22/06/2017 Question Time


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


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