David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Dunstable in Bedfordshire. On the panel are Chris Grayling, Lisa Nandy, Sal Brinton, Simon Wolfson and Richard Coles.
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Tonight we're in Dunstable and welcome to Question Time.
And with us here tonight, the Conservative Transport
Secretary, the man who ran Theresa May's campaign to become
Tory leader, Chris Grayling.
The Labour MP, Lisa Nandy.
The President of the Liberal Democrats, Sal Brinton,
the Chief Executive of the high street shop Next, Simon Wolfson,
and probably the only vicar to have had a number one single and was last
seen doing the paso doble on Strictly Come
Dancing, Richard Coles.
If you want to engage in the debate that goes on,
our hashtag is BBCQT.
We are on Twitter and Facebook, or you can text 83981 and push
the red button if you want to see what others are saying.
And only civilised debate, please, not just raw insult,
which seems to be the current mode.
Our first question is from Susan Clark, please,
let's have her question?
In the light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, is sexism just as prevalent
as it was in the 60s and 70s?
Is sexism just as prevalent today as it was in the 60s and 70s?
Yes, I think it is and I'm not surprised by the revelations.
I think many women from my generation in the 70s right the way
through had to learn to put up with it because that is what we were
told to do and we were ignored if we made complaints.
The really positive thing to come out of the dreadful revelations
about Harvey Weinstein has been the #MeToo, me too because now
we all know that it's everywhere and it's not just the occasional
woman's fault for being too attractive or somebody just
trying to make a pass.
Just explain MeToo?
The #MeToo started earlier in the week where, I can't remember
the name of the actor in America, said, if you have faced harassment
of any sort or worse, just do #MeToo, I was surprised
to discover my young daughter had done that
hashtag herself on Twitter.
I did not know but in common with many other young women,
she has got on with her life.
The question for us as a society is, is it acceptable?
And the answer is no and I think finally,
the wider community is understanding that we need to call things out
like this when we see them and support women and men,
because it affects men too, when it happens.
I thought MeToo was brilliant because it revealed something that
perhaps we didn't fully know yet or not all of us fully know yet,
but the sheer extent of that behaviour of men towards women
which is shocking and deplorable.
I think one of the things that depressed me most
of all about it was just how persistent that behaviour's been
in certain places, particularly places where individuals have
extraordinary degrees of power, like a film producer,
in the music industry too, Tom Jones spoke about it earlier
didn't he, having had a similar experience when he was starting out.
I think what I find depressing about it is just how slow some men
have been to learn the lessons of feminism, decades of feminism
now, how slow men are to respect women properly and also
to respect themselves properly.
One of the things that I find most striking about this is the extent
to which those who perpetrate this kind of behaviour seem
to have so little sense of themselves as full human beings,
so little self-respect and I think that's something that men need to do
is to try to understand better why we behave in that sort of way,
we in the most general sense, and to talk a little bit
about what male identity means.
That's got rather left behind I think.
So much of the running has been made about questions
around womens' identity, so we have got a lot
of catching up to do I think.
What about in your trade, Simon Wolfson?
We talked about show business and theatre and all that,
what about in industry and on the shop floor?
I think what you will find is, the more women there
are in an industry, the less sexism there is.
I'm in an industry that has huge numbers of female employees
and I have never come across anything in the work place,
I've never come across an HR case coming anywhere close
to what Harvey Weinstein's done.
So I think while it is incredibly important, is that we are very
careful about how we behave in the work place and that people
understand how you can abuse power.
One good example of that I think is swearing.
I think particularly using sexual swear words in the work place
is threatening for some people, particularly women, and it's that
sort of behaviour I think that we need to make sure doesn't
creep into our businesses and make sure that we are respectful.
I would like to hear from any members of the audience.
As a transgender person, I also say MeToo.
Within a hundred feet of where we are sitting now,
I was physically attacked by a bunch of males.
I've been in a hate crime conference with Bedfordshire Police today
as a guest speaker because of that.
I'll turn that negative into a positive.
Picking up what you were saying about the work place,
on the other hand, I work for Monarch Aircraft Engineering,
part of the former Monarch group, and we'll get to that
in a minute, Chris, I'm sure...
No, no, get to the point.
In my work place, I'm well respected all over the world.
I teach people from all over the world and I'm well respected.
I think I'm with MeToo and I think many people should go with it also.
The question is, is sexism as prevalent
as it was in the 60s or 70s.
You probably weren't around?
I wasn't but I do still think it's still as sexist today.
Even on the way from the car park from here tonight,
we had a man shout out of his car window saying things to us,
and that's literally because my sister was wearing a skirt.
It doesn't go away but I do think that now people in the industries,
like famous people, are speaking out saying these things are happening
to them and people with getting their come-uppance likes
Harvey Weinstein, hopefully it will seep down into general society
and people will learn that it's actually not OK.
I agree with Reverend Richard Coles saying, how can that man who said
that to me and my sister look at us like a human being,
like what is he thinking saying that to a young woman.
We feel scared walking through a park at night,
there's three men sitting on a bench, you don't know
if they are going to say something to you, it's actually very scary.
It's not OK.
I'm sort of a bit tempted to say what she said actually
and just leave it at that but because I wasn't around
in the 60s or 70s either but I don't know a single woman who hasn't been
sexually harassed at some point in their lifetime or worse,
So I don't know how bad it was before but it's
certainly very, very bad now.
I agree with Sal and with other people on the panel who said that
they've been very inspired by the solidarity shown by women
coming out with the hashtag Me Too and talking about their experiences,
but the truth is, that it's 2017 and we shouldn't
be talking about this, we should be acting on it.
And actually, wherever I go in my day job, in politics,
or in my life generally, what I see in these closed rooms
is men in positions of power and women who don't hold that power
and, until we start to think seriously about how we change that,
more diversity in these organisations, much more
transparency so you don't get these examples like the FA this week,
of institutions investigating themselves behind closed doors
and then publishing the outcome.
Unless we start to take that seriously and act,
instead of just talking about it, I fear that when my son grows up,
we'll still be having this conversation then.
But the interesting thing is, has the Harvey Weinstein scandal
actually brought out things and will it change the mood?
I mean, the hashtag MeToo, are people already reconsidering
their attitude, men to women?
Actually, I think one of the most disturbing things about this is that
when there was this outpouring of collective, it felt like therapy
I think for a lot of women just being able to talk about these
things openly, using that hashtag, there was a response
from a significant minority of men, particularly on social media,
that sought to blame the victim.
The response to Emma Thompson for example was, why didn't
you do anything about it, why didn't you speak out earlier.
Until we stop blaming the victims, I think we are going to be
in a very bad place indeed.
The person over there in the checked shirt?
I was around in the 60s and 70s and yes sexism was prevalent
and it is just as prevalent, if not more so now, I believe.
I was sexually harassed, I was groped.
You know, what are we actually meaning here?
We have now got what's come up with what we have heard in the media
this week and the last couple of weeks with a powerful
film producer, you know, Hollywood and everything else,
it's all becoming so big and I'm so pleased it is, it needs to be.
But we do have to be careful that it also does not become a witch-hunt
and people do not just jump on bandwagons for the sake of it.
We had no voice in the 60s and 70s to actually speak out,
we were afraid then as well.
What we have to also be careful of, you know, the hashtag,
that is wonderful, but we also have to be very careful that it
doesn't become much, much, much bigger and people become
victims of that too.
The man in the spectacles there?
The case of institutional sexism is a strange one.
I think it's still prevalent now.
The question, Simon is probably the best to answer this,
a friend of mine a few years ago was approached by Abercrombie
Fitch or Hollister the brand.
They recruit women to work in their shops Purely based
on their appearance.
They just walked up to her in the street and said,
do you do any modelling, do you want a job.
Regardless of her credentials.
How do you remove that as an embedded policy like that
from a huge company?
Chris I'll come to you, but do you want to briefly
answer that, Simon?
It certainly doesn't exist in my company otherwise
I'm pleased to say.
I think the thing that is different today is the horrendous things
we have seen over the last few weeks, the revelations
would not have happened I think 20% 30 years ago.
Our society's a more open place, it's more willing to face up
to these things, it's more willing to condemn.
There is therefore the opportunity to change.
If you go back to the 60s and 70s, and I was a child in the 60s
and a teenager in the 70s, the reality is, as we have so often
heard from the victims, they did not speak out
because nobody would believe them and nobody would have
done anything about it.
It's different today and that has to be the positive.
We'll go on.
We have got a number of questions to Go get
through before we take the next question, as always.
I'm just going to say where we are going to be next week
which is Portsmouth and the week after that in Kilmarnock.
Details on the screen and we'll give them again at the end.
A question from David McNess, please?
How would the panel survive with no income and no
savings and a six-week wait for state support?
A reference to the introduction of the universal credit which has
been very much in the news and been talked about in Parliament.
Simon Wolfson, how would you survive with no income,
no savings and a six-week wait for state support?
I mean I can't imagine how difficult that would be and I think whilst
universal credit in principle is a great idea, the idea you go
to one place that you don't have to fill out millions of forms
in millions of different places, simplifying the process
is completely the right policy.
But this idea that people have got to wait six weeks
to get paid must be wrong.
The reason it's wrong is because what does it cost
the Government to pay people, rather than pay people in arrears,
what would it cost the Government to pay them in advance?
The answer is, they have to borrow a month back of money.
The body that can borrow by far the cheapest in this
country is the Government.
It can borrow at less than a quarter of a percent.
Those people who're in that position, they will have to go
to the very, very most expensive lenders, they'll be borrowing
at rates of 40-50%, so it's insane for the Government not to be
the borrower, rather than the receiver of benefits.
And he's a Conservative supporter and a Conservative funder,
what do you say to him, let alone all the people
who're having difficulty with universal credit?
Let's explain what the universal credit is designed to do.
He's explained that, he said you could borrow the money
and get out of the problem?
Let me explain what it's designed to do.
It's designed to enable people to move into sometimes part-time
work, moving on to full-time work, to have a change of circumstance
where when they're in the system, they don't have to keep logging back
in, logging back on, reclaiming, it's also designed to end
the situation where somebody's working part-time,
16 hours a week...
Sorry, Chris, I'm going to interrupt you.
Everybody knows this, it's been said over and over again.
The question that David McNess asks is about the six-week wait before
money comes through.
Don't bother about why it's there, everybody's
agreed, even Labour agrees on the idea.
Just go to the six week point?
The point I was trying to make is it's designed
to replicate your experience in a job, receiving benefits back
in a job so you actually have a steady flow as you move
into benefits and move back into part-time work.
Now, I don't want anyone to have no money for six weeks.
And we have a system in place that money is available for advance
payments for people who need it, immediately if necessary.
That's the right thing to do.
One in four wait longer than six weeks.
It's a huge reform and has so far been applied to 8%
of benefit claimants.
We are rolling it out very gradually.
We are learning lessons, to make sure things work.
When things don't work as well as they should,
we are making changes.
That's the right thing to do.
Let me get a microphone to you.
I am saying to Mr Grayling, the Tory party, the majority of them
yesterday, they abstained in the House on the vote to give
a buffer period to look into what is going wrong with this,
and they abstained.
That has left the people that are suffering disgusted.
So yesterday's vote was to pause the reform.
But the reform is a positive.
It's having a positive effect.
More people are getting into work from universal credit
than was the case from conventional benefits.
No, no, no, no.
We are making changes as it goes through.
We've improved the situation with advance payments.
So why do you abstain?
Why do you abstain?
Why do you not go to the House like the Speaker has asked
you, and explain this?
I will come back to you.
Lisa Nandy, let's hear from Labour.
It is just not true to say that the government is learning
lessons from the roll-out of this plan.
And the reason I know that is because it was
piloted first in Wigan, where I live, in 2013.
And at the end of that pilot, 80% of people were in rent arrears,
three times as much debt as people who hadn't been in this scheme
who were also in arrears.
So it is not true to say that the government is learning
lessons, and it is not true to say that the government isn't aware
of the scale of human misery that the chaotic roll-out of this
programme has already caused.
And yesterday they were given an opportunity to work with us,
to pause this scheme and work with us to fix it, so that it
could benefit people and not cause that real hardship.
And not only did they refuse to do that, but they didn't even bother
to turn up to defend their policy.
If my constituents didn't turn up, they would be sanctioned and go
without money and anything to eat for a significant amount of time.
And yet that is precisely what the Tory party,
who are permitting this policy, did yesterday.
If there was ever a sign that this group of people is not fit to hold
office in this country, this is it.
The man there, and Lisa, says you failed to turn up to vote.
And even the Speaker of the House of Commons,
rather extraordinarily, said that the government should show
respect to Parliament and say what it intends to do.
Why did you abstain?
Why were you not there?
The government was there, we had ministers speaking in the debate,
we had backbenchers speaking in the debate.
Simply choosing not to vote against a Labour opposition day
motion, which is not a binding motion, does not mean
we failed to turn up.
Total disrespect for people.
It was worse than that.
There was a three-line whip for you to abstain.
They so didn't want a vote that they told people
they had to abstain.
Three-line whip is a bit of an arcane term that we know,
but I just find that is quite extraordinary and it just
demonstrates that the government do not know what they are doing.
They should have stopped the pilot that came in.
The principles were right, Simon is right, the principles
about simplifying the benefits procedure were spot-on.
But as the pilots came in and it became clear there were problems.
And then worse than that, in 2015 the new Conservative
government then started to make cuts to universal credit that have made
things much, much worse.
Lisa Nandy, what do you make of what Simon Wolfson said,
that the government should borrow the money and simply pay people
to get over this six-week pause?
Is that Labour policy too?
I was saying they should pay it in advance, rather than in arrears.
The government says that...
They borrow to do that?
The government says that you can get advance payments,
but I was sitting in my constituency office in Wigan today
discussing this with my staff.
We have had so many of these cases over the last few years,
and they do not tell you about the advance payments.
So nobody knows.
So people aren't getting what they need.
They are being told that they have to wait six weeks for the money,
although one in four are waiting longer because the government can't
get its act together.
But it's worse than that, too.
What we found in the pilot in Wigan is that many people didn't have bank
accounts so they needed time to get up to speed with that.
Many other people weren't online and didn't have
access to the internet, in part because the government has
cut and cut and cut, so they don't have access to those
very basic rights that they need in order to participate in the scheme.
And the government says that people wait six weeks in order to get
a first pay packet in work, but the truth is that for people
who earn the least in this country, usually, a significant minority
of those people are paid weekly, not six-weekly.
So it is just simply not true.
I will come to those of you with your hands
up in just a moment.
What's it like to be skint and then to go six weeks
without any benefit at all?
Well, it's grim, and it's also catastrophic.
I think it's grim.
We see this in numbers where I live of people visiting the food bank.
Not just people out of work, but some people actually in work
visiting food banks.
But I think the catastrophic thing is, more and more people
are getting into rent arrears.
And what concerns me is that a six-week gap in income can create
rent arrears to the extent that you face the reality of eviction.
Nothing seems to me to fray the fabric of the community,
or to undermine the cohesiveness of a community than
And that's something which I think is a major, major problem.
It's harder and harder to access social housing,
because there aren't the resources going into it.
But when you get into rent arrears, then you're
really, really in trouble.
You, sir, in the front.
The government has had four years of trying to get
this problem sorted.
Why hasn't it come up with an answer?
Four years of doing basically nothing.
We've still got major problems.
We've been introducing this very calmly, small, a bit at a time.
8% of people are now claiming the benefit.
You shouldn't have a problem after four years, surely.
So that we learn the lesson and make changes, which we've been doing
with advance payments, for example, making sure people
who really need money can get it on the day.
That's what we've been doing to deal with what is a huge reform and try
and make sure that people don't have to wait six weeks without money.
You shouldn't have a problem, after four years of supposedly
putting it correctly in position.
Simon Wolfson, this talk about advance payments,
does that answer your question?
No, I think benefits should be paid in advance,
rather than in arrears, as I say.
But you say you are already doing that.
If you pay a benefit all the time in advance when someone gets
into work and they are paid in arrears, then
they have a huge gap.
You are looking nonplussed.
If someone comes to work for you, Simon, you pay them
at the end of the month.
If we are paying them at the start of the previous month,
they have two months before their pay packet.
No, the problem, and I'm sure the reason it is paid in arrears,
and the problem is that actually they get paid at the beginning
of the month, and then a week later they get a job.
So actually, they end up being overpaid.
That is the risk of paying in advance.
But you pay people in arrears, don't you?
You pay people in arrears, don't you?
We do, absolutely.
So if the state doesn't do that, it creates a problem with people
moving back into work.
That completely ignores the reality of what is happening to people.
The question was how do you survive for six weeks without any money.
The truth is that you beg and borrow from family and friends
if you are lucky enough to have them.
You are humiliated and you are hungry, and at the end of it
you are tired and you are angry.
And we shouldn't be doing that to people in this country.
The person in the pale jacket.
The contempt that the Tories have for the poor is
People are struggling.
People are struggling as it is, with all the cuts,
with the social care, with NHS, with working conditions,
And again, the fantasy world of the Tories.
"It's OK, we're doing it calmly, we are doing it
la-di-da, it's fine".
Are you in favour of the universal benefit in principle?
In principle, it works.
It is actually better, more cost-effective,
people know what they are getting and it is an introduction
into work, etc.
But for the Tory MPs to blatantly state that this
is an incentive into work, and we are helping you,
and then they can't even do what they are supposed to do
in their job and vote.
This is what is so disgusting and contempt for the poor.
You are a sole voice on this panel on this issue,
so of course you can.
When you talk about people on low income, this is why,
in introducing the national living wage we will,
across the course of this Parliament, have increased income
for those at the lowest level of income by nearly 50%,
because we want those people
to earn a better living.
It's not enough, on the base level that none of the Tory
government seem to be on, the base level of how people
are living, day-to-day, trying to feed their children,
try to clothe them, trying to decide whether to get a school jumper
or actually have a tooth taken out at the dentist.
This is the reality of life.
One more point from the man in front in the red shirt.
The previous speaker has said universal credit has a very
sinister element to it.
The six weeks is not there just by chance.
It's to force people to go to work, on low-paid work, insecure jobs.
So that is the reason why Chris is saying that, "Oh,
"we have a reduction on unemployment", because being
faced with six weeks without money, without income to actually
feed your family or pay for your rent, people will take any
job that is offered to them.
And unless they take it, they lose all their benefit.
Sal Brinton, on that point, you said you were in favour
of universal credit.
You agree with him that the six weeks is designed to
force people into a job?
Or is that not how you see it?
That's not how I see it.
I think the principle about simplifying benefits
is the right idea, because before, we had problems with,
when you were going to the council to get your housing benefit sorted,
or your rent paid, and you were also having to talk to the DWP.
So those are fine.
It's the technical way that these are working.
And you are right, sir, I can remember the Conservatives
talking about, "We need a benefit that will make work pay".
This does not make work pay.
It has become infinitely worse, and a lot of that is
because of the timing issue.
1.5 million people who are with private landlords will not have
housing associations or council landlords who can afford the time
not to do something if people get into rent arrears.
And it is important that we resolve those before there's
any further pilots.
We must move on.
We've got a number of other questions to come to.
Can we take this question from Chris Evans, please?
Is no deal within Europe really such a big issue?
Is no deal within Europe really such a big issue?
Lisa Nandy, no deal, where do you stand on it?
It would be a catastrophe.
It is a big issue.
It's the biggest issue that this country currently faces.
The reality is that if we end up coming out of the EU
without a deal at all, then we will see flights
grounded, despite what Chris was trying to say this week.
We will see flights grounded, lorries backed up at ports,
food prices rising, and we will face the very real prospect of a hard
border with Northern Ireland.
There is no question that no deal would be worse,
the worst possible deal of all.
And increasingly now I think the Cabinet is divided
into two groups of people, the realists, who understand this,
and the fantasists who believe that no deal is a realistic prospect.
The truth is there is no serious, credible Cabinet minister
who currently believes that no deal is an option.
And this week we had the prospect of the Brexit Secretary standing
at the dispatch box in the House of Commons saying,
"No deal is a negotiating tactic".
The trouble is, they can hear him over in Brussels.
They know that we are bluffing.
And it's time we stopped messing around, grandstanding and bluffing,
and got serious about how we are going to get the best
deal out of the EU, so that we can move this country
and this economy forward.
Chris Evans' question, Chris Grayling, is do you think no
deal in Europe is ready such a bad thing?
I am someone who believes in free trade, so I think a free-trade
agreement with the European Union would be a good thing for us
and for the European Union.
Therefore, my colleagues and I will work very
hard to achieve that.
What we will not do is to adopt the Labour policy
which is to say deal at any cost.
What happens if they say give us 100 billion euros or no deal?
That's not our policy.
That's nonsense, Chris.
That's absolute nonsense.
And you know it's nonsense.
So we are going to work hard to deliver a sensible deal.
We're going to work hard to have a proper, neighbourly,
friendly relationship with the European Union.
But we're also going to prepare, so we are ready
if that doesn't happen.
So you would walk away in certain circumstances?
Theresa May was very clear in saying no deal is better than a bad deal.
We will work hard to prepare the way for a good deal
with the European Union.
But you would all expect us to also prepare for the eventuality
that there is none.
And we will do both.
I don't expect that to happen.
I don't want it to happen, but we will make sure we're
ready for it if it does.
And we'll all be growing more vegetables.
What we certainly won't have is planes sitting on the ground.
The planes will carry on flying.
The idea that Spain would stop the planes landing
in the summer of 2019...
You need an agreement to do it, Chris.
And leave all their hotels empty, that is just for the birds.
If it's for the birds, why did the Chancellor
of the Exchequer reveal it as a possibility?
He didn't but he actually said, I'm not going to spend lots of money
on it because it's not going to happen.
It is theoretically conceivable that in a no-deal scenario, there
would be no air traffic moving.
Why did the Home Secretary say it would be unthinkable,
no deal would be unthinkable?
Our goal is to secure a deal with the European Union
that's good for all of us.
That's our goal, we are not going to admit defeat,
we are not going to say we are going to fail.
She said it would be unthinkable...
Wasting your energy.
Work together so that we can get out of the EU!
Why can't you work together?
Why are you wasting so much time fighting with each other?
OK, I'll come to you later on.
It's a very good question.
I'm having flashbacks to the universal credit thing.
We seem to have a problem with roll outs don't we, a real problem.
It's quite a big roll out.
I think there's a big problem with universal credit,
a big problem with e borders and IT products in the BBC and the NHS,
a huge one with HMRC and changes to freelance status for employees,
moving them to employed status.
The biggest one of all of course is Brexit.
My impression is sometimes that we are approaching a very
uncertain cliff edge actually.
If it is a cliff edge, I want to abseil down,
I don't want to jump down the cliff, and I want to see a plan.
You will still get to the bottom pretty fast.
I want to get to the bottom without splatting.
That would be preferred.
That's what we are aiming to give you.
I would like to see a little bit more detail about this.
The question is, would no deal be a bad thing?
Do you think no deal would be a disaster?
I think I was Amber Rudd on that one and I'm not very often
with Amber Rudd on anything but it seems inconceiveable to me.
I want to Abseil.
The problem with the WTO rules which is what Chris said was the way
out if we have no deal, is that immediately we are legally
required to slap tariffs on anything coming from the EU and vice versa.
Well, 40% for lamb and beef and the Welsh Farmers' Union.
We are absolutely legally obliged.
Cars 10%, clothes 12%, 20% for beers and spirits,
and that's a problem.
It's certainly a problem for both countries in the EU exporting to us
but it's a major problem for us, particularly in places
like Northern Ireland with the hard soft border and 90% of goods
But the Brexiteer beside you disagrees with all this...
It's not true that we have to have those.
We have to have the same tariffs on everyone but that doesn't
mean it has to be 40%.
We may change and say actually we are going to have 0 tariffs
on all foods from all countries.
What we can't do is say Europe, if we don't have a special agreement
we can't have special arrangements for Europe.
But it's absolutely wrong to say we have for tariffs at any level.
They can set their own tariffs.
The problem is, we have to set the tariffs absolutely identically
across the world which means we also have to undo the deals
that the Government are doing, beginning to talk about
with other countries.
There's one deal for everything.
You can't pick and choose once you do these rules.
I'm sorry it's complicated but you will agree with that.
But that doesn't mean we have to have high tariffs.
A lot of people voted for Brexit because we can actually become more
of a free-trading nation, we don't have to have these tariffs.
A member of the audience?
You, Sir, on the fourth row with black hair and a jacket on?
I just don't really think many people in the Labour Party
or the Liberal Democrats understand the basics of negotiation.
If you go into the negotiation saying you are not prepared for no
deal, you are just signing up for a bad deal.
No you're not.
No you're not.
No you're not because we know...
If you shout out, we can't hear you properly because we
haven't got microphones.
People in here can hear you but millions of people
listening to you can't hear, which would be a pity,
I'm sure you would agree with that, so wait until we get
a microphone to you.
It's not an open invitation for the EU to tell us what the deal
is, it's the start of getting real about the fact that a no-deal
would be catastrophic for the EU and it would be catastrophic
for us as well.
The reason why it's a completely ineffective negotiating tactic
is because the Government has admitted that it's only that,
it's a negotiating tactic.
The Home Secretary's come out and said, it's
unthinkable to have no deal.
That is one bit of it though isn't it?
The Prime Minister's rowed back on the rhetoric.
She's a Remainer, she was always going to think think a no deal
wasth was no option.
a no deal was no option.
The fact is the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister are quite
clearly in my view waking up to the fact that no deal
would be an absolute disaster for this country.
The Brexit secretary's admitted that it is a negotiating tactic.
This is not an effective way to negotiate.
I don't agree.
Simon, the question was, is no deal really such a bad thing?
No deal is definitely worse than having a deal.
As Chris said, a lot of us have voted for Brexit and free trade
and if we don't have free trade with Europe, then that would be
bad for the economy.
To say that it would be a catastrophe is wrong.
I think that's dangerous and it's an exaggeration.
It's very important, in a negotiation, that
people keep a level head.
In my experience of negotiating, there are two golden rules.
One is, you are going to have days where it just looks
like the deal is impossible.
You are going to go to bed and think now there is no way
this is going to happen.
Everyone sleeps on it, they think about it and they are testing each
other's positions and you go back the next day and sure
enough the deal recedes.
I think we have got to be very careful not to have national
meltdown every time we hit an impasse because it's going
to happen, people will sleep on it.
We are not making progress...
Are you confident in the way negotiations have been
handled by the Government?
I think it's very difficult to judge from outside and I think actually
trying to negotiate in public, that makes it harder for both
sides to compromise.
So I think we have got to be careful about making judgments
about conversations that are happening that
we are not party to.
What about the things that are said publicly?
You are a Conservative.
When you look at the way that the Cabinet says different
things, Lisa was referring to, does that disconcert you?
Is that reasonable?
Actually, you know what, having a debate between optimistic
and enthusiastic Boris Johnson and a cautious and Conservative
Philip Hammond, having that debate in public is not a bad thing
and finding the middle ground between them is actually a very
sensible way to proceed.
The idea that we all have to, as a nation, have one idea and not
have any differences means that we won't get the best deal,
we have got to talk about these things.
If we don't have a credible plan to walk away with, then we are not
going into a negotiation, we are going into ask
the price and we can only bluff, plead and beg.
We have to have a plan.
We don't have one.
For a no-deal scenario because if we don't,
we are not going to get the best deal.
The person at the very back there?
You, at the back in blue?
Mr Grayling, if you genuinely have a Plan B for how things
would work under WTO rules, why don't you publish it and show
the EU that you are serious and convince us that
you have the detail?
Well, the answer to that is that we are actively
working on that plan.
I'm doing so in my own area.
We'll bring forward details when we need to, but we are not
approaching this on the basis that we are going
to need to do that.
Right now, we are working to try and secure the best deal for Britain.
Yes, of course we are making contingency plans and we'll be very
clear, I'm looking at the whole issue of transportation on ports
to make sure we are ready for that.
I'm an optimist, I expect us to do a deal, I expect this to be
something that works for both sides.
We are the European Union's biggest export market,
it would be hugely damaging to businesses in France,
Germany Belgium and the Netherlands if there wasn't a free trade deal
and that's why I'm absolutely certain there would be.
You would expect us to do the work we are doing now and we'll be
talking about it in due course, to make sure there is
an alternative route in the unlikely event we'll have
to take it.
The woman there?
From what I'm seeing, outside look in, it looks
like the Tories can't even manage their own party,
so how can we possibly trust you to take us into Brexit
with a good deal?
So I think Simon's point is right, we are not a group of clones sitting
around the Cabinet table, we have Discussions, debates,
differences of opinion, we reach a common position,
Theresa May's speech in Florence a couple of weeks ago
was very much a result, a United Cabinet discussion,
she spoke for all of us and she's set out the path we are taking.
Chris, how much time have we got?
One thing that concerns me, we are talking about very detailed
work and we don't have much time to do it.
I was talking to an official the to other day who's been seconded
to the Department for Brexit and she was saying the issue
they are finding is they have ten years' work to do in less
than two years.
And that the kind of things you are talking about sound
like luxuries if you are working to a time scale that's
All I can say, within the Department of Transport, we are not trying
to do ten years' work in two years, what we are working to do
is perfectly achievable, I hope...
The man in the brown jacket?
Yes, the speaker on the front row just said she can't trust
the Conservative Party.
I can't trust Lisa and the Labour and Baroness Brinton
in the Liberal Democrats because all they want to do
is connive a situation to create a second referendum.
What you've got to do is...
What you've got to do is what the people have already said.
1.4 million people want the leave the EU, that's what we have got
to get on with and do.
Do you think it's straight forward or do you think it's a difficult
task the Government faces?
Of course it's difficult.
It's a very complicated issue but you can only
negotiate with people if they want to negotiate.
How long do we have to give the EU?
How long do we have to give Mr Juncker to start saying
things that are reasonable?
All I can see is unreasonable comments from the EU,er in not
taking us seriously, if I was the PM, I would give
them a weeks' notice and I would leave the following day.
One more point then we must go on.
The woman in pink?
Ever since the no-deal...
Sorry, we are getting very confused in this studio,
it's too difficult to see people.
The woman up there?
We've had our vote, we've had the referendum,
I don't believe we should have a second referendum,
I think the Labour and the Liberal
Party are pushing and some, dare I say Conservatives,
are pushing for a second referendum.
Let's get on with it, let's get behind it, it's a very,
very difficult thing, probably one of the most
difficult things we've asked a Government to do,
but it could be very exciting.
I believe it could be very exciting for this country and I'm appealing
to the Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
I'm actually a Liberal Democrat at heart and I'm appealing
to you to get behind the Government to work together, to work together
for the good of this country, not to keep bickering.
All right, we have heard your point, madam - stop bickering.
Lisa, just answer that?
I just want to say to you, that if we were trying
to have a second referendum or somehow stop from leaving
the European Union, then we wouldn't have voted to trigger Article 50.
I voted to trigger Article 50 despite the fact that I went out
and campaigned for Remain.
We lost the referendum and now, our job, in my view,
is to get the best deal for this country.
But I will not apologise for saying to people like Chris that still now,
after six months after triggering Article 50 with a clock ticking,
we should not be messing around saying we have got this great
negotiating position, no deal, it's not going to happen,
but don't worry because Brussels hasn't worked it out,
it's just not good enough, we need to get serious.
I can't bring you all in, I'm really sorry, we have this
debate week after week after week where we go around the country
and hear what people think with different views
as the negotiations go on and we'll no doubt come back to it.
But, I want to keep a variety of questions in Question Time.
We have got a question from Linda Forbes that
I would like to take, please?
As an obese taxpayer, should I be less deserving of NHS
treatment than people who take other risks with their health?
A very, very interesting question.
This is in the light of an NHS statement,
an authority just near here, that not only if you
were technically obese but if you were a smoker,
you could be breathalysed to see if you'd stopped smoking before
you got medical treatment.
Richard Coles, what do you make of that?
When I had a medical for Strictly, I discovered I was 0.4 short
of obese myself which came as rather a shock.
I'm happy to say my paso doble saw me lose a stone,
probably through fear more than anything else.
I don't think the NHS should be rolling that one out.
I'm horrified at the thought that people who are classified as obese
might have to be further back in the queue for NHS provision.
I understand of course that provision's always got to be,
you know, they are not limitless.
But I do think it's fundamentally important, it's a fundamental
principle of the NHS and a fundamental principle
of living in a civilised society that we all have an amiable state
as it comes simply from being human beings and that there is no priority
so I would hate to see health care meeted out in that kind of way.
so I would hate to see health care meted out in that kind of way.
Linda Forbes, have you had direct experience of being warned
about this in terms of operations or any medical treatment?
No, but I have lost over six stone in the last year...
Question Time is not a slimmers club.
But we want to know the secret!
I've worked with other people through NHS health unlocked
and realised just how difficult it is to lose weight
and actually for some people who're very overweight,
getting access to operations that will enable them to exercise again
is being restricted which actually ties them into even more ill health.
OK, Sal Brinton?
Well, I think that's the absolute conundrum.
If help was offered at the start, and there was a sort of a line
and you could see very clearly, but I know from other people
who have been told either they've got to stop smoking or they've got
to lose weight before they can even go on to the waiting list,
it really doesn't help and can cause some very serious problems.
Is it moral to do that?
No, I don't believe it is, I think Richard was right.
The NHS is there for everyone.
We pay our taxes.
It's part of the safety net of our society.
It's the one thing that the vast majority of people in this country
feel we should stick with.
I know the Americans don't understand it and often complain
on our behalf about our NHS, but at the end of the
day it's wonderful.
Part of its problem at the moment and one of my worries about some
of these rules that seem to be being created are that the NHS
is really struggling for cash.
So IVF is often being removed, and I know in my hometown of Watford
we have just had a major fight trying to keep a respite centre
for the most severely disabled and ill children open,
because there just aren't the funds to do it.
And my real worry would be, I accept the health principle,
but if it then becomes a delaying tactic to be used to not go
ahead with operations, that's worrying.
We must fund the NHS properly.
This is about particular candidates for treatment.
Chris Grayling, what do you think?
I struggle with the idea that somebody would be denied
treatment, I really do.
To say to somebody who smoked, or somebody who is obese,
"You may not have treatment", I really struggle with that idea.
I think perhaps the only circumstance in which it becomes
more of an issue is if somebody is systematically refusing to do
something the doctors again and again are advising them to do.
But to say to someone who walks through the door,
"Because you smoked, you may not have an operation,
"because you are obese, you may not
have an operation..."
Of course, the challenge that the health service faces
is that demand on it is growing all the time.
We have an ageing population, more and more people seeking treatment,
the number of people going into A departments every year
is rising up and up and up.
But that should not be a reason for us to deny people treatment.
The National Health Service is a national health service.
Is the NHS in Hertfordshire, for instance, which is doing this,
entitled, legally, to say what they've said?
Well, actually the NHS in reality has always operated
to a degree at a local level.
Decisions are taken locally, decisions are taken
by clinicians locally.
And that's probably for the best because circumstances do vary
in different parts of the country.
So even though you don't like it, you can't, as a government,
have any control over it?
We can't step in.
I would hope those people...
The local decisions about commissioning services are now
taken by organisations that are led by clinicians.
I would still hope those people would take a step back and not
actually say to somebody, "You won't get treatment".
I will come to you there, the woman with spectacles,
and then you over there.
Me, thank you.
Chris Grayling, to say that you struggle with somebody
being turned away from the health service, and these are local
decisions to be made, Hertfordshire CCG, which is the one
you are referring to, where I live in Hertfordshire,
are faced with having to make more and more cuts.
So if you are asking them to make ?55 million more of cuts
than they already have, then you are responsible,
not the local clinicians.
You are responsible, as the government, for asking them
to make cuts, and for turning people away for basic treatment now.
But what do you say to the argument that they are entitled to ration,
in effect, their health care, on the grounds of
obesity and smoking?
That's the issue that is raised.
I think I agree with Reverend Richard Coles,
the health service is the jewel of the crown of this country.
It's something that everybody should be proud of and should
have equal access to.
The trouble with the society we are living in at the moment,
it's becoming more and more unequal.
And this is a prime example of that inequality.
It's actually a really difficult question,
to what extent are we responsible for our own health?
I was thinking about the answer to this as everyone was talking.
What I thought, I put myself in the position of the person
who would have to tell someone that "Actually, I'm really sorry,
"you can't have this treatment because you are overweight".
I thought, "Would I ever want to be in that situation"?
And not in a million years.
Should we put other people in that situation?
Of course we shouldn't.
The man with spectacles, and then I will come to you, Lisa.
We often talk in terms of substance abuse,
for example like heroin abuse, and addiction, that people
are victims of their own addiction.
And it could be said similarly that smokers are victims
of their own addiction.
And it's only a small step, then, to say that people
who are overweight are victims of their own addiction to food.
But surely it comes down to a certain extent to personal
responsibility, and people surely have to be seen in some ways to be
helping themselves to help the NHS to help them.
The woman in pink.
I think it's discrimination.
How can you deny one person one thing in one area and another person
of an equal situation be allowed that same treatment in another area?
But also its double standards.
You're denying somebody treatment for consuming food, or cigarettes
that they are paying taxes on.
It doesn't make any sense to me.
Actually, I agree with what Simon said.
There are a group of people in this country who do face restrictions
on their health care, and that's asylum seekers.
And actually, as well as being very immoral, in my view,
and creating some absolutely terrible results, the impact
of those regulations has been to really damage the relationship
between doctor and patient.
Because if you are the person who is rationing health care,
you cannot then claim to be the person who first does no harm,
and who is primarily responsible for their care.
Before I came into Parliament, I used to work with
homeless young people.
And I absolutely agree with the sentiment that we all
have a responsibility to take personal responsibility
for our own health care and for keeping ourselves well
and fit and healthy.
But many of those young people would end up with drug
and alcohol problems that they were then treated for.
And it would then become very, very apparent that the drug
and alcohol abuse was simply a way of self-medicating because of
underlying mental health problems that hadn't
been previously diagnosed.
And so my worry is that if we even begin to start discussing taking
this approach more generally in the National Health Service,
we will go down a very, very slippery slope that will stop
people getting the help that they need when they need it.
Also, we all have our addictions, don't we?
There are the obvious ones there, but we are all addicted
to driving our cars, aren't we, with the consequences
for health and emissions, and also through people getting
into accidents, something the health service picks up
without question, but we needn't do that.
The man at the back, and then last questions.
There is lots of talk about the morality of
rationing health care, but what about the morality
of taking money out of people's pockets to pay for other people's
poor lifestyle choices that are completely their choice?
Since you have a hand up, I will come to you,
sir, in the front row.
As the cigarettes and obesity, why don't the government ban
cigarettes and try to close up fast food stores so that people
don't have the things that make them obese?
OK, well, there is a prescription.
Is it because of the taxes they get off the cigarettes?
Is it because you get too much tax off cigarettes?
Banning things is a big step.
Banning fast food, I think, would be pretty unpopular
in an awful lot of places in this country, actually.
We've got four or five minutes left.
This question from Patricia Broderick, please.
Are schools overstepping the mark when they send home alarm
clocks with their pupils?
A mysterious question maybe to some of you.
It is just one school, it has to be said, but it
does go to the heart of a particular problem.
A school in Twickenham, London, which decided
to give alarm clocks to its children, allegedly so.
It says instead of using their iPhones to wake
them up in the morning, they have a proper alarm clock
and turn their iPhones off.
And it goes to the heart of this whole business about children,
young people and middle-aged people, and no doubt people around this
table, being addicted to the iPhone.
Richard Coles, are you addicted to your iPhone?
Do you use an alarm clock in the morning?
Maybe you should, if you don't.
Well, I rise with the lark anyway, with a song in my heart!
I would hesitate to say I am addicted to my mobile,
but I do have a very active life on social media, which I have
mixed feelings about.
Partly, I think, I was in a restaurant the other day
and there were two people sitting on the next table who were having
dinner together but spent the whole time on their phones,
which seemed to me to be not the ideal way to
treat your dinner date.
But on the other hand, it is a place where people meet.
One of the things I love about social media, it's a place
where you really can encounter a whole broad range of people,
and some of those encounters are glancing and brief,
but can be extremely rewarding and lead onto other
sorts of exciting things.
And also, if you want to get a kid off an iPhone or an iPad
or whatever it may be, good luck with that.
I'm a school governor and it's a perpetual question that
comes up on our agenda.
It's an extremely difficult thing to do.
Have you thought about issuing alarm clocks to your children at school?
No, I haven't, actually.
Put it on the agenda.
Funnily enough, I, for religious reasons, I turn my phone off
on Friday night at sundown and I keep it off until
And I've got to say, that is an incredibly
liberating thing to do.
So I don't know whether schools...
This is for religious reasons?
Yes, it's the Jewish sabbath.
So it's a very liberating thing to do, and what you realise is that
actually it's not a life-support machine and you can live for 24
hours without your phone.
And I think every so often people should...
Somebody is saying they can't.
I would recommend trying it.
One weekend, turn your phone off for 24 hours and see what happens.
You'll have a much nicer weekend.
Lisa Nandy, do you see this as a real, serious problem...
Serious problem with...?
With young people?
I was going to say, good luck with getting
politicians off their iPhones.
Maybe if we turned them off for 24 hours we might get together
and solve the problems with Brexit.
I think that there is a danger in this debate that
for all of the many, well versed reasons why it is a good
idea to make sure that young people are out in the real world
and meeting people who think differently from them, and are not
in the bubble of social media, where we tend to seek out people
who have the same opinions as us that are self-reinforcing.
All of those things are well rehearsed and I think they are true,
but we shouldn't forget as well that technology has been
an enormous force for good for children and young people.
The charity ChildLine says that one of the reasons that they have seen
a rise in the number of young people coming to them for help about child
abuse is because when I was growing up you had to pick up a phone,
probably had to find a phone box and ring them.
Now, young people can e-mail, they can contact through Facebook,
they can contact through WhatsApp.
There are so many ways for them to do it that actually for those
young people who need a lifeline, they have found that having
an iPhone, or access to technology has been it.
So I think we should be really, really careful here not to say
that it is just a force for bad, because for many of those
young people it has been an absolute lifeline.
Very briefly, you, sir, on the right.
The man on the gangway.
With technology, it's become an integral part of our lives,
especially as young people.
I'm only 17.
But it's becoming a societal thing, like the invention of the Guttenberg
press and the popularisation of the book, it's helping us
to spread ideas, become more connected with the wider world,
which is what we need in these trying times.
Technological addiction is a very common thing.
In the 1700s there was mass book reading and book
reading was a social thing, and we all move past it
with the next invention.
It's a natural re-occurring cycle within human nature and history.
OK, thank you very much.
Chris Grayling, briefly, if you would, because we need
an alarm clock because we're running out of time.
I suspect in a lot of cases that neither an alarm clock nor a mobile
phone would wake up many a teenager.
But the reality is social media and mobile phones
are a force for good.
They can also be a force for bad.
There are some real issues in social media that I think
as a society we have to address.
And therefore the key is to make sure that families discuss amongst
themselves about how young people use their mobile phones
and when they use them.
And that's the most important thing.
I am co-chair of the all-party group on bullying, and cyber-bullying,
late at night on iPhones in bedrooms, is a real problem.
OK, thank you very much indeed.
Our hour is up.
Next Thursday we are going to be in Portsmouth.
We've got Jacob Rees-Mogg, Shami Chakrabarti, Alex Salmond
among those on the panel.
The week after that, Kilmarnock.
The journalist Owen Jones, Kezia Dugdale, who used
to lead Scottish Labour is on the panel there.
If you'd like to come to either Portsmouth or Kilmarnock...
Here, in Dunstable, my thanks to our panellists,
and to all of you who came to take part in this programme.
I hope you enjoyed it.
And for you at home, see you again next Thursday.
David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Dunstable in Bedfordshire. On the panel are Conservative transport secretary Chris Grayling, Labour MP Lisa Nandy, president of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton, the chief executive of Next Simon Wolfson, and the Church of England priest - and Strictly Come Dancing contestant - Richard Coles.