David Dimbleby chairs topical debate from Plymouth.
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Tonight, we are in Plymouth, and welcome to Question Time.
And on our panel here, the new Conservative Justice
Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth.
The newly elected leader of the SNP in the House
The Daily Mail columnist, Peter Oborne.
And the businesswoman who took the Government
to court over Brexit, Gina Miller.
And from home of course, you have Twitter, Facebook,
you can use hashtag BBCQT, or you can text us on 83981,
and if you push the red button you can see what others are saying.
Our first question tonight from Daniel Winston, please.
Given that major policies from the Conservative
manifesto were missing from the Queen's Speech,
is it time for Theresa May to finally admit that she does not
And if you look at the outcome of the general election,
while we did not get the overall majority that we had hoped for,
and that clearly has consequences for the legislation that we are able
to take through Parliament and means that we have to look for ways
in which to work with other parties on issues where there is common
ground, then the Conservative Party remains over 50 seats ahead
And if you add Labour, Lib Dem, Nationalist MPs together,
there are still fewer MPs than there are Conservatives.
So I think we have a responsibility to get on and govern.
And in the circumstances the electorate has given us,
and if you look at the programme, amidst the legislation
and the non-legislative initiatives that have been announced on sorting
out Brexit in a way that protects the interests of all parts of this
country and gives us a stable statute book the day that we leave,
if you look at the measures on the economy, boost to technical
education, taking forward the biggest infrastructure programme
that we've had in more than a century, measures
But the question is about all the things that dropped out.
People went to the polls and all the things they may have
And you can only take legislation through, David,
We have to live with the cards the electorate has given you.
I think that after a vanity referendum and a vanity election,
I think that what we have is a crisis of legitimacy.
Yes, I think that's a very good description, and to answer
Daniel's question directly, yes, we have possibly the thinnest
Queen's Speech for over 100 years and the weakest and most unstable
And when you look at the big challenges facing the country, yes,
we have the challenge of Brexit, where we start those negotiations
We have an NHS in crisis, with waiting lists close
to four million and parts of it being sold off and privatised.
We have a child poverty crisis, with child poverty likely to hit
On the economy, we have wages stagnating, we have
zero-hours contracts, insecure work and people
And as we have seen in recent days, in very tragic circumstances, stark
And there were no answers in this Queen's Speech to any of those.
And the driving force of this Government now
is their own political survival, not the interests of
I want her to reverse the austerity cuts to public services.
I want her to reverse the cuts to the schools.
I want her to reverse the cuts to the National Health Service.
And I want her to reverse the cuts to social care.
By the way, incredibly decent of Mr Ashworth
and his colleagues to sit on the opposition benches, given
They actually were hammered in this election.
They were 2 million votes worse off than the Tories.
We are in Plymouth where we took a seat off the Tories.
And Peter, when Theresa May went to the country,
she thought she was going to get a landslide victory.
She was putting the party interest first.
She has not got a majority in Parliament.
Even by your own pathetic logic, if the country rejected her,
How can we trust Theresa May to deliver Brexit when she can
You know, the hubris from this Prime Minister is astonishing.
Really the contempt I think she has had for Parliament
Saying that she was going into this election expecting a landslide.
My goodness, she has been given a bloody nose.
And perhaps she can actually take some lessons from us up in Scotland.
We in the SNP, we won the last three Scottish elections and we've
actually just won this election in Scotland as well,
There are two major issues we are facing.
And I think it's absolutely crystal clear from the election result
we had two weeks ago there is no longer a majority for a hard Brexit.
We have to have humility from the Prime Minister.
She needs to reach an accommodation with all the people in this country.
Now, we accept that the United Kingdom voted to leave
the EU but we also need to have a recognition
from the Prime Minister that Scotland, Northern Ireland
And it's important that what we have respect across all the government
The Prime Minister promised us that we would have the views
of the Scottish Government and others taken into account.
There has to be a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee
and we need to make sure, as many have argued for,
that the administrations in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh
You think you can hold up the process?
What we have said is that we are willing to compromise.
We published a document last December recognising
the position that the UK is in, but saying quite clearly
that we cannot be dragged out of the single market
There are 80,000 jobs in Scotland, many more throughout the UK that
What do you mean by you are willing to compromise?
You are not in a position to demand a compromise, are you?
You don't have a majority, you can't put a majority
We don't have a majority in the House of Commons
but the point is the Government in London doesn't have a majority,
and the Government's going to have to listen.
Even if you look at the Queen's Speech, it talks about this,
about building a consensus across the devolved nations.
So we're willing to do that, but we need to make sure
that the devolved administrations will be there.
We now know that the Government is going to have to come
to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government and get
So the Government have now got to extend that hand of friendship,
to allow us to make sure that we can protect the interests
of the Scottish people and the Scottish economy,
and by extension we will do a job for people in the rest
But lastly also, it's about austerity.
There's 9 billion of additional cuts coming in this Parliament,
and we need to make sure there's an alternative to those cuts,
I find it extraordinary the arguing and name-calling that goes
Do you not appreciate where we are, the severity of where we are?
Brexit has fractured everything we took for granted as our society.
And we need to be very, very realistic about where we are,
Because what the Queen's Speech showed is that Government
It's not looking after, as somebody mentioned, NHS, or education.
It is obsessing with Brexit because they have no idea how
they are going to do it in the time, how they are going to get
To have said there isn't going to be a Queen's speech next year is just
a travesty of democracy, to say that they are just
But when it comes to the question on the DUP, there is something that
people seem to have missed about this negotiations on DUP.
If the DUP get this hard-headed negotiation, 2.5 billion,
that they are asking for, the Barnett Formula says
that the other devolved powers are going to have
That's about 3 billion for Wales, about eight
So we in the UK are suddenly going to have to foot that bill.
Let me go to one or two members of the audience and then come back.
I'd like to follow on from Gina Miller.
The irony that we are in the United Kingdom
Surely we should be looking at a cross-party alliance.
Every single person has voted, every single person is affected by Brexit.
However, I do not believe that Tories should be
Isn't it the case that Theresa May would already be long gone
if the video of her saying to a police officer,
"Stop scaremongering, stop crying wolf", a Manchester
police officer, warning her, pleading with her to reconsider
the massive cuts she made to policing as Home Secretary,
The media have failed this country terribly in not
showing this to the public before the election.
Talking about a cross-party alliance to put through Brexit,
But I think I would say something to the Remainers,
and to people like Gina, to be honest, and probably to quite
There was a vote this time last year, 12 months ago,
where the majority of the British people voted for Brexit.
We then had a general election where 83% of the country
I say to the Remainers, yes come on board, let's do
a constructive Brexit, don't try and wreck it.
Actually, I ensured there was a legal Brexit
because if you'd had your way, what we'd have is an illegal Brexit
where a Prime Minister was putting herself above what,
Parliamentary sovereignty which is the thing you were all
You said no objection with Parliamentary sovereignty,
Theresa May actually got a million more votes than Labour so where's
the million other voices coming from then?
In the referendum, EU citizens were affected by it.
We were not asked and the people who were UK citizens were not asked
So the majority was made up of that and lies and still there is no way
that people understand what it means to leave.
It's an absolute disgrace that a year on from the European
referendum, and I've had European citizens coming to my surgery
in tears, because they don't know if their rights
This Government could have made a decision to say that those
European citizens here, our families, our friends,
our colleagues, they're here, they're staying and their rights
Well, we did make just that offer last year and while some
of our colleagues in Europe were willing to accept
that and talk about it, the view amongst others was that
until Article 50 had been triggered, that they could not get involved.
We should be saying to these people, your future is safe in our country,
The threat of deportation that many see is absolutely abhorrent.
Hang on a second, Theresa May's apparently today
Of course what that guarantee consists of we don't know,
but has guaranteed the rights of the citizens
That's not been announced in Parliament.
If you are going to treat this country with respect,
that announcement has to be made in Parliament and there should be
What she is doing is explaining the offer in the context
of the negotiations to her fellow heads of Government at their meeting
Why wasn't there an amendment in the Article 50 Bill?
We made an offer to sort 24 issue out ahead of triggering Article 50.
The response from your European colleagues was until that
treaty process had begun, we couldn't do so.
Let me respond if I may, because one of the points has been
I was handing out leaflets campaigning very hard
I was deeply disappointed by the result but I know had it been
52-48 the other way round, I would have been squaring up
to those of my colleagues in Parliament who'd campaigned
to leave and say sorry chaps, I know it's not what you wanted
but you have to accept the public verdict and I think
if we are somehow setting aside how people had voted...
Don't shout out, I'll bring a microphone to
If you shout out, nobody will hear you.
If we set aside how people had voted, that will do profound damage
to public confidence in the democratic process
I want to hear this man here because he's been shouting out,
he might as well say what he's got to say.
It's somewhat unedifying to see all the politicians and non-politicians
There's a common consensus here and you're all dodging
The millions of people watching television tonight are screaming
and shouting probably at their television screens
because you are all studiously avoiding the question -
the question was, has Theresa May's Government got
any legitimacy after losing their majority.
All the pundits, all the academics, commentariats, career politicians
represented gathering around this panel tonight guaranteed that
Theresa May's gamble would pay off, that she would come back
with a majority of 100 seats, 120 seats, that Corbyn would be
Jeremy Corbyn's proven that anti-austerity policies are popular.
The Tories and the Blairites lost that election.
We were talking about Brexit and we've got a Brexit question
I would like to take and then we'll go back to maybe Corbyn
One year on from the EU referendum, are we any wiser
We have all been talking about Brexit.
It's still the back of an envelope proposition,
we still haven't seen any details, that's what worries me.
All this remain/leave debate, it's got to move on.
Everyone has to move on because it's not about going back,
We need to see the details, we need to see the direction of travel,
what are the options, and there is nothing,
there is rhetoric, it is empty and means nothing.
Sorry, I'm not clear what you are asking for.
Do you have a view of what you think Brexit should be like or are
you saying that the Prime Minister should say, or David Davis should
It should be quite clearly a cross party delegation committee,
however you want to call it, that goes forward for the best
If they cannot get the best possible deal which gets us into somewhere
which isn't similar economically and socially from the defence point
of view, all those sorts of different facets,
and it's not achievable in the two years, then to my mind,
the first thing that should happen is a transitional period should be
talked about because it cannot be done in 12 months.
You cannot undo 43 years in 12 months.
The reason I say 12 months is because it won't start
until after the general elections and it needs, as we know,
a ratification period of about six months so it's just impossible.
Let's start talking about reality here.
Do you go into the board telling everybody what you're going to do
No, you keep it close to your chest and you tell it
The country don't need to know it all yet,
when she knows what she needs, she can let us know.
Wendy, when I do a negotiating strategy, I have to prepare a very
detailed cost analysis of why I'm going down that strategy
When you go into negotiation, you have to have a position,
Those that need to know know, why should you need to know?
No, no, I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about the country.
No, no, you're talking about you as well, you don't need
to know, none of us need to know yet exactly what's on the table.
You should want to know what is going.
No, because we know we want to get out of it and that's
She won't tell you until she's gone to the table and put it
Let's hear from David Lidington on that particular point.
Does the Prime Minister,or does David Davis know what he wants and,
would you then tell us if you think he does?
We know what we want and we've set out the objectives of
Those include sorting out on a reciprocal basis
the rights of EU citizens here and our own citizens
It includes an ambitious third country trade and cooperation
agreement with the EU so that we maintain as free trade
as possible in those circumstances, that we have arrangements that allow
us to continue cooperating with the 27 who'll remain,
you know, very close, friends, neighbours
David, you will be worrying her because she doesn't want
This is laid out in public as an objective.
What we are not going to do is to publish a long,
detailed analysis of our negotiating position, what we say
if the European Union says this to us we'll respond in that way.
Nobody in business, nobody in politics, if they're sane
does that and reveals it to the other side.
Do you agree that the Government's behaving properly and
I'm afraid we are not very clear about what the Government's position
is, and to be frank, yes, look, I accept that the country
voted for Brexit, I obviously campaigned and voted for remain
but the country's made a decision and I accept that and we have
to move forward and get the best possible deal that puts jobs
and prosperity first here in the United Kingdom.
But to be frank, I wouldn't trust Theresa May to negotiate her way
She still hasn't negotiated the deal with ten DUP MPs, how on earth
is she going to negotiate a deal with 27 other European nations.
And David Davis in the general election campaign went on one
of your rival TV shows and said we are going to have the summer
of all rows with the EU over the timetable.
He's just caved in this week on the negotiation table.
They are not going to put the British interests first.
She's lost her mandate, she's lost all authority,
they know that and they cannot negotiate the deal.
Even without the DUP, the Conservatives have a three
Minority Governments, there is a long history
It's unstable, as you know, come off it.
I'm saying that Theresa May does not just have legitimacy,
she has a constitutional duty to form a Government
as the largest minority party, she also has a majority,
an effective majority over all other parties put together even
without the DUP and we mustn't get too excited about this.
This Government I'm afraid, it's a great disappointment
to you I know, can easily last a very long time.
The question was, what does Brexit mean?
We don't know what it's going to look like and of course
we need to know, we need to be able to plan our live, businesses,
we need to be able to plan future strategies after Brexit
The EU published its negotiating guidelines ages ago
so we know what their stamp on it is but we don't
know what ours is, how is that feasible for people
You are absolutely right, in has to be a plan.
This is not a Government with a plan, this is a shambles.
When we had the Article 50 debate in the last Parliament,
one of the things we pushed for in the Scottish National Party
was to have a so-called reset clause which would have been fantastic
opportunity for the Government because if the Government
comes back with no deal, it means we reset the whole process
that there's an alternative to crashing out of the EU and coming
Unfortunately, the Conservatives and Labour would not vote for that
opportunity that would have given some protection for people right
People talk about the fact that the UK voted to come out,
We were told in our referendum in 2014 in Scotland that if we voted
to stay within the UK, that our rights to remain
Where is the respect to the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland
What the Government has to do is to recognise that it's not that
They've got to build compromise across the people and the nations
of the United Kingdom that respect the differences that exist and allow
us together to put forward a deal that would be one that will be
to the advantage of all nations of this country.
A lot of hands are up, I'll come to you in a second,
but David Lidington, we have had voices in Europe now,
Donald Tusk saying today he was keeping the door open
And the Dutch Prime Minister saying he hates Brexit from every angle
and hopes the UK opts for some form of continued membership.
What is the Government's attitude to people in Europe saying, hey,
Whatever view those of us in Government took in the referendum
and there were people who were partisans on both
sides in the referendum, but that decision has been taken.
But you must love Donald Tusk and Mark Rutte saying these things?
What I would say to Donald and Mark and the others,
many of these are people I used to see a lot when I was
Europe Minister is, right, we want to maintain a close,
friendly partnership, we want to have what the PM's termed
a deep and special partnership with the 27 countries
of the European Union, because there are many challenges
There are many things on which we can cooperate together
even with us being outside membership of the European Union.
So let's try and build that new partnership of cooperation
with those neighbouring countries and approach this in a constructive
fashion but respecting the democratic decision
that the people of the United Kingdom were entitled to take.
I work for a local manufacturer who exports around the world.
We do a lot to Europe, some to the rest of the world.
The rest of the world is a really really tough place
Yes, we do it, but Europe is so much closer, geographically, culturally.
If there is something to reassure business,
something like, yes, we are going to stay
in the single market, something like that...
Do you expect to get something like that?
Certainly staying in the customs union would be really reassuring
David talks about wanting free trade with Europe,
But the answer to that is the single market.
I think in terms of the need to know about what the Brexit plans are,
the general election shows that we do need to know.
If you want my vote, if you want my trust,
I need to know what I may or may not be voting for.
I think in the absence of that knowledge, people didn't vote
for the Conservative Party that were frankly full of lies,
I think in terms of the referendum, the one thing we know about that is,
yes, OK, one side won, but it was marginal.
So the only logical conclusion is the most marginal Brexit
imaginable, that would do its best to unite both sides under some kind
The woman up there in the second row from the back.
I will go to you and then the person beside you, if you like.
Yes, I think some people are getting a little bit fed up
We want to know hard and fast, what does it mean?
Some of us, quite frankly, you hear Brexit and you start switching off.
Let's then move on and look at society and look at all
the things that also need looking at, education, NHS, etc.
I'd like to say, if Europe wanted us to stay in,
why didn't they give David Cameron a better deal when he went
We didn't know what Brexit was going to mean when we voted
Lies were printed in papers like the Daily Mail,
So don't we have a responsibility to the British
people to give them a referendum when we know the facts?
What were the lies in the Daily Mail?
Hospitals have seen none of that.
The Mail is an extremely accurate and fair paper.
You may not like it, but it is read by an awful lot of people,
Including, I imagine, a lot of you in this audience.
It's a great newspaper, it doesn't tell lies.
To be fair to the Mail, I think it was Boris Johnson
and Michael Gove who promised us 350 million a week to the NHS.
And I bet you we won't see a penny piece of that
The man in the back row, about eight down.
I would just like to say that the answer to the reason why
people don't actually know that many details about what's happening
with Brexit is because it's completely unprecedented.
We literally are going into unprecedented waters.
We are not going to know what's going to happen on the other side.
And secondly, can all the parties just kind of come to a consensus?
Because you all fundamentally want the same things.
I'd like to answer the lady in the blue at the top right,
who made such an interesting point about Brexit getting
What I'd say is this, the reason we voted for independence
for Britain is that we wanted a democracy where we make
our decisions about how we govern ourselves.
We can't govern ourselves until we've got Brexit
because democratic decisions can't be made by politicians in Britain
At the moment, they are made by commissioners and foreign powers.
OK, now look, we began with a question about whether Theresa May
has to admit she doesn't have a mandate.
So what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, so to speak.
And let's take a question, please, from Daniel Bulmer.
Why won't Jeremy Corbyn accept that he lost the general election?
And citing in evidence John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor
saying, "I don't think they have the right to govern,
they have junked the manifesto", calling for a million people
on the streets of London to ensure another election comes
Why can't you accept you were defeated?
Well, we do accept the election result.
We accept the fact that the Tories thought they were going to get
a landslide victory and they are a minority government.
I'm afraid, sir, it's not irrelevant.
Because we now have a weak minority government.
And we were told in that general election campaign
that she needed a big mandate, that she needed a substantial
majority in order to get the best deal for Brexit.
She was sent back to the House of Commons as a failure,
as the leader of a minority government.
We have a Government who may well be in authority
They have had to junk their plans to snatch away
They have had to junk their plans for grammar schools.
They have had to junk their plans for the dementia tax.
Because they know they can't get it through the House of Commons.
They've got the right to form the Government.
Your Chancellor, senior to you in the Shadow Cabinet, says
We are all equals in the Shadow Cabinet.
So you can disagree with each other and general chaos
The only chaos is on the Tory side, David, not our side.
More examples of the name-calling and things.
And the realism is that as we are sitting here this evening,
the EU 27 are sitting having a dinner at which Mrs May will talk.
Then she will leave and then they will carve up
They will be debating the European Medical Association.
They will be debating who gets the European clearing house, EBA.
So this whole idea of what's going on here and what we are
going to be negotiating, actually we are negotiating
And we've got to be realistic about that.
And that's why I think a lot of this, what's been said,
We are talking about domestic politics just for a moment.
You said about the means testing, mentioned the Winter Fuel Payments.
What that means is that rich people should not be able to get
That money that is saved from that can then go into social care,
because social care needs extra money.
And the negativity about Brexit is shocking.
It's an opportunity for Britain to succeed in the world.
The point is, that policy is not going to happen
I'm going to try and get people who haven't spoken.
I just think that the whole Brexit thing is a good example of the fact
that party politics is failing, and what we need to go back
to is what Parliament was built for and intended for,
which is people like me, an independent candidate
That's what we need, because people are putting
their parties first, before people, and
I'm not a Daily Mail reader, but I have read Animal Farm
and wasn't it George Orwell wrote that "some are more
But my main point is that, sadly, I think we could do with a lot more
The fact is that, with respect to Ian for the SNP, congratulations
on your appointment, but you lost 24 out of 56 seats.
And I certainly agree that the Conservative campaign
was from the textbook how not to run an election.
But nevertheless, Labour did finish 50 seats behind.
So to pretend that that is a win is just absolute nonsense.
I think we might go on because we are over halfway
I'd like an opportunity to answer his question.
The question about whether Corbyn lost the election.
Because I think the important thing is that this is a Parliament
of minorities, but we went into this election with a Conservative
Now, I actually think there is an opportunity that
will come out of this, because I do not believe
that there is support across the United Kingdom for austerity.
And I would say to Jonathan and to others, and to some friends,
even on the Conservative benches, where there are things
which are patently wrong, we have to tackle them.
And I think one of the reasons that the Conservatives lost that
majority support was the attack on the elderly.
And one of the biggest injustices is the one that is faced by many
women that were born in the 1950s, that have seen an increase
in their pensionable age, which is increasing by six years
over a very short period, and some of these women were only
That's one thing where I want to see a cross-party consensus,
that women born in the 1950s get what is rightfully theirs,
Something very frightening is happening.
If we had another general election, SNP might well end up
They both of them are against what they call austerity.
And so they have no idea about economics, how
to run a country or how to balance the books.
I know the NHS is on its knees and we've got a winter crisis.
I know the schools are being cut back.
I know child poverty is going to rise to 5 million.
I know that disabled people are having their benefits cut.
That's what austerity is, and that's why we are opposed to it.
We will try and keep to the question that
Daniel Bulmer asked, if you don't mind, which was why
won't Labour accept the result of the election?
Can I start by saying this about Jeremy Corbyn?
I probably disagree with him on practically everything
and I believe the policies that he champions would bring
ruin to the country, but I do think that actually
all political parties perhaps need to take note of the fact
that his campaign was able to touch a chord with a lot of people
who felt alienated from the political process.
And I think the gentleman there talked about humility,
and I think we do need to approach the result with humility.
Certainly we do, and all political parties do.
And I think we have to play the cards the electorate has dealt us.
That does not take away some of the very big challenges.
The gentleman over there talked about social care.
We have an ageing society, more people living to a great age.
We have to find ways in which to continue to put more
resources into social care in a way which...
Don't shout out, please, because he has to go
So you might as well keep quiet and hear what he has to say.
You are one person in an audience of 150.
I don't want you taking over this programme.
And we have to find a way of getting extra resource
into social care which is fair between the generations.
Because you cannot simply add to the taxes all the time of younger
And the corporation tax yield has gone shooting up
since the Government reduced the rates of corporation tax,
providing more money for the National Health Service,
schools, social care and the other public services,
so please show a bit of financial literacy.
One of the things I'm very concerned about is this whole idea
about balancing the books and Brexit and who pays the price at the end
of it, because I can see we are leaving problems,
piling it up for the next generations.
Because actually, the national debt...
The Tories have not balanced the books, because our debt has gone
The question was about, and you may have forgotten
because it was some time ago, the question was about why
Do you think Labour is not accepting the result of the election?
I thought we had gone on to the others.
Try and get back to the point, if you can.
I'm sorry, we live in a democratic process where the Conservatives won.
They didn't win by a landslide, so it was a hung parliament.
I'm not a Conservative, so I didn't lose anything.
There is a hung parliament, which is constitutionally
allowed in this country, even if there is no
The government can operate, because they won.
Do we want more instability in this country?
I think you ought to leave, you know, because...
that the maths does not work with Labour and all the other
I'm not a Conservative voter but I think we need some type of stability
in our country. We need to let the Government see if they can carry
this forward. We don't know if they can. The first hurdle will be
whether they can get the vote on the Queen's Speech next week. If they do
not, it will be the first time the Queen's speech has been voted on and
not gone through. That's how Farage ill our constitutional landscape is,
that's how fragile our political landscape is. We have to be sensible
about this, we have to let the Government try.
I can see you are keen to speak but we have another question. We are 40
minutes through the programme. Before we go to it, we are in
Hastings next week. If you didn't feel you had your shout here, you
can come there. And we are in Burton upon Trent the week after that, so
Hastings then Burton. The details of how to get to be in the audience are
on the screen and I'll give them again at the end. This question from
Chris Wilcox, please? Is austerity responsible for the
deaths of the Grenfell residents? There is a context here in Plymouth
because it's been confirmed today that three of the tower blocks in
Plymouth are among the seven in the UK that have so far been revealed of
having similar cladding to the Grenfell Tower. But the question is,
I suppose, springs from Labour's point about this, if you deny local
authorities the funding they need, there's a price to be paid, as
Jeremy Corbyn said. Ian Blacked for is austerity responsible? It's
important firstly that we pay our respects to the people that suffered
as we saw the terrible horror of the people and the terror they must have
gone through. We are also aware of the tremendous emergency services.
APPLAUSE. I am delighted there'll be a public
inquiry and it's important that those that lived in the gren fell
tower get the answers that they deserve. First and foremost, it
should be about the people there. There has to be an absolute
determination by all of us that this must never happen again. To what
extent do you think from what has come out already that austerity and
cuts and the funding of local councils across the country under
both Labour and Conservative administrations has led to people
cutting corners? We have to look at what we have done with quantitative
easing. We have poured ?435 billion into quantitative easing at the time
we said we haven't got money for fiscal responsibilities. We have a
responsibility to make sure we have a society that has money. We
havended up in this situation. We all have to learn lessons. The
political culture that has developed, and also the fact that we
need to have a balanced housing policy and we need to recognise for
for people living in social housing, we deserve to have the best
circumstances and building materials as we would have in private estates
as well. APPLAUSE.
First of all it's very important to say we don't know the answer. It's
very important not to... The Government's called rightly, a full
inquiry. We mustn't jump to conclusions or make sweeping
statements after a day or two, as I think some have. It's of such a
serious issue and it's so clearly the case these all be made safe,
these tower blocks. Paradoxically, it looks as though spending money
made the tower blocks more dangerous because this cladding was added and
it's flammable and without the old system whereby each flat was
protected from each other one seems to have somehow been broken down.
But that said, I do think there is an issue about the kind of society
we live in. I think there is a metaphor about Kensington and
Chelsea although there is no evidence that it could have happened
near a Labour borough as well. Kensington and Chelsea boast about
how low their rates are in a borough where so many people are very, very
rich, and I do worry that there is something wrong about that.
The man there in the white shirt? The building regulations have not
been changed for 20 years by successive Governments. Theresa May
should order a ban on using any type of cladding until the public inquiry
concludes. OK. But the question is... You at the centre, the third
row from the back? I would like to correct his facts. Whose facts? Mr
Oborne. The cladding that was put on was flammable and it was ?2 less a
unit than the fire resistant stuff. The price to put the fire resistant
cladding on would have been ?5,000 for the entire building! And you're
telling me this is not because of austerity, that we don't know the
answer. I'm absolutely flabbergasted, Sir. That wasn't his
answer. His answer was the cladding was the
flammable cause why the flames jumped from flat-to-flat. That was
his... It would have taken ?2 more to put the fire resistant cladding
on and that austerity council decided to put the cheaper stuff on.
Can I say something... There were no fire extinguishers in
the flats, we know that, and no sprinkling system. One thing I'm
more concerned about, we are looking at all the other tower blocks. But
what about all the other public buildings like schools and places we
go to work and everywhere else, does this mean there should actually be a
review of all public buildings because if you look at it, some of
the new schools don't have sprinkler systems because it's not required.
David Lidington is there an issue of austerity? Firstly I want to say, I
want to agree with Ian, actually whatever our politics here, I think
any words are frankly inadequate to describe what the families have gone
through. I think that all parties who've all been in Government at
various times in the last 25 years, we all need to do a bit of soul
searching about this and Peter did touch on the important point because
one of the things that strikes me is that the local community in North
Ken clearly feels utterly mistrustful of, and alienated from
public authorities and officialdom of all types. That does say to me
that, as a country - again I hope this can be sort of cross party
views - we have to do something to heal that division. These people are
as much part of our country and are entitled to the right
responsibilities of citizens of this country as any of us on the panel or
any of us here in the audience. APPLAUSE.
Now, in terms of attributing blame, I'll say one technical point to then
talk more generally about. The technical point is that it's already
contrary to existing regulations, to have combustible cladding on any
high-rise. I think Camden Council's already said this evening that
they're taking legal advice having found that combustible cladding is
allegedly on at least one of their tower blocks. There is a Fire
Service investigation under way to diagnose precisely the cause of this
fire and what the various contributory factors were. There is
a criminal investigation going on and I'm going to be very careful in
what I say because I don't want to use any language that might, if a
person or a company was subsequently charged with a criminal offence,
could prejudice a trial in court, which is what might happen. The
inquiry will be led by a judge appointed by the Lord Chief Justice
with full powers to call for witnesses, for documentary evidence.
I think it's the inquiry, the various inquiry investigations I
describe that will give us the answers. I've already said
combustible cladding in a high-rise is contrary to existing rules, and
we need to let the experts examine the evidence and then we should act
swiftly on the findings of those investigations. All right. Jonathan
Ashworth? Austerity was the question, as the
man pointed out? Like all on the panel, thoughts with those who lost
their lives and with loved ones and those who need help to rebuild their
lives, it will probably take months, years. I want to pay tribute to the
extraordinary efforts of the emergency services. Haven't our
emergency services been tested so many times in recent weeks and
months and haven't they done us proud.
APPLAUSE. We need an inquiry, it does appear,
according to reports, that the council chose this cheaper cladding,
we need to understand what the legalities of it are and we need to
know why the local authority came to that decision. On the point about
austerity, there is an issue here because many local authorities
across the country have not been able to, but are now quite rightly
wanting to fit sprinklers, went to change cladding on buildings. One
thing I want to say to you David in all sincerity is, please as a
Government give local authorities the money to fit the sprinklers now,
they need them now. APPLAUSE.
We've got three or four minutes left. Terry Portman, your question?
If the DUP get an extra ?2 billion for Northern Ireland for their ten
MPs to support the Government, can Devon and Cornwall expect ?4 billion
for our 20 MPs to support the Government?
APPLAUSE. Peter Oborne? I don't think ?2
billion is the right sum of money to give to the DUP. You cannot allow
yourself to bribe MPs for support. But if they do get it, should Devon
and Cornwall get some? Setting out an excellent reason why the Tory
party should not do a deal with the DUP because the SNP, they'll be
after more money next and so will everybody else. Devon and Cornwall
won't. You want to treated as a special case like Northern Ireland.
Do you want independence? Maybe we'd get our railway here and your people
could arrive on time. You want to be treated like Scotland and Wales and
Northern Ireland? All right. David Lidington, you've got a minute. Or
less. Right. Devon and corn, particularly Plymouth and Cornwall,
too many people fail to realise, they're pretty poor in the material
sense, in this part of the country. So we do need to... We know that.
Which is why spending has gone up, I could point to the increases that
the local Health Service is getting here to the money that's been set
aside to try and provide must have-needed improvement to transport
links. Nonsense. You will only be able to distribute money if it's
been created by a free enterprise economy that thrives in the first
place. So how is the DUP going to get the extra money? I don't know
what is going to come out of those talks. She thinks the DUP are
getting it. I think let us see what comes out of the negotiations. Ian
Blacked for, I have to whizz round. One thing we have said is austerity
must end. After the next ?118 billion to be invested in this
Parliament - by the way, that would balance the books - we have to
recognise the fact that wages are lower than inflation. There is a
pressure on living standards, we need to investigate in the living
standards, Plymouth, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, give some
people hope of a better future. OK. Gina Miller?
The magic money tree is an interesting one because I have to
say, even independent sources have said both manifestos were not costed
in any realistic way and all of this promising of money, where is it
going to come from at a time when our economy now is... We are now the
lowest of all the EU member states when you look at our economy growth
this year. APPLAUSE.
I mean, you know, we are endangering our country. All the austerity cuts
when it comes to our first response services are being damaged at a time
when we need to feel safe. The man there? We have only got 60 seconds
left. You will have to be quick. Quantitative easing ?70 billion in
August, that's a magic money tree, who does it feed? The banks. We can
raise money for infrastructure for what's important, we can also tax
those who're paying less tax, comparative to support the whole of
the community. All right. Tax them. I don't begrudge the people of
Northern Ireland getting an extra ?1 billion to invest in the National
Health Service, but if they are going to get extra investment, the
English NHS needs extra investment and needs not to be cut back like it
is at the moment. All right. I'm afraid our time is pretty well
up, sorry. Thank you. We only get an hour, you know. Next week we are
going to be in Hastings and we know by next week whether the Government
has survived the votes on the Queen's speech. The international
trade secretary Liam Fox is going to be on the panel. Then in
Burton-on-Trent, go to the website, you can come there, or ring us.
Hastings or Burton-on-Trent. If you are listening on Radio 5 Live,
Question Time extra time follows this television programme. Here, my
thanks to the panel, to all of you who came to Plymouth to take part.
Until next Thursday, from Question Time, good night.
Across the country, 11 million people