27/04/2017 Question Time


David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Oxford. On the panel are Damian Green, Clive Lewis, Jo Swinson, Stephen Gethins and Camilla Cavendish.

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Welcome to Question Time, which tonight comes


from the Debating Chamber of the Oxford Union.


and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green.


Labour's former Shadow Defence Secretary, Clive Lewis.


For the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, who was Business


and Equalities Minister in the coalition.


The SNP's Europe spokesman, Stephen Gethins.


And the journ Camilla alist and former policy


now in the House of Lords as a non-affiliated peer,


As ever, you can join the debate on Facebook,


Twitter or text 83981 and press the red button to see


Our first question to night from Priscilla Fisher, please. Has the


general election been called for the benefit of the Conservative Party


and not the country? Clive Lewis. Yes, quite clearly it has.


APPLAUSE And I am quite pleased to say I


voted against it because I think it's a cynical ploy.


The Prime Minister has gone into this election having said 11 times


before that she would not call an early general election. She has


worked out that her chaotic plan on Brexit and the policies she and her


government have embarked upon since 2010 mean that, also with internal


dissent in her party, she needs to go to the polls now. I think most


people will see it as a cynical, manipulative ploy to maximise on


what she is doing, when what she needs to be doing is bringing the


country together in one of the most chaotic and undermining situations


we have seen in the post-war period. She is not doing that. It is


divisive and quite simply she is out of line.


APPLAUSE So why didn't you get your whole


party to vote against it? I think the decision that my own


party made, to go and vote for this, was wrong. I went through a


different lobby to them. But I understand why, because when Theresa


May and the policies she is putting forward, day in, day out, as many on


this table will know, they are having a devastating impact in our


communities. In Norwich South I see people every week telling me about


the hardship they are in, difficulties in the NHS, the


homelessness people face and the hardship. My party, Jeremy Corbyn


and the Shadow Cabinet felt we had to take Theresa May on if she


offered this opportunity. But it was wrong. I think we should have said,


if you want to be so manipulative we will happily vote for you in a vote


of no confidence in your own government. If you want the election


badly enough, vote against yourself. Jo Swinson. Yes, the election was


called for the benefit of the Conservative Party. Theresa May was


asked, what part of the 20 point lead in the polls made you think


calling an election would be a good thing to do. But this is an election


that can benefit the country. There are millions of people across the


country who woke up on June 24 last year devastated that Britain had


voted to leave the EU, and have looked on in horror as events have


unfolded since. There were also millions of people who voted Leave


but did not vote for Theresa May's hard Brexit, which includes leaving


the single market and wrecking the economy. So there are plenty of


people who look at politics, see it is broken, see a Conservative


government that has gone for the hardest of all Brexits and has got


away with it because frankly the opposition in the Labour Party has


been hopeless. So this is the chance to change the country, to get a much


better deal for the country, and to have an opposition that can actually


hold this hard Brexit government to account.


APPLAUSE Damian Green.


I find it extraordinary to have opposition politicians saying the


Government is terrible but we don't want an election, do not want the


people to decide whether the government is any good. That is


exactly what you said, Clive, you went into an attack and then said, I


did not want an election, which is absurd. Did you not pass a law


saying there would be no election until 2020? She said she had changed


her mind for two reasons. First, because the Brexit process, as Tim


Farron said, he would come up parliament and grind down the


government. There are 100 Lib Dem peers in the House of Lords who


could do that. They would make the Brexit process chaotic. And


secondly,... I love it that nobody can get a word in edge ways when


they get together. This is the coalition of chaos made flesh, these




The point is that there is a window where you can have that now because


the European Union has gone away to think about its negotiating tactics.


We can have an election now, and out of this election, if people vote


Conservative, if we have a Conservative government returned


under Theresa May, we will have a stronger and more stable government


that will get the best deal for Britain in these vital Brexit


negotiations. I cannot overstress the importance. We need a good deal


for Britain, a strong and stable government under Theresa May to get


that deal for Britain. Can I pick up on this? I relish the opportunity to


do my bit to get rid of a Tory government and the damage they have


done, but we had an EU referendum to try and sort out a Tory civil war.


We are now having a general election to try and sort out a Tory civil


war. And all the time we are having more chaos, more uncertainty for


jobs and the economy. What is the Tory civil war at the moment? The


only reason you do not see a Tory civil war going on is because the


Labour one is worse. There is a hard Tory Brexit being driven by the hard


right of the Conservative Party. They have taken us out of the singer


market that will cost jobs, leaving us with uncertainty over research


funding, which is crucial in areas like Oxford and the area I


represent, Saint Andrews, as well. People's jobs rely on this, and you


are using it as a political tool to take advantage of the mess we are


in. Are you saying that Theresa May wants a soft Brexit and by getting a


bigger majority you will get the kind of Brexit that you want?


Because of the irresponsibility of Leave campaigning on a bank piece of


paper, no one has told us what shape leaving the EU will take. We will


debate this in Parliament. Having scrutiny in Parliament is a good


thing. It is the point why we are here, standing again, it is a good


thing and it makes for better government.


APPLAUSE There are a lot of hands up in the


audience. I will come to you in a moment,


Camilla. At the very back first. One of the benefits of this election is


that, as of the 9th of June, we actually stand a fighting chance of


a process of getting an opposition leader who is credible and stands a


chance of winning in 2025. Five years from now, 2022. Because it


certainly will not be happening under Corbyn. So you think the


election's achievement will be that Corbyn will resign. It will be a


disaster in the polls and we might get an effectively do. What makes


you think he will resign? I think it is a foregone conclusion, isn't it?


I don't know, I am asking you. The woman in the back row. Why was the


general election not called before Article 50 was triggered? Camilla


Cavendish. I am going to make myself unpopular and say that I actually


think it is both. Clearly, the election is for the benefit of the


Conservative Party. The little parties are cynical vote winning


machines. She's going to capitalise on the lead. But I have been really


worried that we would put ourselves in a position where the government


of the day was going to be focusing, from 2019 onwards, on winning the


next election, just at the time when they would need to be properly


negotiating with the 27 other countries that we need to do a deal


with, and that she would be under enormous pressure from her right


wing, she has quite a small majority, to do something that I


certainly would not agree with. I think she needs more room to


manoeuvre. I actually think it is a good thing if we can get a longer


period to have this negotiation. That does not mean that I don't


agree with Stephen that we absolutely need parliamentary


scrutiny of the process at the same time. But this is a very dangerous


moment for the country. We have a huge and important negotiation that


I think transcends politics to some extent. We need the best deal. It is


hard that half of it is going to be done behind closed doors. That is


hard to your head round. But I do think a bit more time might give us


a better chance. APPLAUSE


The man in blue. For months, people have complained


about Theresa May not having a mandate for hard Brexit, but now


when she has gone to get a mandate, people like Clive Lewis are still


complaining. When will Theresa May win? At the front. I think Tim


Farron brought up an interesting point at PMQs a couple of days ago,


that the legacy of this parliament will be the absence of an effective


opposition. And I think maybe the Labour Party needs to thank Theresa


May for calling the election. Because if nothing else it will sort


out the mess that is in the Labour Party, because we need the Labour


Party working and functioning as it should be, an effective opposition,


if that is where it is going to be. I do not agree with him, I'm shaking


my head. I thought you were nodding. Take up his point. I respectfully


disagree. I find it interesting that if Theresa May wanted a mandate, the


Conservative Party were busy telling us after the referendum,


interpreting what that result meant, that the British people had spoken.


She had that mandate. When she became Prime Minister, that is when


she should have caught the election. I find it laughable that you would


say you have caught the election because nine Liberal Democrat MPs,


who voted three different ways on Article 50, are going to stop the


Brexit negotiations. It is about the House of Lords, I said that. This is


more about having a 1-party state, that is what you want. Being accused


of having a 1-party state when you have called an election is absurd.


This is a democratic process. Interestingly, I campaigned on the


remain side. Nobody fought harder for Remain. But unlike the


impression I'm getting here, I am a Democrat and I accept the result of


the referendum. What is important is to get on with the best Brexit we


can have a have a prosperous Britain. You have already ruled that


out. You were on the Remain side, you must be looking at what is


happening with dismay. Theresa May is standing there and saying, before


we even talked our European counterparts, we will rule out being


in the sing the market, not even try to see if that is possible. Surely


to have that trade without all of those costs of businesses trying to


export, if you are going to say let's make the best possible Brexit,


try and bring the country together after... I respect the view. We


fought, we lost, we have to respect the view of the people. You are not


doing that because you are already rolling out what would be the best


version of Brexit. Let's respect our audience and hear from them as well.


Briefly, Stephen. The SNP has been described as an effective


opposition. Damien talks about fearing the House of Lords. The


House of Lords is a democratic abomination and will have absolutely


no impact on the House of Lords after this general election. It will


still be there, unelected, and will still have an impact on each of us.


Why not scrap it? I voted for a fully democratically elected House


of Lords when it came up a couple of parliaments ago. It is not for the


government to abolish houses of parliament. It is for Parliament to


do that. What is important is that we have a strong and stable


government to get the deal. We can argue about the type of deal but it


seems unarguable that if you have a strong, elected Prime Minister with


a new elected mandate, Britain's position will be put better in those


vital negotiations. In the middle. If we are going to have an election,


can we at least have a grown-up election? I bet my wife ?10 that


Damian Green would say coalition of chaos and strong and stable


government in his first contribution.


APPLAUSE Would that the Damien Lewis or Clive


Green you were talking about? Has he caught the cliche virus from


his boss? Can we have a more grown-up debate where we use the


language of Shakespeare with a bit more flexibility?


The general public were upset when Theresa May got into power unelected


and now when there is an election, apparently she is being


manipulative. How'd she stand a chance please anyone?


APPLAUSE You, sir.


The chaos we are looking at today, it identifies exactly what we should


not be doing in this election. We do need a unified front, and I believe


Labour has some very good candidates. Clive is in front of us


today and there are others. And it should not be Jeremy Corbyn. I do


not get your point. The Labour leader should not necessarily be


Jeremy Corbyn going forwards. I think at the end of the day, you


are asking people to vote on uncertainties. This whole Brexit


thing, we don't know what we are going into, what we are voting on,


we don't know what agreement we are going to get. We have two years to


negotiate. We do not know if we can negotiate the deal that we want. How


can you ask people to vote on something they do not know,


essentially? You would rather it had waited for three years? Yes, maybe.


I don't know what the alternative is, but I think this is the wrong


time to be calling a general election.


The woman there. I mean, how will the Government's apparent lack of


clarity on the Brexit demands affect how people vote? How do they think


it won't affect how people vote? People who had confidence in the


Tories in the first place, we've had no clarity. You don't know what


you're voting for? Why would a coalition of chaos, so to speak, why


would that not be a better alternative? That's a good point. I


would like to get Simon Fisher's questions question on that. Is


tactical voting undemocratic or the only way to prevent a hard Brexit Is


tactical voting, voting for a party other than your natural allegiance.


Tony Blair was saying it may mean some Labour people voting Tory this


time round. Is that undemocratic or is the way to prevent a hard Brexit.


Jo Swinson? We have the fist past the post voting system which some


people will say can produce results which don't necessarily look like


they are respecting the will of the overall democracy. In the 2015


election half of the people in Scotland voted SNP but 56 of the 59


seats went SNP. Many people in Scotland felt they were not being


properly represented. There will be a lot of tactical voting in Scotland


and south of the border. It's up to individuals to decide how to cast


their vote. For many people, avoiding a hard Brexit is going to


be a top property because they can see the chaos coming down-the-line.


Damian Green talks about the coalition of chaos it's the pursuit


of this hard Brexit creating chaos. The Liberal Democrats are saying


this can be avoided. We have an election. It's an opportunity to


vote for something else. This is the chance to send the message to


Theresa May. Camilla Cavendish? I think tactical voting is perfectly


democratic especially because it's the only way sometimes you can break


out of the tyranny of safe seats. A lot of people feel it it is not


worth voting at all. Where they live it's always been the same way. There


is nothing wrong with tactical voting. I'm sure we have a coalition


of chaos. It's not a coalition at all. None of you entirely agree with


each other, I don't think. To go back to the lady who made the point


about uncertainty. I think what most of us would value as voters is just


much more clarity from each party about exactly what the choices are,


both going into Brexit and coming out of it? There are some things, we


don't know, because it hes a all subject to 27 other countries. I


would really like to see a bit more vision beyond Brexit. What are we


talking about? What are you offering. What do you want this


country to look like? The man up there in the stripped jacket. Yes. I


was wondering about the fact that the stated aim of Mrs May was that


she wanted Parliament to come together, or Westminster to come


together, because the country has come together. The country is


currently very, very divided. We've got to sort that question out. Where


you are saying we have to widen this beyond Brexit, yes, we do, we have


to address all of those issues. We have to start addressing them in the


debate rather than just saying - it's this or that along party lines.


Get our heads together. It's the biggest issue that we've got. Damian


Green it was the Prime Minister who said the country was united and


Parliament wasn't. What is the evidence that the country is united?


The country went to a vote last year and I think the thing - the most


decisive thing we are hearing this evening is the constant repetition


of hard Brexit and those who say - what are you about? What clarity do


you want? Read the Prime Minister's Lancaster House speech in which she


set out, in as much detail as you can before you go into a an


negotiation what she wanted to achieve with Brexit. Which included


a key phrase where she said she wanted a "close and special


partnership with the European Union." The sensible position for


Britain to take Camilla's point - where do we want to be at the end of


this process. We will be outside the European Union. That is what the


British people voted for. We obviously accept that, but obviously


it's still one of our largest trading areas. They are


neighbouring, friendly democracies. We want to have a close partnership


with them from the outside. That doesn't mean being a member of the


single market because that would involve accepting the European Court


of Justice. One of the lessons we all had to take from the referendum


was that that's an unacceptable interference in the democracy of


this country. People wanted more control over immigration to this


country, and people wanted us to have more control over our own


budget. So within those perimeters what we want to do is negotiate a


deal that makes trade flow as freely as possible and that it preserves


our friendship and co-operation on things like security. That seems to


me a very sensible and strong vision of Britain's future. If we can


achieve that, we will have achieved a lot.


APPLAUSE Do you expect though on the tactical


voting that people who voted, who were in the 48% like you, who voted


to remain will abandon the Conservative Party and go for other


parties, the Liberal Democrats or Labour or in Scotland your party?


No. Why the other parties - Why would they vote for you if they are


against it? I was against it. As I say, I accept - the Prime Minister


was against it. We accept - You have seen the polling shows that people


who voted that way don't accept it. They still feel as they did. Most


people haven't changed their mind very much over the year. If


anything, the latest switch was that people have moved from bricks tires


to remainers - 2%. It's a poll Polls are overrated. I'm struck by people


assume... We saw the Trump election, we saw the referendum vote itself.


We have seen polls get things wrong. (Loss of sound) The tactical voting


point is - it's a free country. You can vote tactically. Have in your


mind if your' voting tactically what you might wake up is Jeremy Corbyn


as Prime Minister. That's not credible. Jo mentioned SNP did well


not past elections on the current system. This next Parliament will be


very important in terms of our rights, the environment, what kind


of UK emerges from leaving the European Union. Now, I'm going to


say something. It's that actually it's maybe no bad thing forcing


politicians from different parties to work together. What I noticed


with the Europe portfolio is I've had to and wanted to work with


colleagues in the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green Party on areas


where we agree. Keeping E. Nationals here and maintain research


funding and fight against austerity. When you get one party in control,


like the Tories on just 36% of the vote, you end up in a mess. Not all


of us have all the answers and that's why it's good that you reach


across the political aisle where you possibly can and reach agreement and


Westminster needs to get better at that.


APPLAUSE It's Clive's turn. Are you in favour


of tactical voting? You appear to be voting tactically by not confronting


Caroline Lucas The Green in Brighton? People have always voted


tactically. I think the electorate understand what they want to achieve


under the first-past-the-post system they can vote accordingly. Where the


Green Party, they have stood down in Ealing and they may have stood down


in Brighton. I applaud that. That is a grownup politics where they


understand actually what is at stake here in this general election.


Potentially, one of the most important general elections in the


post-war period. It transcends party politics. They should be applauded


for what they've done personally. As a national party, the Labour Party,


understands in this election it is about Brexit and it underlice


everything. -- underlies everything. It's about the future of the NHS and


education and social care. There are other issues here at stake. I think


people have to vote accordingly and think about that very carefully.


Obviously, Norwich South people will be voting, I think many people will


vote tactically. They understand after me there is a Conservative


candidate who will push through Theresa May's hard Brexit. They will


vote for a Labour MP and try to stop that. You praised the Liberal


Democrats for not standing against the Greens. Would you like to see


Labour not stand against the Greens or the Lib Demcrats in certain


seats? The problem there is that the Labour Party is a national party and


we stand in every seat, we always have. In the future though I think,


I personally also believe in p proportional representation. We have


an immature political system from the 19th Century we need to change


it and give people choice in who their politicians are and it will


make for better politics in this country.


APPLAUSE I agree that you mentioned it's more


than just Brexit. Why is he shying away? If he wanted to have that -


implement it within our country why is he not voting for a general


election straightaway? No, you can do what you like in a moment. There


are a lot of hands up. The woman there in purple. Yes. Thank you. I


just, I suppose, going back to what Damian said, I get frustrated when I


hear politicians or anybody talking about the people. I think testimony


testimonied and the Government are going on this grand quest to give


the people what they asked for. I did vote remain, but I accept that


not everyone did. But actually, in fact, the people who voted Brexit


only make up 30% of the electorate. I think that people forget this and


they are on an arrogant quest trying to impress these people that think


that they, you know, they are trying to impress. 30% if you don't count,


if you include people who didn't vote. If you include people who


didn't vote. That doesn't include children. That doesn't include


babies who will be affected more than people that will slope off this


earth. You know. OK. One more point from you, sir, in front there. I


can't understand Theresa May's position here. She's called a


general election that she clearly doesn't want to participate in


herself. Why do you say that? She is not wanting to do a debate. She's


standing back... APPLAUSE


She's standing back from doing all but minimal TV interviews. The


Tories want to talk about two things, Brexit.


We had a referendum on Brexit last year and the other thing they want


to do is just throw abuse at Jeremy Corbyn. I haven't heard a single...


APPLAUSE I haven't heard a single policy on


healthcare, on education, on welfare, on immigration from the


Conservatives. It's just that they want to focus on Brexit again and


they want to throw mud at Jeremy Corbyn.


APPLAUSE No debates. You will see an awful


lot of Theresa May. She has been campaigning around the country


meeting people in workplaces. (Loss of sound) There will be huge numbers


of TV interviews. Here you are debating, right? There are five


different opinions. If if you and I were talking to each other that is


not a debate. Why won't she do a debate? Can I talk about the


manifesto point. This gentleman said there are no policies. Wait for our


manifesto it's coming out in 10 days' time that will satisfied your


desire for policies for the future. You called the election, sure will


you you should be able to get your policies out before Labour did?


APPLAUSE OK. I want to make a point on this.


I'm really disappointed that she's not agreed to do a TV debate because




... She's making this election partly about strong leadership. She


should get out there and cut through the media. The great thing about a


TV debate you are not being translated all the time by the


newspapers. You can talk to the public and say Watt you think. She


should take on Jeremy Corbyn and she should do that now. Why do you think


she won't? The politicians will know better than me. Politicians are


reluctant to put themselves in that position. Sorry. It's not the same.


TV debates are not perfect, but we've now got used to them. People


expect them. She is putting herself forward as a strong leared. She


should have the courage to come and do it.


I think there is a lack of clarity from Theresa May and I have lost


confidence in the Conservative Party over the last six months. Over the


Brexit negotiations. Calling this general election. I have lost all


confidence in the Conservatives. Let's take one issue that may come


up. Robert Harris, please. Why haven't the main political parties


promised to end the rank betrayal of my generation that is the triple


lock on pensions? APPLAUSE


In other words, you think pensioners are benefiting at your expense?


It makes perfect sense to link pensions to average earnings, to


inflation. It makes no sense to commit to a minimum annual increase


of 2.5% regardless of what is going on in the economy, producing a


constant ratcheting up of costs, at a time when the average pensioner


household is better off than the average working household. It is my


generation that has to foot the bill and has to wait longer and longer to


receive our pensions as the Government tries to keep the cost of


pensions under control. Do you anticipate it may be dropped in the


Tory manifesto? I hope so, we will hear from Damian Green. He is the


boss of this bit. It has no logic, no basis in equity and is a cynical


attempt to attract a certain demographic and needs to be


scrapped. You are just out for the old vote, Damian Green. I think that


is not fair and can I break the rules by being nonpartisan for a bit


rest room at to put into perspective, first of all, young


people will grow old and want a decent pension system one day. This


dichotomy of either you care about the old all the young, that is


wrong. More importantly, the triple lock and the action on pensions


taken over the last 30 years by all parties, not just my party, but when


we were in coalition with the Lib Dems, and before that with other


parties in government, has meant a tremendous reduction in pensioner


poverty in this country. In the 1970s and 1980s, 40% of pensioners


in this country lived in poverty. That was disgraceful. We have got


that figure right down to 14%. Still too high, there is more to do, but


that is a completely unrecorded huge social achievement in this country.


We have done an awful lot in a generation to get rid of pensioner


poverty and we should be proud of that. Let him just answer you.


Robert Harris. That is absolutely true and it is crucially important


to reduce pensioner poverty but the average pensioner household now is


better off than the average working household, so there is a trade-off


between the two. The current system, when you commit, regardless of what


is happening in the economy, has to be unfair. With all the spec, I


think the Waspy women in this country would disagree on that. I am


proud that pensioners are given a decent pension. They have worked


their lives and they deserve to be looked after and I think it is right


and proper that the triple lock is there and Labour have said we will


guarantee that. I think that is the right thing to do. Rather than


playing the older generation against the younger generation, politicians


should be saying, how do we tackle those with vast amounts of wealth.


We are one of the most unequal countries in the Western world. I


know where I would be looking to make sure that pensioners have the


money they need to live decently and that young people have opportunities


and chances in life. That is by tackling those with the most wealth.


There are far too many people with far too much wealth in this country


and a future Labour government would equal that out and make a fairer


society that works for all. APPLAUSE


I have a lot of sympathy with the questioner, but I have a piece of


advice as well, which is that his generation needs to get out and


vote, and they will find that they lot of the benefits.


Accruing to them. That's a very cynical view. You mean that if his


lot voted, he would change his mind. Many of the benefits that accrue to


pensioners are because we almost pensioners get out and vote. Have


you decided whether you will keep the triple lock? Wait for our


manifesto. I asked if you have decided. Everything is under


discussion and I will not discuss the process of the manifesto either.


I would love to do this, but I am afraid we will release our manifesto


when we release our manifesto and you will see it then. It sounds like


Robert will be happy with the Conservative manifesto on this, but


probably less happy with my answer. It was the Lib Dems who brought


forward the triple lock, our policy made it into the coalition agreement


and we delivered, because over a period of many years the state


pension had fallen so far behind what average working households were


taking home. Pensioners will remember the insult under the Labour


government of the 75p per week rise. It was clear that something had to


be done about that. I think making sure there is dignity in retirement


is important. I think there are arguments about what you can do


about very excessive tax relief from high rate tax relief for people


putting into pension pots. But the basic state pension is about dignity


in retirement. So I don't think the Conservatives dithering on this is


actually helpful. But you are right to talk about working age people to,


because this is not just about one end of the age spectrum. What we


have seen under this Government have been frankly cruel cuts in welfare


on people who are struggling to make ends meet, going out and working


hard. These are, frankly, the cuts we spent five years in coalition is


stopping them making. We vetoed the ?12 billion of cuts, the tax credits


and the universal credit. You really should be thinking twice when you


are having to get officials to design an eight page form for


mothers who have experienced sexual assault and are in distress, to


fill-in to affirm that their child is the product of rape, in order to


make sure that they can get enough money to feed their children. When


you are having to design a form like that, you know your policy is wrong.


APPLAUSE The workplace pension scheme was


brought in, ably and idea to help young people build up a pension for


later in life. 7.5 million people are now using it.


It is a great success. On the triple lock pension, this is where I would


respectfully disagree. Those who would be impacted when the Tories go


ahead with their plans to cut that, like so many things, will not be the


richest pensioners, but actually the poorest pensioners, those struggling


to make ends meet. This is where we see disgraceful practices. It is


like the Waspy women, pension inequality, these are women for whom


it makes a big difference. Not being told you're pensioners being cut.


People were planning for their pensions for a long time, and the


Waspy women have a point and that is the sort of area where we should be


pulling together and giving the quality they deserve. You have the


power to do that in Scotland, the government can do that. If you


really cared and did not just want to whinge, you would do something


about it. I keep hearing this from the Tories. It is like the rape


clause that Jo Swinson brought up, it is a disgrace. We keep hearing


that we can sort it out. That affects everybody. The Scottish


Government has put ?300 million into offsetting some of the worst


decisions made by a Tory government, by getting rid of the bedroom tax.


Do it. What was your point? The Scottish Government, which likes to


complain about the fact that the pension age has been equalised,


which is sensible and was actually done as far back as 1995, but you


make a big issue of this. But you know that you have the power in


Scotland, if you say Scottish women of a certain age deserve higher


pensions, you could pay those pensions. You would much prefer to


whinge about it then do something about it. Women were told they would


receive pensions by certain dates, and they did not. It is an absolute


disgrace. And the Scottish Government has been going through


times on the bedroom tax, cleaning up your mess. Do it. Do it! If I am


hearing him right, use -- he says you could do something about


pensions but you choose not to. Well...


APPLAUSE The Scottish Government has had its


budget cut by ?2.9 billion. On the rape clause, do you know what


the Tory answer was, it shouldn't matter, you can just offset that.


Why don't we just vote against the rate clause and get rid of it at


Westminster and it solves the problem for the body in the UK. The


young man who asked the question over here, there is a young man


there. What is your view? I would like to agree with Clive and also Jo


Swinson and Stephen to an extent. Since 2010, the number of people


relying on food banks has gone up from tens of thousands of two


millions. The number of rough sleepers has doubled. Everyone knows


Oxford has a huge homelessness problem, a huge number of people,


the most marginalised in society, and if you talk to them, they


include pensioners, but also young people. The fact is, making it an


intergenerational conflict ignores the point of huge wealth


inequalities in our country and the fact that no one is talking about




Camilla Cavendish. Robert, how old are you? So you


basically have student debt, you are having to pay rent, you will


probably have how many more years before you can get on the housing


ladder? Too many personal questions. I wasn't sure. I think I agree with


you. These are really difficult decisions. The triple lock, at 2.5%,


is unsustainable, given all the other demands on public spending.


And there is a younger generation that are having to bear enormous


burdens of debt and cuts. And I actually think, I know a lot of


pensioners have suffered from low interest rates, people who are


dependent on savings have suffered since the financial crisis. But if


we move to a double lock, which would still index the pension to


wages and prices, we would not get rid of that, it would still be


indexed, giving some guarantee, that would be fairer. I think we have to


move on, because 40 minutes have gone.


We're in Wigan next week, and the week after


A question from Rosanna Mills, please. With tensions rising, should


we be more concerned about Kim Jong Un, or Donald Trump. Who is more


concerning? Can't we be concerned about both of them? One thing that


strikes me, and I heard Boris Johnson raise a good point today,


trying to give the US government carte blanche over how they deal


with Syria. Syria and North Korea are extraordinarily complicated


international situations and I am not sure Boris Johnson is the best


person to be dealing with them as far as I'm concerned, but there you


go. These are horribly, catered situations whereby simply advocating


military action all the time does not work. -- these are horribly


complicated situations. The conflict in Syria has been going on for six


years. That should shame all of us. That is not that far-away. That is


why we have a refugee crisis at the moment, when we have Tories trying


to block people out of the country, because we have a mess in Syria, and


a mess we caused in Libya as well, which is costing lives. This should


be the concern of each and every one of us, but that requires investment,


investment in international development, and I am afraid that is


over decades, in terms of investment, and I don't have a huge


amount of confidence that, as this government is focused solely on


dragging us out of the European Union, it will have the wherewithal


to start tackling these problems sensibly. You are answering a


serious question but a different one from the one that was asked, which


was about North Korea. No reason for you not to talk about Syria. Do you


think from your point of view that we should take part if the Americans


ask us, in bombing Syria? Just because the Americans ask you to


bomb somebody, no, I don't think you should go and bomb them. You have a


situation in Syria which is multipolar, with troops from


different countries on the ground and a competitive situation. A few


years ago we were asked to bomb one side and last year to bomb another


side. Maybe the answer is not bombing people, but bringing people


round a table to talk about it and investing. We have invested in


Bosnia over the past 25 years, and it is only now, after that decades


long commitment to that country, that you are seeing some progress


towards the European Union. Ironically, we are encouraging them


to join the European Union just as we turn our backs on it. Let me drag


us back to North Korea, Clive Lewis. The differences between Donald Trump


and Kim Jong Un are quite a few but as far as I know it, Kim Jong Un is


not waiting with his knife in full to take over the NHS. With his


corporate colleagues in the United States, if we get the hard Brexit


that Damian Green and Theresa May want to see. To draw it back to


foreign policy, on the issue of North Korea, I am unhappy that we


have someone like Donald Trump, a thin individual in the White House,


on a hair trigger issue with North Korea. I think we need a government,


a Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister prepared not just to suck


up to the United States but to stand up to them. If you look at Syria, I


think many people, when they saw what happened in Syria, understood


that something very nasty, very bad happened. I understand people wanted


to do something and I get that because that is what the British


people are like. They embrace justice. But there are two things.


First, there was no evidence. Chilcot taught us important lessons


about evidence. I imagine it was him but I have not seen the evidence.


Second, there is no strategy. You have religious wars across the


Middle East, 15 years of the war on terror that has cost trillions and


hundreds of thousands of lives and nothing has happened so far. In


terms of international law, if you are going to bomb a country, after


the Second World War we said as a nation, we got together and said


having big, unilateral decisions made by big players on the world


stage does not end well. It ended in the Second World War. We want the


rule of law. If you want to look other countries in the eye, you have


to operate within the rule of law. That means what Donald Trump did on


Syria, although we might like it because we think it feels good, it


set a bad precedent. We need to go through international institutions


because that is what the rule of law is about and we have always said we


believe in. How confident are you about Jeremy Corbyn's leadership on


this issue, because you resigned as Shadow Defence Secretary? So now you


are supporting him for this on an issue like this, a serious issue,


Syria, North Korea and what happens there.


Is No I didn't resign. You were kicked out? I was shifted over.


Because you took the wrong line. I knew what the policy was on Trident.


I read the autocue. I was aware of what the policy was. The world needs


more people like Jeremy Corbyn. There is a lot of brinkmanship going


on at the moment. And, quite frankly, when I heard the Defence


Secretary boasting about how he would launch a first-strike, a first


nuclear strike on another country, in a matter of way. What does it


come to in politics when a politician gets to boast about the


fact he is prepared to launch a first-strike on innocent civilians.


One of the most dangerous things about Donald Trump is the fact that


his opinions and his morals are reaching people all over the world


and they're not particularly respectable morals, especially


towards women, for instance. I think it's truly disgusting his comments


towards women and about them, and why aren't our politicians doing


more to stand up against that and say - no, this is wrong. We are


being left to JK Rowling to tweet and call him up on it. Why aren't


the people leading our country standing up against him? Damian


Green? The last time I was on Question Time was just after he made


some of his terrible wrong remarks and I said so at the time. So I'm


more than happy to repeat that. Come on, let's get a sense of perspective


here. It the sounds like, if you listen to the last ten minutes of


discussion, that Donald Trump is worse than Kim Jong-un. He's a


democratically-elected leader of a country where, as he is discovering,


there is the rule of law. There are independent institutions that mean


that any American President has to obey the law. And America is a


friendly democracy and the idea that in anyway you can equate that. Let


us take the question seriously. Who should we distrust more. Kim Jong-un


is a dictator at the head of one of the world's most mad regimes that


has starved many of its own people and is trying hard to develop a


nuclear capacity with which it wants to threaten its neighbours. There is


no equation there. Stephen raises the important point of Syria. Any


British Government would look at individual situations as they


develop. It is perfectly possible, it seems to me, that Assad is evil


enough to use chemical weapons to kill tens of thousands of his own


citizens if he thought they would get away with it. Frankly if British


or western military power was used to save those tens of thousands of


lives I would think that was the morally right thing to do.


APPLAUSE Jo Swinson. Clearly, without doubt,


the North Korean regime is horrific and a, but I think there is a


difference in terms 67 actually how much global power the American


President and Kim Jong-un have got in the world. That is what makes me


so worried about President Donald Trump. We have been used to a


situation where America has helped to keep the world order, has been a


very positive role in world affairs. We now have this very unstable


situation where people can't predict what the President is likely to do.


I think this issue really does boil down to international law because,


actually, the chemical weapon attack in Syria was one that I do think


required a response. I think we have that line in the sand very clearly


drawn since after the First World War that chemical weapon attacks are


absolutely unacceptable. What worried me about it was that it


unilateral action. It wasn't done through the international community.


It wasn't as if the approaches were tried. It was just done unilaterally


by President Trump. That is worrying. When I hear our Foreign


Secretary saying it would be hard to say no, I get Sinn Feiners because I


know what it's been like in the past when we have acted as America's


poodle in terms of military affairs in the world. I marched against the


Iraq war in 2003. We don't want to go back to that situation. There


might be circumstances where such as to prevent chemical weapon attacks


you might be able to have that discussion. It needs to be done


through those proper international channels and to have the Foreign


Secretary, you know, coming out with - looking up his thee saw suss for


medieval insults for the Leader of the Labour Party and blindly saying


it would be hard to say no to President Trump. I find that


absolutely terrifying. Plagues plus One more question in. If you can be


brief on this one that would be a help. It's a great question. Kim and


Trump are unpredictable. There is a horrifying similarity. We are at


this bizarre stage of history, aren't we? Trump is


democratically-elected and leads a country which has long been our ally


and it is still an ally even if it's led by somebody who many of us feel


uncomfortable with. I don't agree that North Korea and Syria is


similarly complex. I'm concerned about the statements about investing


in international development for Syria. Syria is in total crisis.


Tens of thousands 678 people are dying. In 2013 President Obama


backed away from his red line when he thought Assad had used chemical


weapon because the British didn't support action. Obama used that as


an excuse not to confront Assad. I do actually think that the use of


chemical weapons is horrendous and it has to be, I'm afraid, a red


line. North Korea is an abomination. That is the best way to deal with


it. It weighs on the Lib Dem and your watch watch. On Libya we spent


as much bombing it on reconstruction afterwards under your watch. It laid


to a failed state which leads to the problems in the Mediterranean today


exasperating the humanitarian crisis. Simon Warren can we have


your question? Is it right for Theresa May to maintain the foreign


aid budget? We have three minutes left. Is she right to maintain that


when the NHS and other places need additional funding? You go on this.


We have to be quite swift on it. Yes, she is. I think ultimately,


it's like the pensioners against young people. It's not a choice in


playing our party we have a better, fairer world where developing


nations. Many of these countries ares countries where many people in


this audience and at home have come from. Our country has benefitted


very much throughout its history from the developing world and


Empire. What we are doing here is part of that long-term strategy. We


are making sure these countries can come up and join the developed world


and actually stop poverty, top stop those things which can create


terrorism. The 0.7% is right and proper. We can afford both that and


to have a decently funded public services like the NHS. Do you agree


with that, Camilla? APPLAUSE


I started my career as an aid worker. I have a lot of friends


still in aid. I believe aid can do absolutely marvellous things. I also


believe having a fixed budget is a recipe for some misuse of funds


because the agencies know they've got the money and they don't always


spend it wisely. We need to, I'm afraid, we need to get an awful lot


better at spending it. OK. Thank you for being brief. Jo, be brief, too.


We can't go for more than two minutes? We should maintain it. For


?100 this country has in wealth it's spending 70p. We have that


responsibility more broadly as well as within our own country. I'm proud


it was my Liberal Democratic colleague who brought in the Bill to


to force the Government to stick to the 0.7% every year. What do you


think? Charity begins at home. ?12 billion is a lot of money every week


you are hearing about crisis after crisis in the NHS. ?12 billion? We


need more in the NHS. We don't need to export it to other countries. I'm


glad there is so much consensus. The Prime Minister has said we will


stick. Not consensus from him. Around here. I think you are quite


right, charity begins at home. Charity doesn't need to end at home


Wen can afford. We can continue to afford to put the extra money, we


are putting it into the NHS and other public services, only because


we have a strong enough economy to do that. That's one of the key


questions facing this country over the next few weeks is - do we want


to preserve the strong economy that allows us to do these good and


generous things or do you want to put it at risk? This is about the


kind of country we want to be. We have international obligations we


should have. It's a good use of money and a fraction of the amount


of money we are about to spend on weapons of mass destruction. There


is a clear choice there. APPLAUSE


OK. You have ten seconds the man at the


back. You have been trying to get in. Thank you very much. My arm has


been dying all evening. It's well and good to have a foreign aid


budget. You mentioned that we might be a


poodle in the face of America. One way we maintain our stayed status as


a world power is by having an effective nuclear deterrent. I can't


see us remaining a serious world power as long as Jeremy Corbyn is


potentially going to be Prime Minister and get rid of the whole


lot. All right. APPLAUSE


You raised something we didn't get to. We do have to to stop. Our hour


is up. We're in Wigan next week


with, among others, the Shadow Chief Secretary


to the Treasury, Rebecca Long Bailey and the Leader of Plaid Cymru,


Leanne Wood, on our panel. The week after we'll


be in Edinburgh. To come and take part


in our audience in Wigan or Edinburgh go to our website


or call 0330 123 99 88. If you are listening tonight


on Radio 5 Live, the debate goes My thankses to that panel and all of


you who came here to the Union Building in Oxford. Until next


Thursday, from Question Time, good night.


This is all Roz, she's trying to frame me!


This is the final push, we cannot fail.


He sent you, didn't he? Are you expecting someone else?


David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Oxford. On the panel are Conservative work and pensions secretary Damian Green, Labour MP Clive Lewis, Liberal Democrat minister Jo Swinson, the SNP's Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins, and the journalist and member of the House of Lords Camilla Cavendish.

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