23/11/2017 Question Time


23/11/2017

David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Colchester. The panel includes Greg Clark, Diane Abbott, Lord Hogan-Howe, Lord Rose and crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell.


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Transcript


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Tonight, we are in Colchester.

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And welcome to Question Time.

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And on our panel tonight,

the Conservative Secretary

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of State for Business,

and a member of Theresa May's

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inner Cabinet, Greg Clarke.

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Labour's Shadow Home Secretary,

Diane Abbott, who this year

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celebrates 30 years as an MP.

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The former head of the Met,

who resigned this year at the end

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of six years as Commissioner,

Bernard Hogan-Howe.

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The crime writer and Brexit

supporter Dreda Say Mitchell.

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And the former boss of Marks &

Spencer, who chaired the campaign

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for Britain to stay in the EU,

Stuart Rose.

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And, as ever, what is talked

about here is always contentious

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and if you want to join

in from home, a reminder our hashtag

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is BBCQT on Twitter or Facebook,

or you can text 83981,

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push the red button and you will see

what other people are saying.

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Our first question tonight

is from Jo Richardson, please.

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Workers are worse off

now than ten years ago,

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and the future looks equally gloomy,

to quote, "Astonishing".

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What is the point of capitalism?

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What is the point of capitalism?

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APPLAUSE

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Stuart Rose.

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Well, that's a tough

question to get asked first.

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Thank you very much,

Jo, for that one.

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Listen, we are facing very tough

times and I've no doubt we'll talk

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about the Budget at some point.

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But one of the things we really need

to talk about in the context

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of where we are today is not

the Budget but the economy.

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And I'm afraid all

the signs are not good.

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It doesn't matter who you refer to,

whether it's the IFS,

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whether it's the ONS,

whether it's the Bank of England.

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All the indicators are that we have

gone from being one of the top

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performers in the G7,

one of the top performers

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in the world, one of the top

performers in Europe in terms

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of growth, and we are now nearly

at the bottom of the league.

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And that's happened

in the last six or 12 months.

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And I don't want to open the debate

straightaway about saying that's

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all caused by Brexit.

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Forget about Brexit.

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It's irrelevant, to the extent

that we still have a problem.

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Our country is facing

a very difficult time.

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I think what we need

to do is face up to it.

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What we need to do is understand

the reasons for it.

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We have to articulate to everybody,

yourselves and to the country

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at wide, why those reasons

are there, what we think

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we can do about it.

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We've got to join together

to find solutions.

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It's not easy.

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It will take time, but I'm afraid

the future is a little bit gloomy.

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I do say it's gloomier

because of the situation

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we are finding ourselves in terms

of politics today and Brexit.

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APPLAUSE

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Diane Abbott.

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Capitalism is a way

of organising the economy.

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But the problems with

capitalism arise first

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of all when it is unregulated,

or not properly regulated.

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It was bankers who were not properly

regulated that tipped us

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into the economic crisis

which we are still struggling with.

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APPLAUSE

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I'm not against bankers, though,

not really, but they should have

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been properly regulated.

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It's also an issue when you try

and inject the market and capitalism

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into areas where it has no business.

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For instance, the health service.

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APPLAUSE

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I believe that the health service

should be free at the point of use.

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So I can see that politics is a way

of organising the world,

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but we can see both here

and the United States

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and across the world

what unregulated capitalism

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and injecting the market into

the wrong situations can lead to.

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APPLAUSE

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Greg Clarke, this idea that workers

are worse off than ten years ago,

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and we know the gloomy predictions

in this Budget, one of the gloomiest

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Budgets any of us have ever heard.

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Does it mean capitalism isn't

working, isn't delivering?

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First of all, if you look at

capitalism, and for all the flaws,

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a bit like Winston Churchill said

about democracy, look

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at the alternative.

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And if you really want to see

the effects on people,

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look at socialist societies.

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Look at Venezuela...

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APPLAUSE

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Look at Cuba, look

at Eastern Europe.

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The role of capitalism,

the role of business,

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let's put it that way,

is absolutely essential.

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It is by working, by paying taxes,

by producing things that we all

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consume that we are employed,

taxes are paid to support

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our public services.

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It's absolutely vital.

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Lots of us, outside of family

and education, lots of us

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fulfil our potential throughout

the world of work in companies.

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So let's not be against business

and successful business,

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because I would say that every

successful society has

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successful businesses.

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Of course they need to be prosperous

and they need to respect

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the people's rights, but you can't

have a successful society

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unless you have thriving businesses.

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The man up there.

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APPLAUSE

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Regarding Diane Abbott

saying about the bankers,

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wasn't it Gordon Brown

at the Mansion House

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speech said he wanted

to encourage the risk takers?

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I have to tell you,

I was in Parliament at that time

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and I didn't hear a single solitary

Conservative MP saying they wanted

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tougher regulation on bankers.

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But you admit, Gordon

Brown did say that.

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And just to refer to what Greg said,

I took care to say that

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I wasn't against business.

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I was pointing at what happens

when there isn't proper regulation,

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what happens when you have a society

driven by greed.

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Because when a society's

driven by greed, then

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it's actually the most

vulnerable who always suffer.

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APPLAUSE

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You, sir, over there.

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I would say there's nothing wrong

with capitalisation and capitalism.

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The problem all the socialist

countries have felt,

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and capitalism has succeeded

across the world, the problem

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is globalisation and the fact

that the rules are not

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the same for everyone.

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The multinationals are capable

of doing business in every country,

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most countries, apart from those

that still have some kind

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of sovereignty, without paying tax.

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How can local and national companies

compete with those multinationals?

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It is a downwards spiral

which is going to bring,

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like we are seeing across the EU

nations, increasing unemployment,

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increasing cost, increasing tax

to try to gain back some money

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and cover the increasing cost.

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So the EU has been failing

for the last 25 years.

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The EU is not the solution,

it is the cause of the increasing

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unemployment and problems

that we have.

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It is not capitalism.

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If everyone had the chance to make

business and only pay 4% of tax,

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which is what most of the 100

multinationals are doing

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in the EU, I would bet

that Europe would be

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a better place.

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APPLAUSE

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Bernard Hogan-Howe.

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I suppose it's in my nature,

but I would probably challenge

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a little bit the underpinning

in the assumption of the question,

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which is that we are in a horrible

place and it's terrible and things

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will never get better.

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What we've got is two

quarters of economic data,

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and that's important.

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And it might tell us

there is a trend, but we don't

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know for certain yet.

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And of course, the judgments

delivered by economists.

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There may be economists

in the audience, I don't know.

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The gentleman who just spoke may

well be an economist.

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But what we know with economists

is they are not always very good

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at predicting the future.

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They can explain and analyse

the past but they can't

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always predict the future.

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So I'm not entirely sure that we are

in such a terrible place,

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but clearly there is a challenge

for a while.

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer

seems to think we are in

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a pretty terrible place.

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What he's saying is that

the growth is not as high

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as they were expecting.

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1.4%, or something.

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It is the first time

for a while that it's been below 2%.

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So it's clearly not as good

as everybody wants.

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But it's not zero, and it's

not less than zero.

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So my point is that before

we overreact, we ought to at least

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understand what we are facing.

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People are already living in such

a desperate situation.

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You are talking as if, Bernard,

things are not bad for people.

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Currently we've got 6 million people

Jammed, just about managing.

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We've got two out of five

households, actually,

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who can't afford to do the things

that they want to do.

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We've got 42% of people

who cannot go away annually

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one week on a holiday.

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And the thing I meant with two

households out of five,

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they cannot save a tenner a month.

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If that is not bad...

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And what the government now

is saying to people is probably

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things are going to get worse.

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And also on top of that,

where is the investment

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in our young people?

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All right, don't make

too many points.

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Let Bernard answer.

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My point is not...

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Because you just described my

childhood, more or less.

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My point is not to dismiss

that type of background.

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My point is that we can

still have a positive

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attitude about the economy.

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That's my first point.

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The second point is,

in terms of capitalism,

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I think generally it's the better

of the alternatives.

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And I think although...

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And I agree entirely

with what Diane said,

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it ought to be regulated capitalism.

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There needs to make sure

that we have regulation.

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Don't you feel...

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Let him speak.

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The second point is that it ought

to be caring as well.

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And I think it isn't always caring.

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I think the incentive for capitalism

is about making profit,

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and that is a good thing.

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It generates wealth

and that helps us.

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But I don't think it

always cares about those

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people you just described.

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So I think that's where the state

has to take a part.

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I'll come to you soon.

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Let's hear some more

from members of the audience.

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The woman in the third row.

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Yes, I agree with Diane Abbott

completely and I do think

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capitalism is failing us.

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I think it has to be regulated.

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I completely agree

with what you said.

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To the Tory MP, I don't see

why you have to make

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this comparison with, "Oh,

socialist is a bad option.

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"What other alternative is there"?

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Well, I'm sorry, but socialism,

for me, is a great alternative.

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I would like to see

the Labour Party get in next time

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there's an election.

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OK, Greg Clarke.

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Let Mr Clarke reply.

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What I would say to you is

that we've had a test

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of this in practice.

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I understand that the socialists

were well motivated.

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They wanted to make

their countries better.

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But time and again it has failed

and people have been

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pushed into poverty.

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Where has it failed?

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Can I turn to something...

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Let him finish.

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Diane made a point.

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She said in response to a member

of the audience that no Conservative

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MP called out Gordon Brown

when this deregulation

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of the City was happening.

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That is not true.

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I'll tell you one Conservative MP,

Peter Lilley, who was

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the Conservative Shadow Chancellor.

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And at that moment,

when the Bank of England,

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that had always been a very

dependable, responsible regulator

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of financial services,

was being moved away,

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what Peter Lilley said in the House

of Commons was that this

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was the government taking its eye

off the ball and spivs and crooks

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would have a field day,

and that is exactly what happened

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and that is what he

predicted and opposed.

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That's some time back.

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APPLAUSE

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Maybe we should come back

to the present and to yesterday's

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Budget and the prediction of flat

growth and no change in people's

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take-home pay for a decade or more.

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Stuart Rose, you were

trying to get in.

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I just want to get...

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What's your name?

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Jackie.

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I just want to get back to the point

that you made, if I may say so,

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because I'd like to be clear

in my own mind in this audience

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about whether we would all agree

that the creation of wealth

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for all of us is a good thing.

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Because if we don't have

wealth and money to spend

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we cannot build hospitals,

we cannot build roads,

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we cannot build universities,

we cannot educate our children,

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we cannot even spend the money that

some parties might choose

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us to want to spend.

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So is the creation of

wealth a good thing?

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I think most of us would say yes.

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Yes, creation of wealth.

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But what I was trying to say

was that the Tory MP

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was saying that businesses,

you know, we all need businesses.

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Yes, we need creation of wealth,

we need businesses.

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Socialism doesn't say

we don't, does it?

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No, my point would be

that I agree with you,

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creation of wealth is a good thing.

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I've spent all my life in business

and I have been engaged

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in the creation of wealth

with people,

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in my most recent full-time job

with 100,000 people who depended

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on us to make sure that we create

the right amount of money

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to pay them the wages,

to pay for the investment

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in our business, to pay our taxes

and to pay for the hospitals,

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schools and whatever else.

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I'm sorry, but it's got

to trickle down as well.

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The lowest of the low are getting

paid nothing while the top ones

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are getting extraordinary,

ridiculous amounts of money.

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We are all suffering austerity.

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Jackie, I think we are going to be

in violent agreement.

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I agree with you,

in the sense that it's

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about the distribution of wealth.

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That's what we should

have a conversation about.

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The man with the spectacles

on in the second row from the back.

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For me, here is the difficulty.

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We've got the socialists arguing

with the capitalists,

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saying it's one or the other,

when the reality is what is

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needed is a third way.

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What we really need is to encourage

entrepreneurs, to encourage

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the creation of wealth,

but with that we need

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to also encourage people

to be compassionate,

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people to look after the poor,

people to look after our relatives

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who are in old people's homes that

aren't fit for purpose any more.

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We need a compassionate economic

system that will work for everyone.

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To pick up Jo Richardson's

question, do you think

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that the future looks gloomy?

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Me?

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Yes.

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No, I'm a glass is half full kind

of person, to be honest.

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I think there are organisations,

there's the voluntary sector

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who are doing incredible work.

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We talked this evening, earlier,

about food banks and suchlike.

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There are people like that

who are working really hard.

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It's just a shame they are needed.

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I do think we need to look

after the more vulnerable

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members of society more

than we currently do.

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The lady on the right.

Yes.

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I'm actually an economist by trade.

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There are economists

in the audience!

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I think what is always important

is economic growth, but

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inclusive economic growth.

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Even here in Essex we have

these coastal areas

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that are really deprived,

and it is sharing that wealth.

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There is a lot of focus

in London rather than save

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maybe in the north.

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And I know there is a bit

in the Budget about moving

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towards that.

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And I think it's really,

really important about

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spreading the wealth, not just

between generations but

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across regions.

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APPLAUSE.

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What is the difference in growth

in different regions of Britain?

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Is the North West,

for instance, or the

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Northeast doing better

than the South in terms of actual

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growth, not in total prosperity?

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Well actually, the

fastest-growing part

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of the country now

is the north-west.

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It used to be the case.

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That is the gap has closed.

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But there is further

to go, as I think

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everyone knows.

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London and the south-east

are still ahead in terms

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of productivity.

And that is the big challenge.

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Those people that have said that

actually it's not either

0:16:190:16:23

or, we do have a role in making sure

that the prosperity that is enjoyed

0:16:230:16:27

by people who are earning well,

companies that are doing well, is

0:16:270:16:33

spread across the whole country.

0:16:330:16:38

And the challenge

that we have is this

0:16:380:16:39

productivity challenge

that was laid out in the Budget.

0:16:390:16:43

Can you use sort

of ordinary English?

0:16:430:16:48

I mean, the productivity

challenge is hardly

0:16:480:16:50

going to get everybody

fired up, is it?

0:16:500:16:53

What it is is this, it takes people

in Germany four days to

0:16:530:16:58

produce what people in the UK take

five days to produce.

0:16:580:17:04

And that means that they can

pay themselves better.

0:17:040:17:07

Whose fault is this?

0:17:070:17:09

This is a long-standing

challenge of the

0:17:090:17:11

British economy.

0:17:110:17:12

And it has a number

of different causes.

0:17:120:17:17

And what we need to do,

and this is not a party

0:17:170:17:20

political point, because it is

something that embraces the trade

0:17:200:17:22

unions, it embraces the trade

unions, leaders of councils,

0:17:220:17:26

universities and everyone else.

0:17:260:17:27

It's looking at what

you need to do to

0:17:270:17:29

improve things.

0:17:290:17:30

You need to improve

training and education.

0:17:300:17:34

You need to improve our

level of scientific

0:17:340:17:36

research and applying

that in practice.

0:17:360:17:39

You need to have

better infrastructure.

0:17:390:17:41

Again, this is a speech.

0:17:410:17:42

This is a speech.

0:17:420:17:43

All right.

0:17:430:17:45

Dreda, I'll come to you.

0:17:450:17:47

I mean, I just listen to this -

you see, my whole background

0:17:470:17:50

is sort of grassroots.

0:17:500:17:51

I'm not a politician.

0:17:510:17:54

And what I hear from people

day in, day out is big

0:17:540:17:58

companies, the people

at the top get all the money,

0:17:580:18:00

they don't get a lot of money,

they are seen as cheap

0:18:000:18:03

labour.

0:18:030:18:04

We live in a hire,

fire type of economy.

0:18:040:18:07

Somehow along we've got to start

taking care of our workers.

0:18:070:18:11

Because the way we are talking

about productivity, it was almost

0:18:110:18:14

as if the workers are the problem.

0:18:140:18:16

The workers are not

working quickly enough.

0:18:160:18:18

That is what I picked up from it.

0:18:180:18:24

So we've got to start thinking

about the sort of society we want

0:18:240:18:27

to be.

0:18:270:18:28

I don't use words like

capitalism and socialism.

0:18:280:18:30

I think about what is

the type of society I

0:18:300:18:33

want the next generation

to be living in?

0:18:330:18:35

I want them to be able to think

when they go to work there

0:18:350:18:38

will be in a caring environment,

they will be looked after, they will

0:18:380:18:41

get a decent wage.

0:18:410:18:42

We talked about the

society that we are in.

0:18:420:18:44

If you think about the

public sector, and I

0:18:440:18:47

think about my days as a teacher,

it is full of people

0:18:470:18:50

who were serving the community.

0:18:500:18:52

Why is it they are not

being paid properly?

0:18:520:18:55

Why is it their money

is being stopped?

0:18:550:19:01

If we are so caring we've got

to look after the people

0:19:010:19:04

who look after us.

0:19:040:19:06

That is a big job that the

government has to do and it was one

0:19:060:19:10

of the things in the Budget

that really, really I'm

0:19:100:19:13

disappointed and very

upset about.

0:19:130:19:14

OK.

0:19:140:19:16

Let's go back to some

members of our audience.

0:19:160:19:18

The woman in the third

row in the centre

0:19:180:19:21

there, yes?

0:19:210:19:25

Surely the prime job of a politician

0:19:250:19:27

is to serve the community,

the problem with our society is not

0:19:270:19:30

capitalism or socialism, it's

that our politicians are not serving

0:19:300:19:32

their communities.

0:19:320:19:34

In what way?

0:19:340:19:35

They are not listening

to the community,

0:19:350:19:36

they are not engaging

with the community.

0:19:360:19:38

The community are having politics

having done to them rather

0:19:380:19:40

than being engaged in the process.

0:19:400:19:42

APPLAUSE.

0:19:420:19:46

Diane?

0:19:460:19:47

I wanted to respond very quickly.

0:19:470:19:50

Can you respond to her first?

0:19:500:19:51

Well, I do, I do listen

to my community.

0:19:510:19:57

And even when it got me

into trouble with my leadership,

0:19:570:20:01

like when I listened to my community

on the Iraq war, I did what my

0:20:010:20:05

community wanted.

0:20:050:20:06

What about all the politicians,

for example, who sat

0:20:060:20:12

in a Remain constituency but voted

to leave, or vice versa?

0:20:120:20:14

Oh well, I mean, the

referendum was a thought

0:20:140:20:16

to leave.

0:20:160:20:26

-- a vote.

0:20:260:20:27

And I think there is a democratic

issue about taking the

0:20:270:20:30

referendum vote seriously.

0:20:300:20:31

What type of Brexit

we have is another matter.

0:20:310:20:33

It is my view the Tories are

mismanaging negotiations from top to

0:20:330:20:36

bottom.

0:20:360:20:37

But just to quickly respond to Greg,

he said that Peter Lilley

0:20:370:20:40

voted not to make the Bank

of England independent.

0:20:400:20:45

I'm sorry, Peter Lilley,

how many years back

0:20:450:20:47

are we talking about?!

0:20:470:20:50

We are here in 2017.

0:20:500:20:51

When did Peter Lilley leave

the House of Commons?

0:20:510:20:53

I made the point.

0:20:530:20:54

You made the point, didn't you?

0:20:540:20:56

Let's leave Peter

Lilley to one side.

0:20:560:20:59

But there is a serious point.

0:20:590:21:02

Greg's main argument was to offer

this completely false dichotomy

0:21:020:21:06

between, you know, Trump's America

on the one hand and Cuba on the

0:21:060:21:09

other hand.

0:21:090:21:10

There are other models of society.

0:21:100:21:12

Look at the Scandinavian countries.

0:21:120:21:13

They have far better public health.

0:21:130:21:17

Much more equal, much

better health service.

0:21:170:21:21

Don't talk about extremes.

0:21:210:21:23

What we want is a fair,

a more equal and a genuinely

0:21:230:21:27

social democratic society.

0:21:270:21:28

APPLAUSE.

0:21:280:21:34

I just want to pick up the German

comparison, because it is an

0:21:340:21:37

interesting point.

0:21:370:21:38

Many of the people who can

afford to will buy

0:21:380:21:40

German products.

0:21:400:21:42

And I think one of the things

the government has

0:21:420:21:44

responsibility to do,

which I didn't see any Budget,

0:21:440:21:47

because it was one of the things.

0:21:470:21:49

It's not how much tax was reduced,

I was looking for a

0:21:490:21:52

vision, or something that we can

all start to think about.

0:21:520:21:54

So if one of the things

that we need to do

0:21:540:21:57

is to embed quality

in the things we do,

0:21:570:21:59

Then you have to do

something about that.

0:21:590:22:01

You have to set up systems,

you have to look at research and

0:22:010:22:04

development.

0:22:040:22:05

So the investment goes

into the good ideas.

0:22:050:22:07

We have had great ideas

in this country, but we

0:22:070:22:09

never seem to make it often

to actually manufacture anything.

0:22:090:22:12

Education, clearly a vital part

of making sure that things are

0:22:120:22:14

developed.

0:22:140:22:15

The government talked about,

during the election,

0:22:150:22:18

involving workers on the boards.

0:22:180:22:19

That hasn't happened.

0:22:190:22:20

It does happen in Germany.

0:22:200:22:22

My point is, I'm not saying

the German economy is the best, it's

0:22:220:22:25

a pretty strong one.

0:22:250:22:26

Some of the things they do,

I think, government

0:22:260:22:28

does have a responsibility

at a strategic level

0:22:280:22:30

to set that context.

0:22:300:22:31

I don't think we see

it often enough.

0:22:310:22:33

We see what can be regarded

as gimmicks, the odd idea,

0:22:330:22:35

attractive for a bit.

0:22:350:22:36

It doesn't pay you back

for five years and that's

0:22:360:22:39

the sort of thing I

think we need to see.

0:22:390:22:41

No, no, plenty more time to talk.

0:22:410:22:43

I think we'll move onto another

aspect of the Budget.

0:22:430:22:45

We've got a lot of questions.

0:22:450:22:47

I can't get through them all.

0:22:470:22:48

I can't get to them all,

but one of the key ones is

0:22:480:22:51

the next one.

0:22:510:22:52

Just before we come to that though,

I should tell viewers

0:22:520:22:55

where we are going to be

next week, Scarborough.

0:22:550:22:59

And Swansea the week after that.

0:22:590:23:03

So if you're watching in

Scarborough or Swansea

0:23:030:23:05

and want to come to Question Time,

the details are on the screen of how

0:23:050:23:09

to get there.

0:23:090:23:10

I'll give those at the end.

0:23:100:23:11

This other aspect of it

which was very central to a lot of

0:23:110:23:14

people's concerns about the economy

at the moment, from John Acker,

0:23:140:23:17

please, John Acker.

0:23:170:23:18

Can the Budget fix

the broken housing market?

0:23:180:23:26

Dianne Abbott?

0:23:260:23:27

No.

0:23:270:23:28

The housing crisis

we face has more than

0:23:280:23:34

one dimension.

0:23:340:23:35

There are homeless people.

0:23:350:23:36

And actually, it's all tied up

with what is happening in private

0:23:360:23:39

housing.

0:23:390:23:40

There are people paying

astronomical rents nowadays.

0:23:400:23:44

60% of their income on rental.

0:23:440:23:47

There are people that

want to own their own

0:23:470:23:49

homes, and there are people that may

have a home but are very worried

0:23:490:23:53

about their children.

0:23:530:23:55

So no, this Budget does

not deal with all of

0:23:550:23:58

those issues.

0:23:580:24:00

What would you have wanted it to do?

0:24:000:24:02

I would have wanted it...

0:24:020:24:03

If it had been your Budget,

or McDonnell's Budget?

0:24:030:24:06

If it had in my Budget we would have

0:24:060:24:08

brought in some measure

of rent control.

0:24:080:24:10

APPLAUSE.

0:24:100:24:16

And if it had been my Budget,

we would have been borrowing

0:24:190:24:22

to invest in council housing.

0:24:220:24:25

APPLAUSE.

0:24:250:24:30

Now the Tories seem to think there's

some sort of stigma about council

0:24:300:24:33

housing.

0:24:330:24:35

But actually, good quality,

well-managed council housing is part

0:24:350:24:38

of the whole housing mix.

0:24:380:24:42

If you just rely on

subsidies to builders so

0:24:420:24:47

people can buy overpriced houses,

you're never going to meet the

0:24:470:24:50

real needs.

0:24:500:24:52

Can we just get the borrowing

thing clarified?

0:24:520:24:54

Sorry, you would borrow how

much and what would you

0:24:540:24:57

do with it?

0:24:570:25:00

Give it to the councils

or allow councils to borrow?

0:25:000:25:03

What would the plan be?

0:25:030:25:06

As you probably know,

the Bank of England base rate

0:25:060:25:09

is now half a percent.

0:25:090:25:10

When we get into

government, as I hope we

0:25:100:25:12

do, maybe next year,

maybe in 2022, we'll...

0:25:120:25:15

Exactly!

0:25:150:25:19

The estimate is that we will be

borrowing at around 2%.

0:25:190:25:22

If you borrow to invest,

which is what we say

0:25:220:25:24

we are going to do, whether it's

investing in

0:25:240:25:30

infrastructure or whether it's

investing in housing, you get a

0:25:300:25:33

return on that investment.

0:25:330:25:34

If you talk to merchant

banks about what

0:25:340:25:37

private sector investments

get out of interested

0:25:370:25:42

for instance, you're looking

at 8%, 10%.

0:25:420:25:50

So we are very clear

we would borrow to invest in things

0:25:500:25:53

like housing infrastructure.

0:25:530:25:53

And even Tories understand that.

0:25:530:25:55

His colleague, Sajid

Javid, was talking

0:25:550:25:56

about borrowing 50 billion

to invest in housing,

0:25:560:25:58

until he was slapped

down by Philip Hammond.

0:25:580:26:00

So yes we would borrow,

but we would get in

0:26:000:26:09

a return on that money

because we would be

0:26:090:26:11

investing in things

that

0:26:110:26:14

the community needs.

0:26:140:26:15

And why didn't you do that?

0:26:150:26:17

The truth is that

for many generations

0:26:170:26:19

of government of different colours,

we have not been building the number

0:26:190:26:21

of homes that we needed.

0:26:210:26:23

That has to be faced up to.

0:26:230:26:24

That is true.

0:26:240:26:25

Why didn't you do

what she suggested?

0:26:250:26:27

So...

0:26:270:26:28

What Sajid Javid suggested.

0:26:280:26:29

Diane suggested...

0:26:290:26:30

Sajid Javid suggested it.

0:26:300:26:32

Well, Diane suggested that we should

have, allow councils

0:26:320:26:34

to build council houses.

0:26:340:26:37

In the Budget that is precisely

what they have been not

0:26:370:26:40

just allowed, but encouraged to do.

0:26:400:26:43

There is £1 billion

that is going to be available

0:26:430:26:46

to councils for this.

0:26:460:26:48

And so far from having any objection

to councils building houses, I think

0:26:480:26:51

it is a fantastic thing.

0:26:510:26:52

In fact, there are more...

0:26:520:26:53

You're not freeing councils to

borrow as much as they would want?

0:26:530:26:56

No, it is part of the national debt.

0:26:560:26:58

That is the point she's making.

0:26:580:26:59

With low interest rates

you can afford to

0:26:590:27:01

borrow a lot more.

0:27:010:27:02

Well, they are being able to borrow.

0:27:020:27:04

They can't borrow what they want.

0:27:040:27:05

They can borrow £1 billion more.

0:27:050:27:07

It's not very much,

is it, for housing?

0:27:070:27:09

There are more houses

that have been built

0:27:090:27:11

in the last seven years than under

the entire period of Diane's

0:27:110:27:14

appeared in government.

0:27:140:27:15

That is tit-for-tat stuff.

0:27:150:27:16

The thing is, sorry, let me finish.

0:27:160:27:17

There's a big problem about housing.

0:27:170:27:19

You say there is.

0:27:190:27:20

All the speeches from the Tory

conference have said it.

0:27:200:27:22

When it comes to it,

what are we offered,

0:27:220:27:32

300,000 new houses

by 2022 or something?

0:27:320:27:33

It's nothing.

0:27:330:27:34

It's nothing to grab

the imagination are

0:27:340:27:36

confident people looking for houses.

0:27:360:27:37

APPLAUSE.

0:27:370:27:39

300,000 homes a year was the level

of house building that we

0:27:390:27:44

achieved when Harold Macmillan,

after the war, was prime minister.

0:27:440:27:47

That is what we need to do

to make a big difference.

0:27:470:27:50

We were a much smaller

country in those days.

0:27:500:27:52

300,000 a year is a lot.

0:27:520:27:54

But actually, we are

making big progress

0:27:540:27:57

compared to where we were after

the financial crisis.

0:27:570:28:00

The figures just for,

just imagine the last few

0:28:000:28:04

weeks, in the last year we build,

we added 217,000, that is getting up

0:28:040:28:09

to the level we need to,

but we have got further to go.

0:28:090:28:12

That is why, in very

difficult circumstances,

0:28:120:28:18

the money is not awash,

as it has been clear

0:28:180:28:20

from our discussion.

0:28:200:28:21

That's not what Diane said.

0:28:210:28:23

She says money is awash.

0:28:230:28:24

That £15 billion has

been found to invest

0:28:240:28:28

in housing is very important.

But let me pick up Diane's point.

0:28:280:28:31

This is the problem.

0:28:310:28:33

Tories talk about

building houses but

0:28:330:28:35

they are not houses that people

with average salaries can afford.

0:28:350:28:37

APPLAUSE.

0:28:370:28:40

No we can't.

0:28:400:28:41

All right.

0:28:410:28:44

We have to avoid this becoming

the House of Commons.

0:28:440:28:47

We have three other guests.

0:28:470:28:48

The removal of stamp

duty on house purchases

0:28:480:28:51

for first-time buyers

on

0:28:510:28:55

£300,000 more or less valued houses,

is a step in the right direction.

0:28:550:28:58

But I believe the green belt should

be built on and it should be built

0:28:580:29:01

on soon.

0:29:010:29:02

I think there is about 92%

of our land mass just not built on

0:29:020:29:06

at all.

0:29:060:29:07

Instead of talking about council

houses all the time, we need

0:29:070:29:09

to build on land we already

have that is not used.

0:29:090:29:12

Like new garden cities

like Milton Keynes, in the

0:29:120:29:14

70s, we should have more

projects like that.

0:29:140:29:18

It's slowed down because we won't

build on places you think

0:29:180:29:20

we should?

0:29:200:29:21

Yeah.

0:29:210:29:22

We should definitely like...

0:29:220:29:23

Milton Keynes was like

the 60s or the 70s.

0:29:230:29:25

Stuart Rose, what do you think?

0:29:250:29:27

Well, I think there is plenty

of brown space available

0:29:270:29:30

to build on as well,

I think we know that.

0:29:300:29:32

APPLAUSE

0:29:320:29:33

But the real issue is,

nobody is arguing, we need

0:29:330:29:36

to build more houses.

0:29:360:29:37

And what I say is, frankly,

as somebody who is from business,

0:29:370:29:39

is I've heard politicians,

and we heard from Greg,

0:29:390:29:42

from both parties for 50 years

telling us they are going to build

0:29:420:29:45

200, 300, 200, 300.

0:29:450:29:46

They never meet the targets.

0:29:460:29:47

They never put enough money in.

0:29:470:29:48

The real reason is there's not

enough joint infrastructure,

0:29:480:29:51

incentives in place for councils

to build social housing,

0:29:510:29:53

or for builders to build affordable

housing, or for that to be done

0:29:530:29:56

in a way which is seamless.

0:29:560:29:58

And I'm afraid, also,

which goes back to the skills

0:29:580:30:00

conversation we had,

we actually don't have enough

0:30:000:30:02

trained people at the moment.

0:30:020:30:04

One of the reasons we can't

build houses is we don't

0:30:040:30:06

have enough builders.

0:30:060:30:07

And we need to train builders.

0:30:070:30:11

What about the freedom of councils

to build houses in their own areas?

0:30:110:30:14

And also for them to borrow enough

money to be able to do so.

0:30:140:30:17

You think they should be allowed to?

0:30:170:30:19

Yes.

0:30:190:30:21

But he says they can't

be allowed to.

0:30:210:30:23

Well, anything can be

done, David, if we want.

0:30:230:30:25

We could change the rules.

0:30:250:30:26

Greg, why don't

you change the rules?

0:30:260:30:28

I'll come to you.

0:30:280:30:29

Just briefly.

0:30:290:30:30

Try and explain what the constraint

is that stops you doing

0:30:300:30:33

what Stuart Rose is suggesting.

0:30:330:30:36

The constraint is this,

that we have one of the highest

0:30:360:30:39

levels of debt, still,

in the Western world.

0:30:390:30:41

It is well over 85%

of our national income.

0:30:410:30:47

And the trouble is that you can't

just borrow more and more and more

0:30:470:30:53

and add to that debt

without interest rates rising,

0:30:530:30:55

and without lenders not

being willing to support you.

0:30:550:31:00

And if you do that, you pay more

interest on that debt.

0:31:000:31:02

So you think the Labour policy...

0:31:020:31:04

Yes.

0:31:040:31:05

Hang on, you think...

0:31:050:31:07

Labour is always saying,

as Diane just said, interest rates

0:31:070:31:11

are very low at the moment.

0:31:110:31:13

You're saying if they do build more,

interest rates will rise.

0:31:130:31:15

Diane, equally, says you make

money on what you invest.

0:31:150:31:18

Interest rates are at

a near historic low,

0:31:180:31:20

as we know, but already today,

the interest, the annual interest

0:31:200:31:24

on our national debt is,

last year was £48 billion.

0:31:240:31:29

If I tell you that the police

budget is £12 billion,

0:31:290:31:34

I don't think that adding more

to our interest payments,

0:31:340:31:37

which would have to be

at the expense of public services,

0:31:370:31:39

is the responsible way to go.

0:31:390:31:41

Of course we would like to have

more house building,

0:31:410:31:43

but we have to be responsible.

0:31:430:31:46

Bernard.

0:31:460:31:48

For me, I think at the moment

clearly we have a massive problem.

0:31:480:31:51

We need 200,000 houses

a year for a while.

0:31:510:31:53

And the response at the moment,

I think, is quite incremental.

0:31:530:31:56

20,000 is nowhere near.

0:31:560:31:59

And there are two

effects, obviously.

0:31:590:32:01

One is that the price of houses that

are there are getting

0:32:010:32:04

more and more expensive.

0:32:040:32:05

Some people haven't got houses.

0:32:050:32:06

There was a report by

Mark Easton on the BBC News

0:32:060:32:09

about four weeks ago now.

0:32:090:32:10

This happens to be London,

and there were families

0:32:100:32:12

who were living in a pub.

0:32:120:32:14

Single room, sharing one room.

0:32:140:32:17

It just looked...

0:32:170:32:19

It didn't look awful,

it was awful that in this country,

0:32:190:32:22

in this day and age,

that was happening.

0:32:220:32:25

I'm sure nobody wants that,

but that's a pretty

0:32:250:32:27

awful state to get to.

0:32:270:32:28

So of all the things

that we might need a tsar for,

0:32:280:32:32

you might need someone to grab this

and then do lots of

0:32:320:32:34

things, not one thing.

0:32:340:32:35

And I think I agree with this

gentleman over here all right,

0:32:350:32:38

it's good for the 300,000.

0:32:380:32:40

But alone that won't do it.

0:32:400:32:41

I don't think a billion's

going to do it.

0:32:410:32:43

Things like infrastructure.

0:32:430:32:44

It's the job of government to put

in roads and rail so that builders

0:32:440:32:47

can build around it.

0:32:470:32:49

Then you will get things to happen.

0:32:490:32:50

You can tax incentivise it.

0:32:500:32:51

You can innovate.

0:32:510:32:52

You don't have to carry on building

buildings in the same way.

0:32:520:32:55

You have prefab buildings.

0:32:550:32:57

You can get top-end range

houses now, prefabs.

0:32:570:32:58

Why can't we get mid-range houses?

0:32:580:33:00

You can speed up planning.

0:33:000:33:05

I agree with rent controls,

provided it was an interim measure.

0:33:050:33:07

I think if you disturb

the market too long,

0:33:070:33:09

I don't think that's

wise for anybody.

0:33:090:33:11

But you could do it for three

to five years while some

0:33:110:33:14

of these things took effect.

0:33:140:33:15

But I do think it needs

a comprehensive plan and it doesn't

0:33:150:33:18

feel at the minute comprehensive.

0:33:180:33:19

And you've got a lot

of people who are losing,

0:33:190:33:22

well, their life chances,

kids, as they are growing

0:33:220:33:24

through pretty awful circumstances.

0:33:240:33:25

I think we need to do

something pretty quickly.

0:33:250:33:27

OK.

0:33:270:33:28

Let's go to the audience.

0:33:280:33:30

You, sir.

0:33:300:33:32

I think it's an absolute disgrace

for the minister to rely on this

0:33:320:33:35

argument about lack of money.

0:33:350:33:37

He ought to live in Colchester.

0:33:370:33:40

There is no infrastructure

here to support the houses.

0:33:400:33:45

APPLAUSE

0:33:450:33:52

The hospital can't cope,

the roads can't cope.

0:33:520:33:55

Just explain what you mean.

0:33:550:33:57

Well, Colchester is probably one of

the largest areas of house building

0:33:570:34:03

in the south-east of England.

0:34:030:34:06

That's the first point.

0:34:060:34:08

It has had a record

number of houses.

0:34:080:34:12

It outperforms all the Essex

towns by a country mile.

0:34:120:34:16

And yet the council

here is determined to

0:34:160:34:18

build 920 homes a year.

0:34:180:34:25

The hospital can't cope,

the roads can't cope.

0:34:250:34:26

The schools can't cope.

0:34:260:34:29

APPLAUSE

0:34:290:34:34

I'm sorry.

0:34:340:34:35

So you think that the government's

ambitions are overambitious

0:34:350:34:38

in terms of Colchester,

that too many houses

0:34:380:34:40

are being built?

0:34:400:34:42

Yes.

0:34:420:34:43

They're trying to lump more

houses on Colchester.

0:34:430:34:47

This is what the latest

white paper is saying,

0:34:470:34:50

that Colchester Borough Council have

rejected that approach.

0:34:500:34:54

But they want, because Colchester

has delivered so many houses

0:34:540:34:56

in the past, they want to lump more

houses on Colchester.

0:34:560:35:00

And the people of Colchester

are completely fed up with it.

0:35:000:35:03

OK.

0:35:030:35:05

Dreda.

0:35:050:35:09

That's very interesting.

0:35:090:35:11

I completely agree there has

to be infrastructure.

0:35:110:35:14

You can't just build, you have

to service your actual community.

0:35:140:35:17

But I keep going back

to the question about stamp duty.

0:35:170:35:22

And before I came today,

I went back to where I grew up,

0:35:220:35:25

which is a very poor part of east

London.

0:35:250:35:27

And I went online to look at some

houses on one of those online

0:35:270:35:31

websites that collates

all the information about all

0:35:310:35:34

the property being sold.

0:35:340:35:37

42 pages, 25 properties a page.

0:35:370:35:39

I got to page 20 before I found

anything that was under a million.

0:35:390:35:46

And when I got to page 42,

there were no properties that

0:35:460:35:49

were 500,000 or less.

0:35:490:35:54

This is the reality

for lots of people who live

0:35:540:35:57

in some of our cities,

particularly places like London.

0:35:570:36:00

So for me, and I'm completely

in agreement with Bernard, Greg,

0:36:000:36:03

the government have got

to have an overall strategy.

0:36:030:36:08

And I feel it should be a strategy

that stops talking about housing.

0:36:080:36:11

It has to include rent.

0:36:110:36:12

We need to start

talking about homes.

0:36:120:36:14

Let's have a home strategy.

0:36:140:36:15

If we start talking about people

need homes where they live,

0:36:150:36:18

where they can have roots,

where their children can

0:36:180:36:21

grow up, it just changes

the narrative completely.

0:36:210:36:24

Because very often we think

about housing, we think bricks

0:36:240:36:27

and mortar, and very often

we are actually thinking

0:36:270:36:29

about investment.

0:36:290:36:31

Let's start thinking about making

homes for people in Britain.

0:36:310:36:40

We're more than halfway through,

well over half way through.

0:36:400:36:42

I want to go to other subjects

but I want to take a couple more

0:36:420:36:46

points from our audience.

0:36:460:36:47

The woman there.

0:36:470:36:48

I feel like I'm part

of the generation that is never

0:36:480:36:51

going to be able to afford

my own home.

0:36:510:36:53

I have a fairly good salary,

I pay a very expensive rent

0:36:530:36:56

which means I cannot save.

0:36:560:36:57

These 920 houses that Colchester

are committed to building,

0:36:570:36:59

I'd love to be able to afford one.

0:36:590:37:01

I can't save for a deposit.

0:37:010:37:03

I could easily pay for a mortgage.

0:37:030:37:05

It would be a lot

cheaper than my rent.

0:37:050:37:07

APPLAUSE

0:37:070:37:08

The man at the very

back, behind you.

0:37:080:37:10

At the very back.

0:37:100:37:12

Of course a lack of house building

is one of the main contributors

0:37:120:37:15

to the housing crisis,

but what's the government

0:37:150:37:17

going to do about land banking,

which is often overlooked,

0:37:170:37:20

where effectively landlords profit

from people being homeless?

0:37:200:37:25

OK.

0:37:250:37:29

You can just briefly answer John,

because we've got to move on.

0:37:290:37:33

John is absolutely right in saying

that infrastructure has

0:37:330:37:35

to accompany house building.

0:37:350:37:37

It goes to Bernard's point

that the package that Sajid Javid

0:37:370:37:39

announced included infrastructure

to support house building.

0:37:390:37:42

And to the gentleman's point there,

he is absolutely right.

0:37:420:37:46

We've had 322,000 planning

permissions, but only about half

0:37:460:37:48

have been built out.

0:37:480:37:50

So again, what my colleague has

proposed is that there are powers

0:37:500:37:53

to allow councils to get those homes

built, rather than just sitting

0:37:530:37:57

with planning permission.

0:37:570:38:01

That's why you do need to bring it

together into a strategy.

0:38:010:38:04

There's not one single panacea.

0:38:040:38:05

You need to work across fronts.

0:38:050:38:15

I'm afraid at this point we had to

curtail this edition of Question

0:38:160:38:21

Time. A member of the audience was

taken ill and could not safely be

0:38:210:38:25

moved, so we had to bring the

programme to a close.

0:38:250:38:28

moved, so we had to bring the

programme to a close. Let me tell

0:38:280:38:30

you about next Thursday. Question

Time is coming from Scarborough and

0:38:300:38:34

we have Labour MP Chuka Umunna,

former Greek finance minister Yanis

0:38:340:38:39

Varoufakis, and the new leader of

Ukip, Henry Bolton on the panel. The

0:38:390:38:44

week after that we will be in

Swansea. Call us if you would like

0:38:440:38:52

to be in either audience, or go to

the website and follow the

0:38:520:38:55

instructions. Question Time extra

time follows on five live. Once

0:38:550:39:02

again, apologies for this curtailed

edition of Question Time. Until next

0:39:020:39:07

Thursday, from Colchester, good

night.

0:39:070:39:12

David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Colchester.

The panel includes secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clark, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Hogan-Howe, former CEO of Marks and Spencer Lord Rose and crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell.


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