David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Norwich, with Priti Patel, Angela Rayner, Vince Cable, Jonathan Bartley and former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore.
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Welcome to Question Time, which tonight comes from Norwich.
And on our panel here tonight, the Conservative cabinet minister
in charge of international development, Priti Patel.
Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner.
The Liberal Democrats' former Business Secretary, Vince Cable.
The joint leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley.
And the journalist and Margaret Thatcher's
authorised biographer, Charles Moore.
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Let's have our first question which comes from Jason Dyer, please.
Thank you, David.
I would like to know, ask the panel, after paying taxes
all your working life, do you think it is fair that
you have to sell your family home to pay for the care?
Is it fair you have to sell your family home to pay for your care
costs in the manifesto today?
Priti Patel, is it fair?
Well, it's not fair, and that's not what we are proposing.
We are very clear in terms of the fact that we need
to take some decisions now, long-term decisions about how
we look to the future and address the ageing population and the needs
of social care.
So what we are saying is that we will put in place now
this ability and the safeguard of ?100,000 so people can
still keep their house, they don't have to sell their house,
but they are protected now in terms of their long-term care costs.
And that applies to people that are having residential care,
so in care homes, as well as those that now have care at home as well.
Whereas previously the focus was only on those that went
into care home settings.
Isn't it what you use to call the death tax,
when Labour suggested something very like it?
I think Labour were proposing something totally different
which was a tax on all assets, property, carte blanche.
We have been clearer about having this ?100,000 level, which,
you know, makes it very clear that people don't have
to sell their homes.
They can stay in their homes and they can keep their properties.
But their children have to sell them.
Well, there is obviously a position afterwards
in terms of whether or not, it's family members, effectively.
OK, Vince Cable.
Well, Priti's completely wrong.
I mean, there is no cap on the amount of money
that you have to pay.
If you contract one of these degenerative diseases, dementia,
or some other complicated matter, that involves very, very large
expenditure on social care, there is no limit
to what you have to pay.
There is a crucial difference between what this Government
is proposing, and what we agreed under the coalition.
We said under the coalition that there should be a cap, ?75,000.
We agreed it was in the legislation and the government have pulled it.
And what happens now, it's a lottery.
If you grow old without ill health problems and then
perhaps die quickly, there aren't big social care bills.
If you are one of those unfortunate people that have these degenerative
conditions over a long period of time, you have massive social
care bills, it's surely fair that society should protect you.
And that's why we talked about having a cap to the amount
of social care pay levels.
Under the Government's proposal, that is withdrawn.
It is a wicked lottery.
And there's a lot of hypocrisy in this because in the last year
or so, the Tories introduced, they cut inheritance tax.
Supposedly to help people pass on property to their children.
But what will now happen is that if you are one of those unfortunate
people who has got unlimited care costs, you will be paying
100% inheritance tax.
All of your family savings will disappear.
It is a lottery, it is grossly unfair and it is a big step
backwards from where we were a few years ago.
Well, I'm not sure if the Government's proposal
is necessarily right but I actually do think that it is not wrong
to have to use your house to help fund your care.
And it is particularly true if you are reasonably well off,
which obviously a large number of, though by no means all,
house owners are.
I don't understand why your house has to be treated
completely separate away from any other possession.
I notice in the Conservative manifesto it says "one purpose
of long-term saving is to cover needs in old age".
That is a fair point.
And we ought to think about that.
And that is an important thing you have to work out.
If you don't follow the rule, then what happens is that the Government
is paying out huge care bills to people who actually have
quite a lot of money, because they have these houses.
Many people nowadays have a house worth ?400,000, that sort of thing.
And if that's totally protected, and the Government has to subsidise
them, then the subsidy, that subsidy is harder to find for
people who actually really need it.
I notice one thing the Tories are trying to do in all of this,
not just about care, they are trying to focus all kinds
of social help on where need is.
They are trying to get rid of this idea that everybody can get it.
This is going to annoy a lot of Tory voters,
because as a matter of fact a lot of Tory voters are quite used
to being quite well off and getting quite a lot of government money
for one thing and another.
And what Mrs May is doing, because she is talking
about the "just about managing" people, she is trying to focus
on them, who were historically considered perhaps more
She is thinking they are actually going to really need care much more
than a lot of the people who get it automatically.
So that's the thinking.
And as a broad point, it's reasonable.
Well, it's clear to me that the Conservatives have replaced
the triple lock with a triple whammy for pensioners,
if I am quite honest.
The winter fuel allowance, the issues around pension cuts,
and now this issue around what we are dubbing
the dementia tax.
And I'm pretty cross about this.
I'm cross about it because what led me into Parliament was being a home
help and looking after people in their own homes.
And they were told, do the right thing all your life, work hard.
They bought their homes in good faith, they saved
in their pensions in good faith, and they are having it
stolen away from them, whether it is women born
in the 1950s, the Waspy women, having their pensions stolen.
Now they are saying they are going to take your assets
as well in your home.
It doesn't have to be like that.
It's a disgrace.
And it's the actual deprived areas, Charles, that are facing
the most significant cuts through council cuts.
In my constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne,
Oldham and Tameside councillors, half of their budget is cut
under the Conservatives, which has affected those very same
people they are saying they are trying to help.
It is vicious, it's nasty and it's not the way to run our services.
We are protecting people's assets.
It is right that people save.
We are a country that saves, and people do
save and accumulate their assets, but we are protecting
You wait until they die and then you're going to snatch it from them.
So what is Labour's solution then?
You are going to snatch it from them.
We are taking a long-term approach to social care provision.
It is not sustainable, Angela, to carry on in the way
in which we are doing so right now.
You are cutting taxes to the rich, you have cut corporation tax to 17%,
you've cut capital gains tax.
And that helps to grow the economy and grow jobs.
No, it doesn't.
Margaret Thatcher's level was at 33%.
We are at 17%.
We can pay for our older relatives.
We don't need to be this way.
Angela, you listed among other things the winter fuel payment
being abolished but that was in your manifesto in 2015 for
the better off, wasn't it?
Well, if you look at our manifesto that we've put forward...
No, in 2015 when you were elected, it said you would stop paying winter
fuel payments to the richest.
But I'm talking about our manifesto that we are standing on today.
So you've given that up then.
Well, we are looking at our manifesto now.
If you look at the Conservatives' manifesto, they are cutting
all of their promises to older people of this country.
Whereas our manifesto says we will look after everybody.
It's about a choice.
How are you going to pay for that?
What sort of society do you want to live in?
One where they attack the poor, the disabled, the pensioners?
Or do you want one where they cut corporation tax to the richest?
It is ensuring that valuable public money goes to people
that actually need this, and that is the purpose of why
we are making the changes to winter fuel payments,
so it goes to those that need the help.
There's no real point in a system, Angela,
in which David Dimbleby and Vince Cable, to mention
two people who are slightly getting on in years,
could get the winter fuel allowance.
Why should they?
It's just ridiculous waste of public money.
Angela, I'm going to stop you because you've said quite a lot.
Well, they are asking me.
I'm saying that when you are means testing, you are not
making any savings.
I will come back to you.
I want to answer your question, Jason.
Let's back up a little bit.
When the NHS was set up, and the NHS is very close to social care,
they have knock-on effects to one another, it was set up
with the principle that we don't know what the future
is going to hold.
And therefore, as a society, collectively, we will make
the provision that if someone does need ten years social care,
if they do need a major operation, or if they are healthy and lucky
enough to have a very long life of health,
they should all have the security.
And that should be funded by all of us, not singling out
individuals and breaking that social contract between us.
Now the Conservatives are breaking that social contract.
They are piling pressure on the individual.
We are not doing that.
We should also be clear about what the context is.
This is not coming about because we suddenly have an ageing population.
This social care crisis is because we've had chronic
cuts and underfunding at the local authority level.
37% cuts to local authority, a ?4.6 billion deficit in social care.
And that is why we are now getting that move.
Where would you get the money from?
Everybody agrees there have been cutbacks.
We could just go back to reverse what the Conservatives
have done since 2010.
We have ?122 billion not going into the public purse
because of cuts to corporation tax, because of giving tax
breaks to the richest 50%.
Let me hear from some of the audience.
The man in the pink shirt.
I think people may be inclined to agree and accept the rise
to ?100,000 if the social care was adequate, and it isn't.
My father's been ill for 11 years, bedridden for four.
The social care gets carers coming in.
He's had to change them seven times in the last two years
because the standards are very low, the staff have turnover,
they are unprofessional, he is left in squalor and they can't
save and maintain their own house because they're spending
all the bills on the care.
And he's worked all his life.
He's paying for the care but you don't think
the care is good enough.
Because he has a Parkinson type syndrome, he's not entitled
to have the care paid.
If he had cancer, he would be fully entitled to have his care paid for.
Are you saying the actual quality of care he gets is not adequate?
It's not up to standard.
I'm a nurse myself, and that is how I judge.
The woman there.
I work in the Millennium Library here in Norwich,
which is the busiest, a very good library, in Britain.
And we see what the cuts have done every day to the people that
are coming into the library, and I feel very strongly.
I think Angela is absolutely right.
The cuts, we've absolutely been cut to the bone.
And now Theresa May is attacking the pensions.
The pensions actually started out, what was it, 1909,
the first pension, seven and six.
People talk about Corbyn's Britain going back to the 1970s.
What about the Tories going back to, like, the 1870s?
It's becoming Victorian, what's happening in this country.
The man in the blue shirt.
What I struggle with at the moment is there seems to be an easy win.
We all recognise that the NHS, police and everybody
need more money.
Why hasn't any of the political parties committed to reducing
the overseas aid budget, which is about 12 billion a year,
even if it is just for a short time?
Let's cut that back and let's reinstate it when we've
balanced the budget.
We may come to that question in a moment.
The woman here on the right.
To expand on that point, too autocratically give 0.7%
of our GDP, and it's a target, there is no focus on
where it's being spent.
I'll come to that right now.
Just hold it for a moment and stick on the point we were on before.
You, in the third row.
I want to ask Angela.
You talk about how people are encouraged to work hard
and save all their lives, yet there seems to be hypocrisy
amongst the Labour Party.
A bit like how you're against grammar schools and yet most
of the Shadow Cabinet sends their children
to selective or private schools.
You just, whilst you may say, oh, you're going to take
away everyone's savings, you instead would take it
away in inheritance tax.
Surely this is complete hypocrisy, you just want to soak the rich.
Well, no, it's not hypocrisy.
It's about choices, and we are saying this Government
have made choices where they have slashed corporation tax, slashed
the tax for those that are rich, and they are making pensioners
pay for it.
I went to a state school, and all my children
go to a state school.
I want the best for every single child, and that's why I don't
believe that grammars are the right thing to do.
I am basing it on the evidence rather than hypocrisy.
There are fundamental points here.
We'll come to you.
There is a fundamental point here and it isn't
just about education.
It's actually about Labour and the fact that they think
they can literally spend their way when it comes to any big challenge
or any big problem that society faces by taxing people.
So you know if you own it they tax it, if you consume it they tax it,
if it walks there's no doubt about it they tax it.
It's not true.
It is true.
Are you ruling out national insurance contribution rises
for Britain, are you going to rule that out in your manifesto?
Your party has no credibility.
You don't answer the questions.
There's nothing in the manifesto that says you will not increase
national insurance contributions.
That's what you wanted in the last Parliament.
Are you going to do that?
On June 8th it's about economic credibility and leadership.
You won't answer the question.
Seven years ago...
Wait a moment.
We can answer that one.
There is a commitment...
ALL SPEAK AT ONCE.
Hang on a second.
Hang on a second.
You promised that you would get rid of the deficit.
I'm sorry, there are five people on the panel,
this is getting ridiculous, you cannot just shout
at each other across me and leave out everybody else.
Can I just say in this conversation, you are both talking about taxation
but in a different way.
You're talking about taxing people with dementia.
No, I'm not.
You, Sir in the centre.
We know where the money is, we've got to go and get it.
It's about where it's going to fall.
Every time there's a cut mentioned or a saving needs to be made,
Labour seem to be against it.
Can Labour please tell us how we reduce ?1.7 trillion of debt?
Yep, well we...
Well, to be honest, that's a really fair point because under
the Conservatives that's doubled.
And they promised...
And this is why I get really passionate about it
because they promised that they would make sure
the deficit was already gone by now, it's not true.
What is your answer to him?
My answer to you is that where we said we'd borrow
is about capital investment, it's about borrowing
and investing in our young people and our British lives.
So instead of getting people off the peg from abroad to do
the skills in our country, it's about making sure our young
people have a national education service so they're invested
in without the debt.
That's what it's about.
All right, don't overdo it.
Vince Cable, how would you answer his point?
How is the debt going to be paid off which has increased
under the Conservatives?
If we are going to have improved services while dealing with sensible
public finance and public debt, as you rightly say, we've got
to have an honest way of funding these things.
That's why we've addressed the issue about the lack of funding for social
care and health by saying, you know, we've all earned,
we have got to pay a penny more in income tax.
That doesn't solve the problem but it will substantially alleviate it.
But saying that you can never cut anything and you have to have
tax cuts the whole time is fundamentally dishonest.
If we have good Public Services, we've got to pay for them.
Not just a handful of billionaires, but we've all got to
make a contribution.
There was nothing in the Conservative manifesto today
to explain how public finance is going to be raised.
Where would you suggest we make our cuts?
We have to make cuts somewhere, you would agree, where?
Where should we cut?
I was in the coalition for five years, I had
to cut my department spending by 25%.
Did you do that?
I did it because we had to get the budget in order.
So you would agree we have to cut services somewhere?
We have to manage the public finances properly of course.
But what is missing from this national debate at the moment,
particularly from the Tory manifesto, is where are
they going to raise taxes?
We know that after the election when Theresa May gets
in with a big majority, taxes are going to go up,
probably in income tax, probably national insurance,
white van man is going to have to pay more.
There isn't a word about it in their manifesto.
Can I just do it this way round, would you like to state
that there will be no increases in tax and no increases
in national insurance?
Are those words Mrs May would not allow you to speak?
All decisions on tax and spend are set out, and rightly so,
Vince will know this and other panelists will know this,
in the rightful way which is through budgets
and fiscal events.
It's not for me as a panelist to talk about it.
Maybe in your manifesto Angela where it's all about corporation tax
solving the problems but this is about being credible
on the economy.
You are not credible.
I think you will find we are, when it comes to financial
stability, Labour have a ?58 billion black hole in their own
from their manifesto.
You, Sir over there?
that we have been taking.
I haven't had a chance to read the Tory manifesto because it
only came out today,
but the winter fuel allowance, how exactly are you going to implement
who has it and who doesn't because other Governments have
resived doing it because they said it was too complex?
It's means tested.
Currently there are 12.2 million who have the winter fuel allowance,
the actual payment itself, at great cost, so it
will be means tested.
Just before we move away to another question, Charles Moore,
you introduced yourself as Mrs Thatcher's biographer
and I note that the Spectator magazine you write for today says
that this is the most left-wing leader of the Tory
party in 40 years.
Are there things in this Tory manifesto and Theresa May's
approach to politics which, in your mind, are completely
different, a new direction for the Conservative Party?
Or is that just...
In one way not because I think Mrs May's very much expressing
the idea of the nation's identity asserting itself in
the way Mrs Thatcher was.
That's what Brexit was all about.
That's very much a Thatcher thing.
And she's going for the lore middle class, what she calls
And she's going for the lower middle class, what she calls
the just about managing, rather than natural
permanent Tory voters.
That's very similar.
There is a big difference and that's Mrs Thatcher was much more
a preacher of liberty than Mrs May and she much more talked
about opportunity and she much more said, trust the people to create
wealth and the thing that worries me about the Tory manifesto is I think
it doesn't look at the gifts of the people about how they can do
things, about how a person can start up a business and how to create
better opportunities so that they can, trusting
the people to create the prosperity.
There is an element of I think too much control in all of this.
It does worry me.
Particularly if we are Brexiting, we are left to our own devices.
We have got to sort it out.
And for that, we have got to have a lot of economic freedom.
Last point from you, Sir, then another question.
A question for Priti.
If your economics are stable, why is it that you won't volunteer
your manifesto to be judged against Labours,
as has been requested?
I don't think Labour's has been judged at all,
other than to say there is a ?58 billion black hole...
They've asked for it to be assessed against yours.
All based on greater tax levels basically and more
debt and more borrowing, but I think, you know,
as I've said, the reality is, is that when it comes to spending
decisions, they'll be forthcoming through the fiscal
processes that are in place.
I should also make the point in the manifesto, there
are commitments that we have made on education for example,
on housing, you know, finance is money that has been
announced during the budget as well.
Government's already factored in the spending that
will go into those areas.
Coming back to the point of social care as well,
we have put in an additional ?2 billion into social care.
Of course, on the point about the Winter Fuel Payments too,
that is about making sure A it's means tested but so that the rest
of that money goes into improving the quality of care such
as what the gentleman mentioned.
I come back to the point as well, why they don't want their manifesto
costed is because there are huge subsidies that could be cut.
Money is given to buy-to-let landlords overheating
our housing market.
There's going to be ?110 billion going into Trident nuclear weapons
which we don't need to spend.
There is another ?40 billion going into subsidising the private
pension industry which goes into lining the pockets
of those in the City.
We can make cuts and you don't want your numbers scrutinised
because you are subsidising the wrong people
in the wrong places.
We'll go on to another question.
Just before we do, we are going to be in Belfast next week
and we are in Barnet the week after that.
I say that so if you want to come, the address is on the screen
there and you can.
I should also mention the two leaders specials,
well four leaders in fact but two leaders in pairs.
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are going to be in York
on Friday 2nd June.
They're not appearing together, they're appearing
one after the other.
And then Nicola Sturgeon and Tim Farron on the 4th June
in Edinburgh on a Sunday.
So if you want to come, that's Belfast, Barnet, York, Edinburgh.
You can apply, I'll give the details again at the end.
I think we'll go on to another question.
I will come back to the issue, if I have time, about foreign aid,
but let's take this question from Emily Petch, please?
Is Jeremy Corbyn credible enough to lead Brexit negotiations?
I won't take a show of hands, but we'll hear from our panel first.
Well, I think the simple answer is no.
I'm not wanting to get into a sort of general view
of Jeremy Corbyn's political history, but the simple truth
of the matter is that on the particular issue of Brexit,
he and Theresa May are in the same place, I mean they've both voted
for what we call a hard Brexit or an extreme Brexit
or a Ukip-type Brexit which isn't just leaving the European Union
which the public had voted for, but also involved taking it out
of the single market, involves taking it out
of the customs union, which is fundamental
to our manufacturing industries which will sever a lot of the very
close scientific relationships we have, our university in Norwich
here is a typical example of an institution that will be
very badly damaged.
So that his responsibility is just as much as the Prime Minister
in taking the country in a very damaging and dangerous direction.
I accept, and my party accepts, that the public have voted
and the process is being started.
But there is a fundamental question now about which type of Brexit
we pursue and I'm afraid that Jeremy Corbyn has lost the plot
here and lost the loyalty of a lot of his own people because he's
taking us down the same direction as the Ukip-inspired
The difference between him and Theresa May's negotiating
position if either was in charge?
Well, it's not clear what Jeremy Corbyn's
negotiating position is, I mean beyond the same
as the Government.
The problem is we now have as a country is what happens next
isn't really in our hands.
The British Government's made its pitch, we are pursuing this
hard extreme Brexit option, we've now got to wait
for what the European Union countries offer us.
They're going to struggle obviously to have a common position.
There are 27 Governments and the European Parliament and it
will probably come in the form of a take it or leave it offer.
If the offer is a bad one, the question then will be,
what do we do as a country.
What my party is saying, quite distinctly from Labour
or the Conservatives, is that the public have got to be
given the choice of deciding whether we take what is on offer
and that's the context of having another referendum and I don't think
the Labour Party are in that space.
Just while you're on that point, two things, do you accept now that
a majority of people, even if they voted, even if those
included voted Remain and now want Brexit and want the Government
to get on with it.
Secondly, it was you of course who said that a second vote would be
Yes, and I...
Now you've changed your tune.
I said that and I meant it at the time of the referendum.
We had the referendum.
To disrespect the majority would have been completely wrong.
We now have a different question to answer which is,
what happens at the destination?
We voted to leave.
Sorry, what were you saying would be counterproductive,
the immediate oh dear, we didn't like that let's have
another one next year?
There was a lot of suspicion quite rightly that in European countries
they had referendums, they lost and the government
ran them again.
And you thought that might happen?
It could have happened.
That Cameron would stay there and say let's do it again?
If it happened it would have been wrong and that's
what I was criticising.
But we are now dealing with a fundamentally different
question which is what happens when we get to the end
of the process.
In our view, the Government, backed in this case
by Jeremy Corbyn, are leading us into a very deep swamp.
OK, it's where we are going.
We've got to have some line of retreat if this goes badly wrong.
Well, I think Jeremy Corbyn's been really clear and the Labour Party
position is clear, that we respect the votes of the referendum.
Actually, first first principle is to put British jobs
Actually, our first principle is to put British jobs
and our economy first, whereas Theresa May's dog whistling
the Ukip votes and saying we'll put immigration first,
yet she's failed to meet her targets time and time again on immigration.
Actually, we want a Brexit deal that will ensure that all parts of the UK
can prosper and do well.
Our manifesto sets out how we were going to grow Britain
and ensure that our children have the skills for the future
and not saddled with lots of debt and that we build more social
housing and an NHS and a social care system that will give people
dignity and respect.
The Conservatives are not offering that.
I read pages 28 and 29 of this under immigration for Labour,
there is no mention of cutting immigration at all?
We say that freedom of movement would end, and actually
what we believe is by making sure that employers can't
undercut wages in the UK, which the Conservatives have allowed
to happen for over seven years in power, we believe that actually
some of the practices that people are afraid of around
immigration will end, because we will make sure that
British skilled workers can get those jobs.
We don't have those skills at the moment.
They've cut bursaries for our NHS nurses.
Do you want, as a policy, to see fewer immigrants
coming to the UK or not?
We want to see a UK economy that puts our jobs and our workers first.
That's what we've said.
Immigration, and we've made no bones about that,
immigration has been positive for the UK.
But in some areas, like in my constituency
they feel they've been disproportionately affected
by immigration, because they've seen the housing pressures,
they've seen public services being cut, and they've seen
the undercutting of wages.
And the Conservatives have allowed that to happen.
They've broken their promises, and they're going to wreck our
economy by dog whistling Ukip on this particular issue.
Well, the question was about leadership and whether or not
Jeremy Corbyn is credible as a leader to go in and get
the best deal for Britain when it comes to our Brexit
discussions and negotiations.
I think the obvious answer is no.
Can any of us seriously picture and see Jeremy Corbyn sitting down
with presidents and prime ministers and chancellors across
Europe to get a deal?
And the reason why the answer is no is because we are going to face
a challenging time over the next five years, and there's only one
leader, Theresa May, as Prime Minister, who's been able
to recognise that and face up to the fact that...
Where's the 350 million?
Hang on a second.
We need to get the best deal for our country
in those negotiations, which means that we need a strong
leader, someone that's going to stand up for Britain,
someone who will stand up for our national interests
and someone will get a good deal for our country, and
that is Theresa May.
And just another point.
On the point about immigration as well, let's be clear about why
we have had so many issues over the years on immigration.
Because it was a Labour Party in government that allowed a policy
of uncontrolled immigration, and our objective, throughout Brexit
negotiation, will be to take back control of our immigration,
to control our immigration policy...
Well, we're going to do this by leaving the European Union.
Theresa May was the Home Secretary for seven years, and she's
failed every single target she's set.
Presumably, Angela, you approve of her failure.
Because you don't want to control immigration.
I believe that setting targets is the wrong way to go
about immigration in this country.
Immigrants come to this country and they work.
They work and they prop up our National Health Service.
You're saying the targets are irrelevant anyway.
The target is not the issue.
The issue is about people feeling like they've been left behind,
that their kids are not getting a future, because they're
going overseas to get the skilled workers instead
of giving our children those chances.
Let's hear from some members of our audience.
You, sir, over there.
To answer the question, is Jeremy Corbyn fit to lead
the Brexit negotiations, I think if the Government truly
wants to unite the country and represent the views of everyone,
then surely more than one political party leader should
be at the negotiation.
You can't just have a Conservative-led negotiation.
You're going to have more than half the country disagreeing with it.
You need to have representation from every party to truly
get a unified Britain.
And the woman in orange.
The panel seems to be very concerned with immigration,
and everyone's opinion on it.
This county would collapse without, not necessarily skilled workers,
but workers of all sorts that come in from the East European bloc.
The man behind you.
Can we not forget that Jeremy Corbyn won two leadership elections?
Theresa May won by default.
So Jeremy Corbyn is in a more stronger, more stable
position than Theresa May.
Theresa May won by default, so why should she be in charge
of our country negotiating Brexit?
She's got an election coming up.
Presumably we will be able to judge her standing
in the country by that.
In the foreword to the manifestos, the leaders both write something.
And in the first paragraph, Theresa May says,
"Brexit will define us".
And Jeremy Corbyn, his first paragraph says, "A big part
"of being the leader of a political party is that you meet people
"across the country and hear a wide range of views and ideas
"about the future".
Now, it seems to me that one of those sentences is focusing
on what it is to be a leader, and the other is not.
And I'm afraid it is very clear.
I actually covered the 1983 election and I went
round with Margaret Thatcher and with Michael Foot,
the then Labour leader, and I saw how they behaved.
And Mr Foot was a dear, kindly man, and I think that's
true of Jeremy Corbyn.
But it was absolutely blatantly obvious that he couldn't run
the country, completely and utterly so.
And it was blatantly obvious that whether you liked
Mrs Thatcher or not, she could.
And the voters could completely see that.
The question put the point there about Jeremy Corbyn being elected.
There is such a fantastic difference between being chosen by your party
and being chosen by the country.
And Michael Foot went to enormous rallies where
he was cheered to the echo.
I remember in Plymouth thousands of people cheering and yelling,
and he made a brilliant speech.
Makes no difference.
What they have to persuade is the people who are not persuaded.
And Mr Corbyn is an absolute classic preacher to the converted.
He can't reach out beyond that, and he won't.
And he'll lose.
To come back to the question again, Emily,
this is what the general election is about, in part, at least.
It is about who has the mandate to go forwards and take
forward these negotiations.
With regard to your specific question about Jeremy Corbyn,
I admire him in many ways.
I think he's putting forward a bold manifesto,
but on his judgment on Article 50, it was not good.
If you cast your mind back to 24 hours, 48 hours
after the referendum, he urged Article 50 to be
That was an error of judgment.
He has given the Conservatives a blank cheque.
Not just a blank cheque.
He has driven them to the bank and got them to cash it in,
over the Brexit negotiations.
But what's the alternative?
Theresa May, who's made mistake after mistake after mistake already
in the Brexit process.
Over Gibraltar, over rattling the sabres around intelligence
when she wrote the letter invoking Article 50.
She's had to be dragged kicking and screaming,
after people told her they wanted to take back control
to the referendum, just to let Parliament have a say in it,
and eventually conceded a vote in Parliament at the end.
But this is a Prime Minister who says one thing and does another.
And that's becoming abundantly clear.
We saw it at the general election.
No, there was going to be no general election.
A few days later, a general election is called.
She swears that she is going to stand up for the marginalised
and then freezes welfare benefits.
She condemns the evils of child trafficking...
Where's she going to go wrong in negotiating Brexit?
I think it's already clear that she's made an error of judgment.
I think she isn't keeping our options open.
I agree with Vince on this about a ratification referendum.
If she's conceded the principle that Parliament should
have a vote on the final terms, then why not trust the British
people to have that say as well?
Emily, what's your view about Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit?
I think that Corbyn is an incredibly passionate leader.
You know what you're going to get with Corbyn, whereas May,
there's always a bit of ambiguity, I guess.
I think personally, I'll be voting for Corbyn
because I know what he stands for.
He's passionate about his beliefs.
I feel like, as a student, he cares more about kind
of the marginalised in this country.
So when you say, is he credible enough, your answer would be yes?
So it was a kind of rhetorical question.
I just wanted to know what everybody else thought.
Lets go on to another...
I said we would come back to the issue that was
raised a moment ago.
The question from Gordon Jones.
I think we can take that.
Just take the key issue, Gordon, can you?
Thank you, David.
The thing what gets me about the Conservative Party
at the moment, they carried on from Cameron's 0.7% of GDP.
You're talking about foreign aid.
Yes, sorry, foreign aid.
What was your actual question, why are they still doing that?
Why are they still carrying on?
When you've got a shortage of policemen, firemen,
care workers, everybody else.
Everybody suffers, while we keep giving this large amount.
And we've given this large amount away for silly things.
We even give Saint Helena Island 285 million to build an airport
which no airlines can take off from.
Yes, I basically agree with what was just said.
First of all, I think it is very wrong to commit automatically
a percentage of the country's money.
You shouldn't have a law.
All spending should vary depending on need.
You shouldn't have a law that says it's got to be X percent.
Secondly, it is true, and it's partly because they say
it's got to be that much, that they don't how to spend it.
So it's all there and they don't know how to spend it.
Thirdly, they are actually not allowed to spend it on things that
are of benefit to Britain.
It's actually against the rules.
And so it is wasted.
One of the key things about running a country is priorities.
I've often seen British aid workers in foreign places.
Many of them are excellent people, government people, I mean.
But the way the system works, I've seen it in Afghanistan,
particularly when it's a dangerous situation, is that all the money
they hand over from British taxpayers goes to the government.
And in these bad places, it's squandered by the government.
The people whose fingers are nearest to the money, keep it.
That's how it works in those places.
And when we actually have priorities, I can't understand why
the government is stuck on this one.
It's the same with...
They go on about energy prices, quite rightly, they are too high.
But we have these unbelievably high renewable demands,
which is the reason energy prices are so high, because we spend more
than 7 billion out of the levy making people pay that
for alleged climate change.
Alleged climate change?
Alleged climate change!
You're a climate change sceptic, or an outright denier?
I'm a sceptic.
A sceptic, OK.
And what evidence is it that you don't believe?
I'm very happy to have the climate change debate, but shall I...
Finish your point, and then I'll bring Jonathan in.
If you're trying to help the people who are just about managing,
which I very much support Mrs May in doing, really work that out,
really think about that.
And if that's so, you would not be putting up energy bills
with renewable levies, and you would not be spending
all this money on foreign aid.
Another subsidy we could cut is the ?30 billion Hinckley subsidy,
which is ridiculous.
Are you in favour of 13 billion foreign aid?
I am absolutely in favour of 13 billion foreign aid,
and we would put it up, unequivocally, and proud of it.
I am proud of it, and we would put it up to 1% of GDP.
And let me tell you, I'm ashamed of our country,
when we spend 40% of our gross domestic product and public
expenditure on ourselves, the fifth biggest economy
in the world, and we can just about scrape together 0.7% of GDP
on the entire rest of the world.
When there is a famine in East Africa with 22 million
people facing starvation, and we can't muster up...
Where's the pride in our country, where's the passion?
We should be leading the world in doing the right thing.
I'm ashamed that we are even having this conversation.
You can shout about it if you know where the money's doing good.
They give a health ministry in Kenya 106 million to provide
for the next eight years.
Gordon, I'm absolutely on the same page with you on that.
I believe we must know where the money is going.
We need accountability and there must be transparency,
but that is not an excuse for cutting the aid budget.
Let me come back to the panel.
There are two honest and credible ways of dealing with the aid issue.
One is to have the target and meet it.
And I have to say, I have many disagreements with David Cameron,
but he deserves a lot of credit for having done this.
He got a lot of flak from his own people and from the right-wing
press but he stuck at it and he deserves credit.
It seems that the other honest way of dealing with it is the way that
you and several other people of the audience have
said quite outright, we don't want foreign aid,
we want to spend it here.
I don't agree with that but at least it's honest.
But what appears in the Conservative manifesto today is something
that is grossly dishonest.
What they are saying is, let's keep the aid target but fiddle
it and redefine it so that it isn't really aid at all.
And that, I'm afraid, is going to bring the whole thing
into gross disrepute.
What do you mean by that?
Well, they want to change the definition of aid so that it
doesn't actually aid the developing countries in a way that
everybody recognises, but is hiding other forms
of British public spending.
And that is not reputable.
That is not a sensible way of doing it.
If we have an aid programme and we are committed to it,
we should deliver it.
If we want out of it, we should do what other people
are saying and cut it.
But trying to hide stuff is not...
We are not trying to hide stuff, Vince.
Why are you trying to redefine it?
You wanted to abolish the Department, didn't you?
We are proud, as a Government, of our 0.7% commitment and it helps
us stand tall in the world.
We are the fifth largest economy in the world and I think actually
when we look at the good that we do, through international development,
no-one can doubt we are saving lives and changing lives
in unprecedented ways.
I've had the privilege of going to some of the most
harrowing places in the world.
Jonathan mentioned the East Africaen famine, I've been to Sudan
and Somalia where people are dying, so ?20 of UK aid would provide
food, water and shelter for a family for over a month.
That helps us stand tall in the world and we should all be
proud of that in terms of how we're spending money.
But, there is more that we can do in terms of the how
we spend that money, where it goes and following
the money to ensure that it goes to the world's poorest to get
the development outcomes that we need to see.
We have seen plenty of cases over the years of aid that's not gone
to the right causes, the right people or even driven
outcomes and developmental outcomes or alleviated poverty.
That is my job, through not just our manifesto but through the nine
months I've spent in DFID so far in tracking down, following
the money and ensuring we spend that money so it's in our national
interest, whether it's on diseases or famine to keep us safe here.
Just in the manifesto, we do say we'd work with like-minded
countries where we can reform the OECD, the rules,
for this very purpose, because we can't spend money,
for example, on getting military support in to deliver aid
in humanitarian situations.
I've seen those situations, I've seen aid workers or know of aid
workers who've been killed delivering food relief in some very,
very unstable parts of the world.
We believe we can change that situation by yes,
spending more with the MoD to get equipment in, but also
to get life-saving aid in as well into some very,
very difficult parts of the world.
I think actually Britain post-Brexit, this helps us to not
only stand tall in the world...
You've said that.
But to give us influence in the world as well.
Gordon complains about the shortage of nurses and doctors
and the rest of it.
You are spending ?13 billion or so, a bit more on foreign aid,
the pledges is to increase the NHS by ?8 billion over
the next Parliament, yes?
That is about ?30 million a week.
You told us there would be ?350 million a week?
Well, you have to...
No, I think...
You've only managed to get...
I mean you've only managed to gets ?30 million,
so does that raise a questionabout whether foreign aid is justified?
I've already made the case...
What happened to your promise that we get ?350 million?
We've got to leave the European Union first
of all to take back control of that money.
You have seen in the manifesto what we'll do with that
money today as well.
We'll put that into a fund where that money will go back
to the UK and so that we can spend that money in the UK
in a way in which, you know, not only secures jobs in this
country but leads to greater investment.
So will the NHS still get the ?350 million a week that
you stood in front of brandishing...
We have committed to ?8 billion on torch of...
I know you have, but where's the ?350?
On top of the ?11 billion that's gone into mental health as well.
In terms of funding to the NHS we are absolutely committed not just
to securing funding but investing in the future as well.
So we have to forget 350 story.
You are plugging the holes of the money you have siphoned out
of our Public Services at best.
But, to be fair, I will agree with Priti on the issue around
the 0.7%, she's absolutely right and she's changed her tune
because she did want to get rid of her department,
as David did say.
Gordon has a point about where we spend that money.
What Priti was saying earlier, for example we are spending aid
to Yemen, yet we are selling arms to Saudi Arabia who're causing
the crisis in Yemen, so we need to look at that.
I'll take a point from you in the third row?
Quickly if you would?
The panelists say it's about investing in the future,
why then Angela would you put VAT on private school fees
which would deny people like me the education that my family has
worked hard to put me through and overburdened the state sector?
That is not investing in the future, that is just soaking the rich
and denying hard working people what their families
want to give them.
OK, we'll go to that question.
Joanne Reid, let's have it?
Should tuition fees be free for all students?
Should tuition fees be free for all students
which is Labour policy.
Yes, I think they should be.
Because students pay a massive debt towards it
by working in our industry, working in our industries
once they are skilled and being our doctors,
scientists of the future, and our young people are leaving
education with ?44,000 of debt.
We'll invest in them.
What was your point?
But if young people are the future of Britain post-Brexit,
your VAT would force people out of private schools, the state
schools can't cope with it and it would actually also deny
the brightest and the best the bursaries...
It would deny the brightest and the best because there'll be
less money going in, they couldn't get the education
they deserve and it would make the education
in the state sector worse.
Can I just say that I don't think it will.
I think the bursary, the VAT levy on schools
is about schools paying the right amount of VAT which they currently
don't have to pay.
It's a state subsidy to private schools.
When you've got choices to make, I believe that putting
that money into the 95%, rather than the 5%
is the right option.
Well, I think the perennial question here is, you know,
with Labour again, how they're going to pay for this,
because the reality is, when it comes to tuition fees,
making it free for everyone, it is simply not sustainable,
it's not financially credible at all.
Actually, you would be supporting children from pretty well off
backgrounds to go to university and what we are seeing right now
through the tuition fees policy is actually it's giving the support
to many of those that could not get access to university education,
those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those are the ones we should be
targeting and supporting to get into university.
But that number's gone down.
The woman in blue on the gangway?
I went to university and I ended up with over ?30,000 worth of debt
and I'm not in a job which I graduated for or worked hard
towards because a lot of jobs when you leave universities
being entry levels, you don't get paid anything or just
get your travel costs.
So I've ended up in a job that I didn't work hard towards and I've
been there for six years because I can't find anything that
I've graduated and worked towards.
Vince Cable, of course, the Liberal Democrats famously
didn't want tuition fees and then We didn't.
Do you approve of Labour's plan to abolish them again
or are they now inevitable?
In an idealised fantasy world where money grew on trees,
it should of course be free.
All three political parties, including mine, have made complete
fools of themselves in the past by promising what they
When the Labour Government came in, they promised never to introduce
tuition fees and did and promised not to increase them and did
because they were being sensible and realistic and Gordon Brown
and Tony Blair could see that universities were going bust,
they couldn't accommodate the students and provide
good quality education so that's what they did.
When we came into the coalition, we promised not to increase tuition
fees, it was obviously undeliverable, we had
to do it, we paid a big political price for it.
But the question I had to face and I was given the hospital
pass of this policy, was what do you do?
You've got 40% of young people going to university,
we want to maintain world class standards, how do you pay for it?
You can ask the rest of the public to pay for it in tax and remember
that about 80% of adults never went to university so why
should they pay?
You can do what they do in Scotland, which is they pretend it's free
but then they raid the budget of schools and further education
colleges to pay for it.
Or you can do what we now do, which is to have a kind of graduate
tax, that's basically what it is, people who benefit from higher
education if they get a decent income later in life,
they pay progressively according to their income.
It's not ideal, I can understand all the anxieties people
have about the system, but what is the alternative,
how do you pay for it otherwise?
This is basic reality.
Hopefully this year I'm going to university and I have
friends in my cohort who've not even started the process
because they know how much it will cost and they know
that they can't afford it, so tuition fees do single out and it
puts a lot of people off.
Even though it was defined as a graduate tax, in other
words you only pay it when you start earning?
Yes, because ?21,000 is the point you then start paying,
if you earn over ?21,000, you then have to pay.
A lot of people will earn over ?21,000 so they'll
have to pay it back.
If you pay for tuition fees, if the Government does
and we don't have to, then the Government will
know how much they have to spend on tuition fees.
At the moment they don't know.
They don't know if 20,000 people are going to not pay
or they will know that they have to pay and not who won't pay.
You in the front?
In Scotland, obviously they don't pay for tuition fees
going to university.
If they're Scottish, the English pay, of course.
But from my understanding, there's a lot less places for people
to go to university because that Government are paying
so if we had free fees surely there would be a lot less places
in England for students.
This is a very important point that's just been made.
Because there are no tuition fees in Scotland for Scots,
the serious problem with this is that the universities
don't get enough money.
The universities themselves mind very much.
They don't quite like saying it because it sounds as if they're
indifferent to the sufferings of those that have to pay the money.
To be world class universities, they have to get in more
money than you can get in from Government payment.
So what happens in Scotland and I know this because our son
was in a Scottish university and he's English, and he paid
the full whack therefore but what that means
is that the Scottish Government actually Scottish university rather
want more English students because they get more money
and they want more foreign students because they get more money
and they don't want more Scottish students
because they get less money.
If you think about the ultimate benefit of the education
the universities can provide, there have to be higher fees.
That's why it all came about that it went up to ?9,000 when it used
to be ?3,000 and so on, because otherwise you are going to
get very weak university education.
Nobody benefits and you're not learning anything.
We only have a minute left?
I have to challenge the idea that there's somehow an inevitability
about bringing in tuition fees, Vince.
The only inevitability was that you saw the young
people and you thought, they are an easy target.
That is why you went for them.
And you broke your promise.
It is the big corporations who benefit from the education
that's given to graduates.
They're the one who is make the excess profits of this
They're the ones who make the excess profits of this education,
it's time they gave back.
Now, there is enough money around.
There is this lie that there's not enough money.
The problem is not there is not enough money,
the money is in the wrong hands.
We have had corporation tax cut and cut and cut since 2010.
From 27% down to 19%.
If we reverse the cuts, that's not even up to the EU average
level or the G7 average level, we'd still be lowerer
level or the G7 average level, we'd still be lower,
we could raise ?9 billion a year, rising to ?12 billion a year
which would be enough, not just to get rid of tuition
fees but to reintroduce a maintenance grant.
That's what I want for my daughter who is about to go to university.
I don't want our public sector debt taken away from the public sector
and put around the necks of our young people.
That is not the future that we need.
There are many hands up.
I'm sorry, we have to stop because our time's up, as ever.
We are going to be in Belfast next week, we are going to be in Barnet
in north London the week after that.
A reminder of the leader specials, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
in York on Friday 2nd June and Nicola Sturgeon and Tim Farron
on Sunday 4th in Edinburgh, not head-to-head but one
after the other.
If you want to argue with them, quiz them, the details of how
to apply are on the screen.
If you are listening to this on Five Live,
If you are listening to this on Five Live,
I was going to say the debate goes on, but there is a phone-in
discussion, it's not the debate because everybody here goes home.
That was on Question Time extra time.
The panel and audience go home.
My thanks to the panel and to all of you who came
to Norwich to take part in this edition of Question Time.
Until next Thursday, good night.
David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Norwich.
On the panel are Conservative international development secretary Priti Patel; Labour's shadow education secretary Angela Rayner; Lib Dem and former business secretary Vince Cable; Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley; former Daily Telegraph editor and official Margaret Thatcher biographer Charles Moore.