David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Croydon. On the panel are Justine Greening, Stella Creasy, Kirstie Allsopp, Aditya Chakrabortty and Charles Moore.
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Tonight we're in Croydon
and welcome to Question Time.
With us here...
The Secretary of State
for Education, Justine Greening,
who's also a Minister
for Women and Equality.
One of the MPs leading the fight
to reform the culture
at Westminster, Labour's Stella
The star of television's Location,
Location, Location the property
expert, Kirstie Allsopp.
The Guardian writer on economics,
who this week dished up the details
on how the rich use tax
havens to get richer.
And claiming this is largely
resented because the rich can do it
and the rest of us can't,
the columnist of the Daily Telegraph
and the Spectator, Charles Moore.
And just a reminder -
thank you very much -
a reminder at home,
if you want to get involved
in the argument, you can argue along
using our #bbcqt either Facebook
or Twitter or you can text us 83981,
push the Red Button to see
what others are saying.
Now our first question tonight
is from Gemma Collins, please.
In light of recent events,
can Theresa May still call her
government strong and stable?
Can Theresa May still call her
government strong and stable?
But this is the terribly sad thing,
isn't it, because actually this
is our country and this chaos
is affecting all of our lives.
It's not just about the lack of grip
over where the direction
of the country is going,
it's all the every day issues that
aren't being dealt with.
Whether it is the rising
inequality in our society.
Whether it is the issues
in our schools, in terms
of their funding - I'm sure Justine
would have a word on that.
I talk to teachers
who are now paying for
supplies in their schools.
I talk to police officers in London
desperately worried about the fact
we're losing 3,000 officers
from our streets.
These are all big challenges
that we have to deal
with and instead what's happening
is the backbenches of
the Conservative Party are defining
all of our shared futures.
So people may laugh, but I am
desperately worried about this.
Let be very, very clear about this
because if Theresa May wants
to accept what we all know
is inevitable and that she needs
to throw-in the towel,
there's certainly many of us
certainly who would like to step up,
called Labour, to run this country
instead and fight for the future
of this country.
She should throw in the towel,
I totally disagree.
I think the bottom line is that
we're a government that is steering
this country through a very
difficult Brexit negotiation,
but alongside that we have
a domestic agenda that is also
shifting our country
in the right direction.
You mentioned education, Stella,
well there are now 1.8 million more
children in good or outstanding
schools, including some here
in Croydon, than there were in 2010.
When you look at people's take home
pay, we've taken millions of people
out of paying tax altogether
and raised the personal allowance
for around 30 million people.
We've got more people in work
than we've had for many years
and an unemployment rate that's
about half the Eurozone average.
What I'm saying is that people
are in jobs and in work.
The economy's doing well.
I'm also saying that when we look
ahead to the future,
we're making sure that our young
people are coming through
the education system
with the educational skills
that they need...
All right, OK.
Let me just...
Hang on, hang on both of you.
Let me just ask Gemma Collins
what she meant by the question.
I mean, like, with regards
to her not even to have a stable
Cabinet together and people leaving,
They're arguing with each
other and not focussing
on what's actually happening?
When Justine Greening gives
you a list of statistics
about things, does that
not convince you?
Not really, no.
Not really, OK.
When in the news something's
happening every single week,
every day, another problem.
It's all noise just to cover it up.
Justine, I'll come back to you.
I think the point you made, Gemma,
about the news is very interesting.
We're living in a very different
news environment than we've
ever lived in before.
When I came on Question Time
for the first time, eight years ago,
Twitter didn't exist.
The social media world
in which we exist today does give us
a sense of being destabilised.
Things seem to be happening every
day that we can't keep up with.
What, like two Cabinet ministers
resigning in a week?
Point taken, David.
There are two totally
different issues here.
One Cabinet Minister
resigned for one reason
and another for another reason.
And they are...
I don't think they relate either
of them to Theresa May's
They are two separate issues,
which we could discuss further.
OK, Charles Moore.
No, I think they do both relate
to Theresa May's government
because President LB Johnson said
that the first skill a politician
has to have is arithmetic.
What he meant by that was,
you have to add up what votes you've
got and see whether you can win.
Of course because the Tories did
much less well than expected
in the election, they haven't got
strong and stable government
and they can't because
the arithmetic doesn't work,
it's very knife edge.
However, I think Mrs May is making
a mistake about how to deal
with that because I think
what you have to do, to your own
team and to the country,
is you have to sort of be upfront
about that and say how
difficult your position
is and concentrate on the things
that really matter and be
strong about them.
And say - look, this
is what I believe in and this
is what I'm going to do.
What I feel that's not happening,
particularly about Brexit,
so we don't actually know what way
we're actually going about it.
And I think that what you see
with the Government -
and this comes from the top
downwards, you can't blame the lower
people for this really -
is you see it's governed by fear.
So what it's always thinking is -
help, we're going to get into more
trouble if we do this,
so we'd better do that
or we'd better not do this.
So actually what's going
on is it's room for manoeuvre
is narrowing all the time.
I really do think that's a very
unfortunate position to be in.
Aditya, I'll come to you.
Justine Greening, do you jsut
want to answer Charles Moore's point
as a fellow Conservative?
Well, we are a minority Government,
but I think in practice most
of what we deliver on a day-to-day
basis is on legislation that's
already been passed.
So, Gemma, I know I gave
lots of statistics, but actually
it's because I wanted to give
you some actual facts of what we're
achieving because I recognise
sometimes, when we make our
arguments, it's hard to frankly pull
out what's really going on.
So these are the facts
of what we're doing on the ground
and I absolutely, yes,
you won't see many of them
in the paper because they're good
news, but what I'm saying,
Charles is, what we see day-to-day
is a government that is getting
on with some substantial reform.
If you look at what we're
doing in education,
on introducing T-levels,
so that for the first time young
people post-16 actually have some
proper choices between not just
an academic route,
but a technical education route.
Those things are actually
happening on the ground
and we're getting with that.
They will make a profound
improvement to the opportunities
for our young people
in the years to come.
But the whole is so much weaker...
It's weaker than the sum of
the parts, if you see what I mean.
The question is you always
want to know of a government is -
where are you leading our country?
It's particularly true when we're
about to make a massive change
in the whole composition,
constitution of our country.
We need to know now.
We need to know really in the next
three or four weeks.
What are we going to do to achieve
the Brexit we voted for?
You, sir, I'll come
to you in a moment.
The PM has failed
to lead the country.
She had one job to prove herself,
and that was to fire Priti Patel
and then Priti Patel had to resign.
Now we have a government where it's
led by a person who cannot even fire
someone who has broken
the Ministerial Code,
but at least there's still a chance
for her to redeem herself by firing
But if that doesn't happen,
trust me, she has until Christmas
and the Government will fall.
She has to redeem herself.
We'll maybe come to
that in more detail.
Aditya though, on the main first
point about whether the Government
is strong and stable?
Well, the straight answer
to that is, obviously,
it's not strong and stable,
it's weak and increasingly wobbly.
To lose two Cabinet ministers
in a week, goodness me,
I wonder what the next couple
of weeks will bring!
But the one bit of your question
that I would take issue with, Gemma,
is when you say "in light
of recent events."
Because what I see going
on with this government
is a culmination of seven years
of doing the wrong thing
over and over again.
So they've said that they
will fix the economy.
Actually, they've tanked it so badly
that we're going for the biggest
squeeze on our living standards
since the Napoleonic Wars.
Theresa May says she's
there for the just about managing
and she takes money off the poor
and she sends disabled
people to their deaths.
They say that they're
about business -
People go to fitness
for work assessments,
they're told they're fit for work,
they lose their money and then
they end up seriously ill.
That happens over and over again.
If I can finish...
The other thing that they've said
is that they're pro-business,
they're pro-competition and then
they take us into a referendum,
which they bungle, they don't get
the result they want and so we end
up heading towards Brexit,
and they can't even manage Brexit.
Don't shout out, wait,
stick your hand up and make your
point, if you want to.
Yes, you sir, go on.
We voted for Brexit and Theresa May
is fulfilling that pledge.
Now you use inflammatory language,
you're like the Donald
Trump of the Guardian.
You use inflammatory language saying
that people, disabled people...
You basically accuse the people
that vote Conservative
and Conservative representatives,
such as myself, as sending
people to their deaths
because they're disabled.
Sir, I can actually introduce
you to some of the people
who are disabled activists -
We can all introduce
people to each other.
Who can tell you about their friends
But you use language
like Donald Trump.
It's inflammatory rubbish.
I don't bear very little
resemblance to Donald Trump.
OK, Stella Creasy.
This is the problem
though, isn't it?
People are now very angry,
they're very scared because I'm
in an unusual position
to agree with Charles Moore.
Nobody knows the future
direction of this country
and whether it is to do with Brexit
and 18-months on literally
having no idea.
The Prime Minister promised us
certainty, we don't have that.
Or it's the simple...
You talk about facts, Justine,
most people here will recognise
there is too much month at the end
of their money.
That actually we are now a country
that is more indebted than ever.
Who here manages to pay
off their credit card every month?
Hang on, hang on,
you would have us...
Who here actually recognises
the cost of living is going up
and up and up and is worried
about what is going to happen
next and you're looking
at a government saying, lead us.
Instead, you're seeing rogue
minister after minister,
story after story.
I understand where you're
coming from, Gemma.
I think what we have to do
though is ask for action
because it cannot continue
like this, it's just too dangerous.
Hang on a second, let's hear
from more members of the audience
and then I'll come to Justine.
The person in the third
row there, you.
I just wanted to pick up on Charles'
point about arithmetic
in the last election.
The Conservatives didn't win as many
seats as they would have liked to,
but Labour also didn't win the last
election, so I think hasn't the time
come for some proper cross-party
coalition support because we're
headed towards a national disaster?
OK, the man over here.
You, sir, with the glasses, yes.
Stella, I must take issue
with you about your comment
about you can't wait
to get into power.
The Labour Party are not in power.
They can say anything,
promise anything, spend billions
and they're not accountable.
But fortunately in Croydon Labour
are in power and the Labour Council
run the Children Services
department, which has just received
the most damning Ofsted report ever
where it has failed on virtually
every single measurement and count.
It is now in special measures
and is being overseen
by a Government-appointed inspector
because you can't be trusted
in power to actually do the job.
All right, let Stella answer that
and then I'll go to somebody else.
I understand your concern, sir.
I think it's a slightly different
picture on the ground,
but what I would say is that
investment in local government has
been stripped to the bone,
as has everything else.
None of that precludes
the importance of running services.
You asked for accountability,
you asked for ideas,
I want to take up your challenge.
I know Jeremy Corbyn wants
to take up your challenge.
When we see this country heading
in such a wrong direction,
what we ask is the opportunity
to serve because what's very clear,
over the last couple of weeks,
is that Theresa May just isn't up
to the job and it's
horrible to watch.
It doesn't give any of us any
pleasure because we see some
of the biggest choices...
The lady over there
wants cross-party work.
Actually, I happen to think that
Brexit is bigger than any
one political party,
so you're right.
It's very noticeable there are 13
amendments next week that have
cross-party support that are bigger
than the Government's majority.
That tells you something
about that big choice,
but what we want is the opportunity
to prove that we have ideas
we can put into action.
What I'm telling you is that we're
ready to take up that challenge and,
God knows, I think this
country needs it.
All right, thank you.
No, hold on.
You in the front raised
a point which I'd like,
we've got a question on it,
I'll just take that.
Neil Woodley, your question, please.
Why hasn't Theresa May
sacked Boris Johnson?
All right, it was
the question he put.
Why hasn't Theresa May
sacked Boris Johnson?
I don't know whether the Iranian
Ambassador watches Question Time,
I wouldn't want to take any risks,
and I mean that very seriously.
I have followed this case
since the very beginning.
The plight of Richard,
Nazanin and their little girl
Gabriella haunts me.
That little girl, who can't come
home to the UK because all that
keeps her mother sane is her visits,
and a father who hasn't
hugged his own daughter in 18-months
because he can't go to Iran.
The fact that Boris Johnson has not
seen him, given him 10 minutes
of his time in the last 18-months
is, frankly, disgraceful
and I'm really sorry...
All right, maybe Charles Moore.
In the last answer to the previous
question which I think
is important in all of this,
about the rush that happens
in things in the age of Twitter.
Clearly Boris Johnson
made a mistake.
But I would ask people
to think about who is really
at the bottom of all of this,
who is really to blame in this.
The answer is the
It's Iran that is behaving
to Mrs Radcliffe, it's Iran that's
locking her up for no good reason.
I think Boris Johnson was very
remiss not to get his
facts right in this.
But somehow this is all the fault
of Boris seems to be a classic
example of how we in this country
are very parochial and sort
of focus in on the latest
piece of Twitter storm.
What is the real picture here?
Sorry, Charles, sorry to interrupt
you but it's not a Twitter storm
when the Foreign Secretary goes
before a House of Commons committee
and says, when I look at this case
and what she was doing,
she was simply teaching people
journalism as I understand it,
which is the exact issue that she's
in prison for.
Sorry, Boris was wrong.
I'm not defending him.
You said it's a Twitter storm.
The Twitter storm is about trying
to get him out, of course he's wrong
and should be criticised
but we don't want the British
Foreign Secretary falling
for what is basically fundamentally
the fault of Iran of extremely evil
power who is oppressing
all of its people and imprisoning
a British citizen
for no good reason.
Stella Creasy, is that why
he's not been sacked?
I'll tell you what worries
me about it, Charles,
because most of us never deal
with the Foreign Office,
but if you got into trouble
overseas, if there was something
that you, as a British citizen
needed our help with,
it's the Foreign Office,
it's the consulate that
you would go to for help.
So the person responsible
for the very assistance supposed
to be given to British citizens
abroad is the one whose
actions have essentially
condemned her to another five
years in jail.
The woman there?
We don't know that that's happened.
We absolutely do.
All we know is they've used
propaganda against Britain
which they call the little satan.
There are videos of Boris Johnson's
words, they are saying he speaks
the truth about Nazanin.
He has to take responsibility
for that because how can British
citizens abroad be confident
in a Foreign Office
run by Boris Johnson?
The woman there?
He's not doing his job properly.
He's given them ammunition
to increase her sentence.
He's made it worse.
He's not doing his job,
he's not doing briefings and it's
looking at us if we go overseas
and get stuck.
We are going to question
whether the Foreign Office can
actually support and help us
in this regard.
I think Boris clearly said something
that simply wasn't correct.
He went to Parliament the next
day to make sure he set
the record straight.
He's spoken to the Iranian Foreign
Minister who's confirmed it had
nothing to do with the subsequent
steps the Iranian government took
and of course, as Charles says,
of course the Iranian press
is going to make hey on this
in the same way that,
had it been a different country,
our press probably would have
made the most of it.
The bottom line is, we now need to,
as Kirstie says, need to focus
on making sure we get
Mrs Haghari-Radcliffe out of that
Iranian jail and back home
as a matter of urgency and that's
what the focus of the
Foreign Office should be.
Man up there on the right?
I think Boris Johnson had a chance
to correct his statement.
He actually said it was actually
taken out of context
and misrepresented so it's not
actually the initial crime.
It's actually the cover-up.
The problem is, you are actually
looking at somebody's
life at stake here.
You cannot have that kind of hubris.
You have to say, I messed up,
I probably got my facts wrong,
she was not there for that reason.
Just come out and say that.
Which he didn't.
I mean, the simple answer
to your question is,
he hasn't got the shame to resign
and she's not strong
enough to sack him.
He couldn't bothered to meet
the family beforehand,
he couldn't be bothered to meet
the family and their MP,
he couldn't be bothered to get
the facts right and he couldn't be
bothered to give a proper apology.
He gave a faux apology and said
"if I've offended..."
blah blah blah.
I mean, the man is an utter joke.
This is meant to be our
diplomat in chief and this
is how he's behaving.
Very brief, Charles?
These things that are being
said are not being said
by Mr Radcliffe himself.
He's saying Boris Johnson's been
misrepresented by the regime
and he said in interview this
morning he thought it was a good
thing that this had at least...
No, no, no.
He's not happy about the situation
but he said it's a good thing it's
raised the saliants of the question.
One of the things the Foreign Office
is always trying to do,
and Boris Johnson shouldn't have
given into his own office like this,
is avoid questions like this.
They hate questions about protecting
British individual citizens
because they always say it
interferes with wider policy
and actually in a funny way,
this has turned out to bring more
goodness, on her case.
It's true that Richard Radcliffe has
said that it will bring it
further up Boris's inbox,
that's what he said.
He also said there is a direct link
between Johnson's comments
and what's happened,
according to today's Times.
Yes, all right, we'll go on.
Before we go on to another
topic though, let me say
where we are going to be next week.
Newcastle next Thursday,
Colchester the Thursday after that.
On the screen there are the details
of how to apply to come to take
part in these debates.
And now I want to take this question
from Tewar Aguiri, please?
Should wealthy individuals be
villainised for legally
making tax savings?
Well we know this is all
about tax havens abroad.
Should wealthy individuals be
villainised for illegally
Should wealthy individuals be
villainised for legally
making tax savings.
Aditya, you've been in the van
of this, what's the answer?
Just to make it clear,
I'm not one of the reporters,
I'm just a columnist as we say,
ten a penny, nowadays.
Two a penny on this programme.
The thing I find shocking
about this set of tax leaks,
which is a the latest in a series
of tax leaks, is how
normalised tax avoidance
is if you are in the super rich.
So nowadays it could be
the Queen's wealth adviser,
you would think nothing
of shunting her cash off
to the Cayman Islands.
I don't think it's about
villainising the particular people.
I don't think you even need to say
the tax avoidance is illegal,
it's not, tax avoidance is perfectly
legal, it's just not legit.
It's breaking the spirit of the law,
it's not necessarily breaking
the letter of the law
and what we have to ask ourselves
is, how've we got to a situation
where the super rich in this country
send 30-40% of their wealth into tax
havens while the rest of us are pay
as you earn and have
to pay our taxes.
So we pay for the roads,
we pay for the food regulation,
we pay for the law and order
and the armies and the rest
of it and the super rich
don't pay their way.
How've we got to that situation
and how do we put that right?
I think that's what the Paradise
Papers that were issued this week,
that's the question it gives
us, it forces.
We are at a point where
we have to make a choice.
Do we want money to go
to our schools, hospitals
and all the rest of it,
or do we want to shovel money
into the pockets of people
who already have plenty?
As the questioner said, if these
were legally made tax savings,
how do you change the practice?
I think the really big problem
is that politics in this country's
often shaped and influenced
by people who don't have the same
stake in the country
as the rest of us do.
So if you look at our newspapers,
the biggest newspapers are owned
by billionaire tax avoiders.
I can mention a particular
newspaper that Charles Moore
writes for whose owners
have their own 80-acre
We also have a Conservative Party
that scraped into Government in 2010
and half the money for its election
campaign was given to it
by financial services which is right
at the centre of this
tax avoidance industry.
Let me go back to Tewar
who asked the question.
What do you make of that answer?
A very fair answer,
a good analysis of it.
But I feel that this
villainisation of the wealthy
individuals and companies,
it's actually the most effective way
so far to get wealthy individuals
to change their habits in some way
because I feel that parties on both
sides are kind of a mixture
of clueless and incompetent when it
comes to tax avoidance issues,
especially aggressive tax avoidance
that we have seen in the recent
issue and recent leaks.
So I think these leaks kind of spur
on the party's interaction
but I don't think they actually
have their heads around how
to tackle it really.
But do you want to see
I'm not sure from your question,
or whether you think
they are wrongly villainised?
To an extent.
I think to the extent that it forces
them to look inwards and look
at their actual habits and how
they are purchasing.
For example, if you look
at Lewis Hamilton where he bought
his jet with an off shore company,
leased it to another company,
who leased it to a leasing company
who then leased it back to himself,
I mean by the time you're triple
leasing a product to yourself,
surely that's morally repugnant
and you should kind
of have a think about it.
The trouble with this story,
it's a huge bundle of all different
things, some of which are acceptable
and some of which are not.
One thing that's often said and has
been said here tonight is that it's
all about tax avoidance.
The matter of the Queen was raised.
She avoided no tax by
this, none whatever.
It was not a tax avoidance scheme.
What happened was that the Duchy
of Lancaster invests her money
here and there and he decided to put
money into the Cayman Islands
and later into Guernsey
and into Bermuda I think.
A very small amount
of money it has to be said.
Her ownership of the particular
company was worth £3,000,
but anyway, it was put
in there and it was advised
by the Duchy of Lancaster
and the Duchy of Lancaster
is controlled by the Chancellor
of the Duchy of Lancaster
who is always in the Cabinet.
At that time when it was advised,
it was a Labour Government
and a Labour Chancellor of the Duchy
of Lancaster raised no
objection to any of this.
Probably rightly so,
in the sense that there was no
criminal or evil behaviour
here and the Queen pays tax
on all the income that
comes to her from it.
So what exactly is it
that people are talking
about and are they saying...
The Queen, if you go
to the Cayman Islands
or Bermuda or Guernsey,
the Queen's head is on the currency,
the Queen's head is on the stamp.
Is she not allowed to...
You are just trying to justify
what is morally wrong at the end
of the day and she's the head
of the state and I would actually
blame the politicians not
closing the loopholes,
so we should ask the question
to the politicians,
what are you going to do about it?
You can discuss it until the cows
come home but please tell us,
what are you going to do
about the loopholes,
that's what we want to know.
I just think it's important to get
a particular example.
What is wrong with
what the Queen did?
She didn't avoid tax.
It's in the Cayman Islands.
Let me answer Charles's
question and your question.
If you can to each's satisfaction.
The concern I have is that she's got
money in a company called
Brighthouse and you might know know
who they are...
Yes, I do...
Charles, let her speak.
They charge an incredibly high rate
of interest and as somebody who's
spent years fighting what I call
these legal loan sharks,
it's deeply worrying to me that
people are profiting from them
because there is an ethical question
about investing in them.
So that's what I have to deal with.
And madam, let me take your question
head on because I agree with you.
Stella, maybe they should...
She's agreeing with you, keep quiet.
Let her agree with you
if you want to hear.
Maybe they should use the money
from the Cayman Islands
to repair Buckingham Palace,
for their repairs.
Can you move the microphone away
now, thank you very much.
Let me answer your question head
on because you are right.
Actually, there are things we can do
about this and a week ago,
so before the Paradise Papers came
out, I tabled an amendment
to the Finance Bill to close
the loophole where British
businesses have to pay tax
on commercial property sales in
the UK but foreign businesses don't.
It's worth £6 billion,
it's these offshore trusts
were people are salting
away commercial properties.
It would have been that magic money
tree to urgently invest
in our public services.
The Government voted it down.
Please help me get it in the budget
this time around because I don't
think we can afford to leave that
afford to leave that
tax loophole looming.
I am 60 years of age.
I'm on the way out.
But three of my children aren't.
A 22-year-old, a 20-year-old
and an 11-year-old who're
living in austerity,
who're forced to get into debts.
With an NHS that needs £24 billion
to exist and we allow foreign
companies and people in this country
to evade, not avoid, evade tax
when the population of this country
is going through austerity.
Ok, Justine Greening?
People should absolutely
pay their fair share of tax.
But these Paradise Papers are
largely from years and years ago.
Some of the situations
we have just been talking
about were literally
from 2004, 2005.
I agree that all of those tax
loopholes needed to be closed
and that's precisely what we have
been doing since 2010.
We have closed so many of them that
we've actually raised £160 billion
of extra tax from those measures.
I have to say, Stella,
I heard you talking about your tax
measure that you want to do,
but before the last election,
the Labour Party failed to support
three key tax measures that
were in the Finance Bill
that we were trying
to get through Parliament
and nobody can understand...
Why did you vote down...
Hang on, Stella, you haven't
answered my question which was,
why did the Labour Party fail
to support three key measures,
one of them was actually
about stopping companies shifting
profits overseas so that we
could actually tax them.
I've just given you a clear
example of us trying
to close a tax loophole.
You voted it down last week,
Justine, I checked.
You haven't answered my question.
We had a general election called and
the Finance Bill went through it -
You haven't answered my question.
Because a general election
was called and so it
went through the washer.
This is the same piece of finance
legislation, isn't it?
The situation -
Isn't it, Justine?
This is the same
piece of legislation.
You could have closed the £6 billion
loophole that most other countries
have closed and you chose not to.
If I could finish.
This was about getting the Finance
Bill through Parliament before
the election was called.
There were three major measures
to reduce tax avoidance.
Labour wouldn't let them through.
The bottom line is that the gap
between how much money this country
is owed in tax and how much we're
actually being paid and collecting
has never been lower.
We need to do more -
So did you vote
against my measure then?
If you could let me finish.
No, stop the tit-for-tat.
If you let me finish.
No, wait a minute.
I want to come back
to what was said and the key point
which Charles Moore was talking
about, the lady up there was talking
about, which is about money moving
abroad and being used abroad.
What do you make of what your former
leader David Cameron said?
You will remember the words,
no doubt, "some of these
schemes we have seen are,
frankly, morally wrong."
Do you agree with him that moving
money abroad, frankly,
is sometimes morally wrong
or are you in favour, as Charles is,
of the Queen investing
there and anybody investing
there who wants to?
I think there are two
aspects of this.
First of all, when there
is aggressive tax avoidance,
that should be shut down.
One of the things -
What is aggressive tax avoidance?
When people are deliberately moving
profits away from the UK for no
other reason than they're trying
to avoid tax.
That's why we brought
in the diverted profits tax
to precisely do that.
But the second point, this is why
I wanted to pick up Stella.
Is if, as a country,
we're not happy how the rules work,
then it's Parliament that should
change them, but it's pretty
galling to have a Labour MP telling
us that we can't change the rules
when they stood in the face
of changing them
before the election.
You have been in power
for almost seven years?
Indeed and we've passed 75 separate
tax avoidance measures.
You've been in power for over seven
years and you keep blaming
this Labour government.
We are in 2017.
Can you please list us
what you are going to do
as a Government so this
can be avoided?
We need to deal with the lawyers
who are involved and at
the centre of these?
They take part in this
and nothing happens to them.
How about you penalise
OK, allow her to answer, thank you.
Sir, you're right.
First of all, we need
to continue closing this
gap that is smaller,
but still there, between what we're
owed and what we actually collect.
Secondly, we need to make sure that
on transparency and the new rules
that all these overseas territories
have to follow about being
clear-cut, who owns these companies
that are based there?
Whos owns and runs the Trusts.
We need to make sure that
information is being shared
with HMRC, which now it has to be
automatically and then
thing is we need to make sure that
HMRC is staffed up and
resourced up properly to be
able to go after that.
That's precisely what we're now
doing because we changed the rules
and we can now make sure we continue
to close the tax gap.
But part of this is continuing
to stay up-to-date.
Because as we close down these
schemes, accountants and lawyers
will try and find out new ones.
That is why this business
is never really complete.
Hang on a second.
The woman there, yes.
This is a question of
morality not legality.
Someone asked me the other day -
what would I do if I had
all these millions of pounds,
wouldn't I move it offshore as well?
Well, I can certainly
say I would not do that
a lot of people in this room
would be able
to say exactly
The financial adviser,
Martin Lewis, did a Twitter poll
today and he asked people
whether they would give cash
to a builder in the knowledge
that this was breaking tax rules,
but giving them a discount.
53% of his respondents
said they would.
The one thing about this I object
to is that the belief that it's just
the rich that avoid tax.
No-one has ever come toll me
and said, "I want to pay
£250,000 for a property,
not £249,950 because I want to pay
the higher stamp duty."
We live in a culture
of tax avoidance.
Every time you go to an airport
there's a sign saying
People are actively
encouraged not to pay tax,
to the bottom our society,
people are doing.
Let her finish, she's only
just started speaking
just started speaking.
Aditya, I know what
you're going to say...
Now wait a moment, wait a moment
everybody, just let Kirstie
have her say and I'll bring you in.
There's no good shouting out.
I know what you're going to say,
that if you are PAYE,
you cannot avoid tax.
But there is enormous...
No, if you go to duty-free you're
not actually avoiding...
There's a difference -
Yes, you are.
There's a difference
between using schemes
which the Government wants
you to use, like
an ISA, for instance.
And then doing this
thing of leasing jets
back-and-forth three times over.
Obviously there's a difference,
but if we all need to have a moral
requirement to pay tax,
then why, when we go
through the airport,
does it say, "duty-free" all over.
Why are we being encouraged to spend
money on alcohol and cigarettes,
which is valuable money
for the Exchequer tax-free actually?
No, hold on.
Don't conflate a few pounds saved
on a packet of fags.
With millions being saved -
I'm not conflating it what I'm
saying is, we have a culture of tax
avoidance in this country
and if it's morally wrong to avoid
tax, it's morally wrong
to avoid tax.
No, hold on.
Let's hear some more.
The man in red there, you sir, yes.
Kirstie Allsopp equates escaping
cigarette tax as the same
as the Duke of Westminster.
The Duke of Westminster
paid 0% inheritance tax.
They are completely different.
If he had paid the inheritance tax
that all of us would have
paid and have to pay,
and I pay my tax, that
could have supported one day's
expenditure in the NHS.
Apple pays 5% corporation tax,
how much do you pay?
So let us be clear about this.
Let us be clear about this.
I think you've made the point.
I want tax avoidance
to be made illegal.
I would like tax avoidance,
which is institutionalised tax
evasion, to be made illegal.
I think it's very important
to understand that a lot
of the wealth of a great many people
is tied up with what people
sometimes call tax avoidance.
For example, if you have your house,
one house, you pay no capital -
you pay no tax on selling it.
How many houses do you have?
No, I'm saying...
That's the point I'm making.
Most people who own a house,
which is the majority
of the population, own one house.
No, no, no.
When they sell their house,
they pay no capital gains tax
on it and the result -
They pay stamp duty.
Yes, but they don't
pay capital gains tax.
If they were to have a house of half
the size and invest money
in the stock market,
they would pay tax.
They live in the house.
The point about this...
It's a very bad...
It's another world.
It's another world.
No, it's not another world.
The point is, the wealth of most
British people is distorted
by the fact that they don't pay
capital gains tax on their house
and therefore they put
all their money into their house.
This doesn't happen -
for example this doesn't -
that is why the houses
are so expensive.
It doesn't happen like that
in Germany, for example.
Therefore, you were encouraged
by the tax system to avoid
the capital gains tax by keeping
all of your
money in your house.
Charles, the man with spectacles
there says you're conflating
two different things.
You're conflating two
If we just go back to the original
question about Lewis Hamilton.
On his tax form he put the business
jet was for a percentage of business
and percentage of leisure.
Now he should have paid tax on that.
The Isle of Man just stamped it off
and off he went he flew to Hawaii.
It's a nonsense.
The second point, you talk
about housing, another
interesting point as well.
Again, I think you're conflating two
different things here.
Presumably, that one
that you've described,
Lewis Hamilton and the Isle of Man.
It's as clear as glass.
HMRC will be after him, won't they?
They are looking into it.
They are looking into the...
Can I make another
point, is the lobbyist
that is going on here
as well and the revolving door
between HMRC and the top four firms
That is true.
They spend huge sums of money
lobbying the Government and then
HMRC don't have the expertise
so they're bringing in these private
consultants to help draft law
and they're just going back down
going back down and going -
guys, well we're know what's
going on the back door,
we'll just devise a plan
to get round it.
It's not being addressed.
This gentleman is talking
about what's called
the common purse payment.
What the Government does,
which is a cosy deal with the Isle
of Man, that allows them to do this.
There are always choices,
just as there's a debate
to be had about fairness.
I don't think it's fair that British
businesses have to pay a tax that
non-UK businesses don't pay.
I don't understand why anybody
would hold UK commercial property
overseas in an overseas trust.
But they are.
We as taxpayers are paying
for the consequence of that.
So the question for all of us is -
what are we going to do about it?
Because our public finances
and our -
You are in power.
You are in the House of Commons -
She's not in power.
I'm trying, sir.
I promise you.
Labour and Conservative
no-one has tackled this,
transfer pricing has been
going on for years and both parties
have had opportunities to stop that.
It sounds as though you should be
in the House of Commons.
We have been taking measures
companies who shift their profits
from the UK to another jurisdiction,
often one of these overseas
territories perhaps. That's what the
diverted profits tax was all about
and the amount that companies pay on
that diverted profit is more than
they would have paid if they'd had
the profit here in the UK. So
punitive level compared to
corporation tax here. The point is
to make sure we get more of profits
truly generated here in the UK
registered in the UK so that it's
properly taxed but that's - those
are the steps reare taking.
We will continue to make sure we
look at taking as many as we need to
keep closing this tax gap. It's at
the lowest level ever in the UK echl
he with want it to get down to zero.
I want to go back to Kirstie on the
point he made. You commented it was
true that the HMRC, the tax
collectors, are being advised by
people who have other interests at
Poacher turned gamekeeper,
isn't it David?
I don't know.
is what goes on. One point you work
for - that is what you are talking
about, poacher turned gamekeeper.
Don't go back to him, he's spoken
The problem is that if
you're an expert in an area, you
sometimes work for the Government
and you sometimes work for private
organisations and you go back and
It doesn't make it OK.
Stella, when did I say it was OK? I
never said it was OK. I agreed with
the gentleman it happens. I never
said it was OK. I don't think any of
it is OK. I've never said any of
It's definitely not OK.
said I think we have a culture of
tax avoidance across the whole of
The former Chancellor
struck a sweetheart tax deal with
Google to allow them off their tax
bill and then said is was a good
deal for Britain. You don't even
need to look at the HMRC look at our
elected politicians. Look at the guy
who used to be senior in the
Conservative Party, Ashcroft, a
All right, let's go on.
Thank you. Let us take a question
now from Nathan Langford.
17-year-old schoolboy, how is it I
know how to respect women better
than some of our Government
I think it's a
really good point. I think when you
look at what's been happening in the
States with the scandal around
Harvey Weinstein and what about
going on in parliament across all
parties, frankly, there is a need
for a massive culture change but
backed up with rule changes. If you
look at Westminster, the problem is
that for too long if people have had
problems, not just women, but also
men, there hasn't really been a way
for them to get them properly
followed up. Often they have been
left with talking to people within
their party. Often the party they
want to build a coo career in. They
have not come forward. What we are
seeing across the board, whether
it's showbusiness orient tinment or
politics, people who perhaps didn't
realise other people have
experienced these issues now coming
forward. I think that's good, but I
do think we need to make sure we
have the processes in place within
parliament and I think parties need
to bring forward, we are doing it,
Stella will talk about the Labour
Party, a code of conduct so we set
ourselves a high standards. Finally,
you made the point about your
understanding of respect.
Absolutely, schools have a key role
to play in all of this. One of the
reasons we are updating
relationships and sex education for
the first time is 17 years is that
it's important because that stays
up-to-date and relevant for young
people in our education system right
25 years ago when I was selling
classified sales a guy came up to me
and did a pelvic thrust behind #4e
me I told him to F-off at the top of
my house. I ended up with a threat
of a written warning, not him. A
I was threatened
with a written warning, not him. I
thought it was grossly unfair. I
think, 25 years later, that wouldn't
happen. But this is about power. I
rang a friend this morning, you know
you are coming on Question Time you
do a bit of chatting. She said to me
something interesting. Said of all
the incidents that happened to me it
was never a member of staff who was
June or to me. It's not about sex
it's about power. It's about people.
It's about people who are senior to
people that are below them and
exercising a degree of control over
them. When it happens you remember
it and you remember it forever. I'm
quite a robust person, I'm quite
capable of telling people to F off
and I remember it. What I would say
is, there's one other point. I would
address it to the young man. I am
Rae sorry -
Nathan. I was
recently given a diversity document
from a production company I do work
for. It said in it, "use of
affectionate terms such as "darling"
will constitute sexual harassment."
I said to HR, I think this is wrong.
I don't think the use of the word
"darling" constitutes sexual
harassment. I'm still battling with
them about it. I think it's an
incredibly important issue, but it's
about power and abuse, it's not
about that fantastic sexual humour
and banter that we all need in our
lives and we all have. I think it's
about abuse of power and it has to
be stamped out.
Nathan you asked the question, how
is it that you know how to respect
women better than some Government
ministers do? What is your answer to
astounded. Like we have seen with
Michael Fallon and other Government
ministers the sex toy minister, it's
absolutely disgusting. I agree with
what Kirstie said. This has to bring
about some kind of change. If it
goes too far that men and women
can't talk to each other touch each
other friendly in the workplace,
that's how u ares are started that
is how people get on.
40% of people
meet in their workplace.
If men and
women feel estranged from each other
that's corrosive to society?
think this is a generational thing.
When you say, I was a 17-year-old
schoolboy you mean you are of a
generation that respects women in
the way that an older generation
We had an assembly on lad culture.
We were shown a video where men and
women were saying horrible things
Everyone was on the
whole quite serious abouts it in
assembly. When we got out of the
door people started joking and think
- it doesn't apply to me. I could
have a joke about it and a laugh
about my mates. Part of that is, you
know, looking quite sheepish or
whatever in front of your mates if
you agree with what has been said in
the assembly or whatever.
Part of it
Is not realising that that
kind of joke, that kind of humour is
part of the problem. That has to be
It's because you don't
have power yet.
She is right. People exploit their
power. They exploit it in sexual
matters and in terms of money and in
terms of ma MEP layings. Not all
powerful people do that. That is the
temptation. How do you deal with it
in the House of Commons, in
When it is tolerated because it
shouldn't have been when somebody
can be ruined by an accusation you
have have new problems.
Poor Mr Carl Sergeant who seems
to have killed himself
at the beginning of the week
is an example of this.
He was chucked out of the Welsh
government and suspended
from the Labour Party and he never
knew, and he will never know,
what he was accused of.
This seems to me terribly wrong
and it's again this sort of the rush
that Kirstie referred to earlier
on the programme in another matter
that, people are more keen to accuse
people than they are to get
to the bottom of this
and sort it out.
We have got to have proper
process and proper forms
of inquiry to deal with it,
we have to be serious
about it rather than just
accusing one another.
So, Stella Creasy, is that
an argument that does apply
to Carl Sergeant and the way
he was treated?
So, I know people might want to get
into individual cases,
I'm not going to because I'm very
mindful that there will be alleged
victims, there will be family
members of Mr Sergeant who might be
watching this tonight and it's
a tragedy that Carl has died.
I worked with Carl, I knew Carl.
What I do want to talk about,
so where I can agree with you,
Charles, is about the importance
of a process and what we have to do,
particularly in Parliament
and public life is take this away
from the politics of it.
A very, very wonderful young woman
in the Labour Party called
Becks Bailey went forward
and was given a careers advice
lesson when she tried
to report a serious assault.
That must never happen.
We need people who're capable
of dealing with people
who've suffered trauma.
That's what we are talking about.
The challenge when you are dealing
with this is one of the few things
that happens to people and people
always question you.
So if you were to say,
I had been burglared,
nobody would say to you,
are you sure, what was your house
looking like at the time,
tell me about the windows,
tell me about the doors.
Sadly what happens with this,
partly because with power comes
the capacity to shame people
and to silence them through shame,
that's what we have to be
able to break through.
There have been some incredibly
brave people who've come forward
in the last couple of weeks.
The duty and responsibility
on all of us absolutely is to get
the process right but to do it
in a way that makes sense
to victims, victims of sexual
violence, sexual assault
and the problems that
we are seeing now.
We are a long way off that.
We can get there if we take away
the hysteria and the idea that
somehow there is a witch-hunt
and recognise how difficulties
for people to come forward
because of that concept of shame.
That's not just in politics,
that's across society.
You in grey there?
I think that Nathan made a very,
very important point.
He said, as a 17-year-old,
he has more respect for women
than some politicians.
Charles, you said that is
because you do not have power "yet".
By you saying that,
you are insinuating that
when he becomes a very powerful man
that he would then abuse women
and that is not right.
What we have is a culture
where sexual abuse and sexual
harassment towards women is accepted
because men are powerful
and that is clearly not right.
You cannot insinuate that
because he is not powerful then
that's why he doesn't respect women.
Respect of women should be
a universal standard,
it should be by politicians...
Regardless if you are powerful,
if you are not powerful,
it does not matter.
So making that statement is
perpetuating a very, very bad idea.
It is what you said, Charles?
I'm sorry if I didn't make myself
clear, I completely agree with that.
The point I'm making
is about the temptation that people
get when they get into power
and this is what the abuse that has
to be looked at all the time.
It's not an excuse for it
but I'm explaining it.
But Charles I also think
there is a generational issue
here perhaps around what a younger
generation thinks is acceptable
and I think attitudes have moved
on and I have to say
in the right way frankly.
I think that's right.
There is a cultural problem
here of trivialising women,
sometimes express itself very
violent, sometimes it
expresses itself in the pages
of our newspapers and media.
I'm a loyal reader of Charles Moore
so before I came on, like Kirstie,
I did a bit of research
and I remember this piece Charles
wrote for the Spectator
in 2015 around the time
of the Labour Leadership election
and it was titled have Yvette Cooper
and Liz Kendall got the looks
for the Labour Leadership and there
was an amazing conclusion...
A writer never writes
his own headline.
An amazing conclusion.
A writer never writes his own
headline, as you know,
you're a journalist.
I do but I'm sure you
wrote this bit though.
You said there is something quite
appealing about Yvette Cooper,
he slightly French crop
and her black-and-white dress.
There is an issue which affects our
politics in which people are treated
as a lesser because they're women
or because they're from ethnic
minorities or because they come
from working class backgrounds
and that's what we
need to get rid of.
The woman there?
I was listening to what Justine said
and it was a bit worrying
that she said they released
a code of conduct.
You would think that that would be
something that should have already
been done before you made
It's a shame there is not a lot
of women in Parliament
but these kind of situations
are going to deter women from even
wanting to be in Parliament
because it's those things in the way
that it's treated and handled,
it's not just something that's
happened the past three or four
years, it's a generation generation
of culture that's continued
and nothing's been done about it.
Joining why suddenly
now, it's media.
So what we are doing,
there was an inquiry a long time ago
when there were issues like this
in the past around standards
in public life and what we are doing
now is frankly making sure it's
actually fit for purpose today
because of the problems
we can see today.
As we have been saying on the panel,
a big part of this is Parliament
as a work place, having some
independent support and grievance
processes for people who work
there who need to raise issues
and get them dealt with.
And within the parties,
that doesn't work as effectively,
which is why we need it.
The man in the spectacles
there, at the very back?
You with your hand up, yes,
be quick, if you would?
What I suggest that Mrs May
was to appoint a Minister
for Manner and courtesy,
and I would suggest Jacob Rees-Mogg.
You have spoken already I think.
You, Sir, briefly, if you would?
I think there is an element
of we need to be very mindful
of people being accused in terms
of levels of protection.
A prime example sadly
is the Welsh MP.
I'm very mindful that we have had
a lot of celebrities
and a lot of politicians,
who've been effectively hounded
erroneously as it turns out
but their identity was splashed
across all the social media.
If an alleger is able to have some
degree of anonymity until such
an individual was charged or twos
to court, surely they
are also entitled to...
This is such an important point
because we don't have anonymity
for any type of crime in this
country so if you single out this,
the message that you are sending,
and we have worked so hard
to challenge this within
the police and the wider CPS,
is that we don't believe people,
we set a different standard of truth
about this particular type of crime
than we do for any other
type of crime.
Why are you asking for...
I'm not saying that somebody who's
served in the military for arguments
sake, somebody who's a former
Home Secretary, a former
politician, and unfortunately
this Welsh politician,
that they are not deserving...
I'm asking you because we know that
when people come forward,
as we have seen, it gives other
people confidence that they will be
believed because shame is in it.
We have to stop there, I'm sorry,
apologies to you both.
Our hour is up.
Our next Thursday Question Time
is going to come from Newcastle and,
among others on our panel,
Emily Thornberry, Tim Farron,
Rod Liddel and crime
writer Val McDiarmid.
That is in Newcastle and you can
call to be there and go
to the Question Time website,
you can equally apply there.
Question Time extra time
follows on Five Live.
We are discussing all of the issues
we have been talking about.
My thanks to the panel
and to you who came here
to Croydon to take part.
Until next Thursday, good night.
David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Croydon. On the panel are secretary of state for education and minister for women and equalities Justine Greening, Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy, television presenter Kirstie Allsopp, Guardian columnist and lead writer on the Paradise Papers Aditya Chakrabortty, and Daily Telegraph and Spectator columnist Charles Moore.