Episode 10 The Big Questions

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Episode 10

Nicky Campbell presents live debate from the University of Kent in Canterbury. He asks: Do the brightest do better at grammar schools? And is using drones ethical?

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Today on The Big Questions - the impact of grammar schools,


the ethics of drones, and pruning the Church of England.


Good morning, I'm Nicky Campbell, welcome to The Big Questions.


Today we're live from the University of Kent in Canterbury.


Welcome, everybody, to The Big Questions.


On Friday, the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, was heckled


by angry head teachers when she claimed that grammar


schools help close the attainment gap for disadvantaged children.


The Prime Minister has called it her "personal mission" to end


what she calls the "brutal and unacceptable" facts


of school selection based on income - specifically,


who can afford to buy property in the catchment areas of the best


?320 million was set aside in this week's Budget to fund


140 new free schools, many of which could become grammars.


Here in Kent, the county council never abandoned


So, it is a particularly good place to ask our first Big Question -


do the brightest do better at grammar schools?


A good moral and ethical debate, the greatest good and the greatest


number against giving some children the opportunity to achieve


something. Sian Griffiths, you had a daughter there, what did it give


your daughter being at grammar school, what was the essential


difference? Yes, my daughter did go, she went to the girl's Grammar


school, I was quite mixed because I went to a comprehensive which was


coeducational. She was very lucky, she went to one of the best grammar


schools in the country, Henrietta Barnett in north London. What it


gave her, not only did it give her an amazing


exam results, she went to a very good university and is now a lawyer,


but what it really gave her, this is the thing I thought was amazing


which I had not anticipated, it gave her peer group, a group of


girlfriends who are also in their 20s now who she is still very close


to and who she grew up with in her school, and we think about grammar


schools and often think, yes, they have fantastic academic results with


A and A* grades, many of them go on to Oxford and Cambridge, but


grubbing up as a teenager it is important that your peer group is a


group that you can fit into and grow upward. What was it about that peer


group that enabled her to fit in? She is obviously quite academic, she


was a very booky girl, not keen on sport. They were similar, academic,


aspirational, not particularly keen on sport either, so she never felt


out of place, and I know other children who are equally bright who


went to comprehensive schools, and I'm thinking of one in particular,


he went to a comprehensive School, he was very bright and his peer


group was a group which valued football, football was the thing, if


you were good at football venue fitted in, you were the star, if you


were good at maths you didn't fit in, so he downplayed his maths


ability, played up his football ability. Embarrassed to be good at


maths? Embarrassed, and as a result he does not have the confidence and


the sense that it is great to be academically good. A different


ethos? Wanda, what about that, a different ethos, giving


working-class and middle-class kids a chance to achieve in that


environment? I think that is a great experience and I'm pleased your


daughter was able to have that, but surely we want that for all of our


children? By giving these resources to grammar schools and encouraging a


small amount of poor but bright children to go to these schools,


when we know very few of them do so, we know if your socioeconomic


background, if you come from a more deprived background, you have around


6% chance of going to a background -- going to a grammar school if


there are grammar schools in that area but it is great when children


find a school that can nurture them, feel at home, have a good group of


friends, but don't we want that for all children? You are applauding?! I


agree, there are lots of bright kids in this country, many from


working-class backgrounds, who do not get the chance to fulfil their


potential, and that... Would this be our way? It could be, we have a


small number of grammar schools, 163, and thousands of state


secondary schools, so it is a tiny percentage, so most kids in this


country don't even get the chance to apply to a grammar school, there are


just no grammar schools in their counties. At a time when grammar


schools were at their apex, there were more working-class kids


succeeding in those professions than ever before or since, shouldn't we


think about that? This experiment, selective children alone, was tried


for 20 years, I was an education generalist, it was a disaster, it


just didn't work. The idea of going backwards to a time when two thirds


of children at age 11 were told, no, you will not enjoy the benefits of


grammar school, we cannot go back to those days. The nonsense of it at


the moment, some bit to do with parental choice. Parents don't use


grammar schools, grammar schools choose parents. The reality is


selection by the school. At the moment it is often on income, houses


are 60% more in catchment areas where there are good schools. That


is a real problem with comprehensives, no doubt about it,


but the idea you will solve it by selecting children at age 11, a


cruel age to select children for their future, putting them in an


establishment which inevitably leaves out working-class kids, very


few working-class kids go to grammar schools, this is a way of


privileging some children, they are very good schools, I can't argue


with that, but to say we can only afford to educate a third of the


population, under reforms only 1% under these particular schools, is a


nonsense. Chris McGovern, do you want to come in, the campaign for


real education? I'm a secretary modern schoolboy, Simon is a posh


public school boy. This is important because people Newsbeat on this,


let's have some experience. David Cameron reminded his party


conference 18 months ago that this country has the worst rate of social


mobility in the world, that is... He also said a selective system will


not raise standards. Let's look at that, the crowning achievement of


the comprehensive school system is a more divided society.


Children who are able to buy into, parents who can buy into a good


catchment area go to a good school or the independent sector. We need


to educate children in line with aptitude, some children are


academic, they need an academic education such as is provided by


grammar schools. Children of the more vocational orientation, more


technically oriented, need good technical schools. We have to get


away from the snobbery that a grammar education is superior to a


technical education. Educating children in line with how much their


parents can afford... And the reason for that, and major reason, never


mentioned, as to why so few poor children go to grammar school is


because the primary schools are not putting these children forward for


grammar school, not tutoring them for the 11 plus, so the only way to


get to a grammar school is to employ a private tutor. We need lots more


grammar schools, we need them in deprived areas, we need to give


children the capacity to achieve to their maximum and get


away from the idea for heaven 's sake that somehow Charles Dickens is


superior to Isambard Kingdom Brunel. We need both, the rest of the world


have academic pathway and the occasional pathway, they argue when


it is done, 11 in Switzerland, 15 in China. Maximise the attitude of


children, some need grammar school, some need vocation, and


comprehensives can be very poor at that. Let's go to the audience, I


know there were lots of views. A persuasive argument? No, I grew up


on a council estate, my father was a hard-working manual worker, on the


dole, then disabled in my youth. I went to a comprehensive and then,


somehow, found myself studying in Oxford. The amount of snobbery that


came and the amount of ignorance that came from people who had been


to private school but sometimes also grammar schools because of people


being separated out into social groups or even the supposedly


educational preferences. Education as well as the academic and


technical side has to involve meeting different people,


experiencing different cultures, and this is one of the problems with


private schools, single sex schools, they don't allow people to


experience diversity of life, to learn from each other. We need to


segregate people less, not more. If we had more grammar schools there


would be fewer private schools. And don't forget Wendy grammar school


system was pushed to one side and the comprehensive system came in,


they had to abolish the O-level exam, the grammar school exam,


because it was too hard but we still send that to Singapore and they are


top of the world. We have a dumbed down exam system introduced for the


comprehensive intake. Let's hear from the audience. I will be with


you in a second, some dis- behaviour in the classroom! You are your last


warning! Good morning. I would just like to say I don't think that all


children that go to comprehensive schools don't achieve. All by


children, I must admit the 11 plus and didn't quite get their... Was


that a disappointing day? It was, because I paid for a tutor so I was


disappointed. However, now I have one at university, which is here,


two are A* students, so they are in a comprehensive school, so even


though we are putting down the comprehensive system, I went to


comprehensive, my sister went to grammar, she is in the same


position. Parents are very important, the situation at home.


Yes, but they are happy, I don't think it should be put down as much


as we are putting them down, the teachers do really good jobs.


Gentleman there in the leather jacket, hello. I ended up going to a


secondary school in a year that they decided to experiment with going on


teacher's recommendation and it failed me completely. I would have


done much better in a school that pushed me much harder to take


advantage of my natural inclination, head and shoulders above my peers


academically. But even back in 1999, the independent reported a study


that showed that less academically inclined students did better in a


comprehensive rather than a secondary, but students that would


have been selected for a grammar school did as well or better in a


comprehensive as well. So I don't really see, all these years on, the


debate is even open the question. I think it is a lot down to the


attitude of the child, and not the school that you go into. On that


point, Simon Jenkins, what do we do about the children who are


exceptionally bright and might achieve great things in their life


but are in homes where there are no books, no aspiration? The question


is at what stage do you make these decisions? 11 is ludicrously soon,


far too early, and it is cruel. I failed the 11 plus. The fact is, it


is far too soon to make any of these decisions. What is aptitude?


Children are assessed all the time these days. Perpetual motion. 13,


15, 16... You have to make a decision in childhood. The comments


made about aptitude what is important here, and this is an


education which is bright for the right children in that case. I think


that having selection for other kinds of aptitudes would be... Who


are the wrong children? They are not wrong, that is one of the things,


saying the children at age 11, you have failed, you're not saying that,


it is not the right education for them, the aptitude those children


have is not yours. When the Labour Government introduce specialist


schools, I thought that could be a breakthrough, they said they would


have money the specialist schools and thought, great, you could have


sports specialism or maybe computers or science, whatever, but they


wouldn't allow selection on the basis of ability for those things so


you had not the sports specialist school with the best football teams


around, it just had the best goalposts around. If we worked to


make aptitude, the children's aptitude, fit the education system


and the education system fit their aptitude, to look at the vocational


and technical education, and great emphasis is laid on that here in


Kent, I have to say, by the county council, I am a county councillor


and have four children at the grammar school, that would be taking


their education in the right direction for them. And can I just


say, whether the brightest do best, the attainment gap in grammar


schools between deprived children and the higher achieving colleagues


in the school is very, very much smaller in grammar schools, so they


are good, and what we are working on in this county is to try to get


better access for the deprived children and there are numbers of


measures... Dominic Grieve, David Cameron was opposed to grammar


schools, Mrs Thatcher got rid of swathes of grammar schools. The


legal profession, prior to your career as a politician, is so


dominated by private schools, the figures are extraordinary, 74% of


high profile judges in the appeals court went to independent schools.


How do you get through that, By bringing on Jordan from


relatively poor backgrounds and nurturing them. There are different


ways. The grammar school system was quite effective in doing it.


Simon Jenkins, I agree, the 11-plus is a blunt instrument.


You can have a selection system is not wholly reliant on the 11-plus


which relies on greater flexibility. Is there an advantage in bringing


talented children, particularly with academic talents, together in one


place, does it create a critical mass which is beneficial?


The evidence is overwhelming. I have grammars in my own constituency


which is a middle-class area and one reason why they survive is because


the middle-class agitated actively to protect the grammars.


Where you need schools which will do that nurturing our in deeply


deprived areas, from which they have totally disappeared.


I am not against academies, I have seen magnificent academies and


visited them. There are downsides to a selective system. Unless you get


it right, your secondary schools will suffer. That is inescapable. I


have one which is outstanding... Is it worth it? A difficult


question. Looking at the overall performance, it is significantly


better than the competitive system. Not to say you don't get downsides.


It is possible to address that. How would you address it?


Research shows in areas with grammar schools, the state schools do worse.


This is a small number of poor but bright if you want to use that


phrase pupils... Why'd you not want to use that


phrase? It is the port issue as well. And


taking a few of them out, the disadvantage for the other pupils.


The OECD says selective schooling increases inequality and has a


negative effect on our children. I come back to the point, this is a


small number of people you want to scoop out, to the detriment of the


rest of our children. You are talking about...


Northern Ireland has a grammar school system with consistently the


best public school examination results in the UK. Hours of running


three years behind South Korea. We have to improve. We are so far


behind, bottom of the lead for literacy according to the OECD.


Because politicians tinker with education every time there is new


Government. They put new assessments in. We have a teacher retention


problem, they are leaving the education system in droves because


they are so stressed, they are stressing our children come our


six-year-olds are being tested. There are unprecedented levels...


If we are testing so much, we don't need the 11-plus!


I am from Northern Ireland, we are brilliant shall be debate that?


My problem is, grammars are failing the working class is completely. How


you get selected when you live in a household with lots of books... I


was sent to a technical college because of the grammar school


system, I wasn't ready for it, I was a naughty kid. I only had three


years of secondary education. I am now a professor with three pH D is.


In those days I didn't get through because I wasn't considered to be


academic and likely am an academic. A late developer. It is the


selection process. At 11, I was not ready. That is a real problem. The


other problem is the ins and the outs, if you are in grammar school,


it is one thing. It is the others you need to worry about. We need to


get the selection process right. Better if we took this notion of


grammar school and made all schools the same.


Simon Jenkins, we select for music and performing arts ability, even


maths and languages, we select for sport, why not for academic ability?


All schools stream. Selection takes place throughout life.


We don't stream for all subjects. The problem is whether you select at


11, that is a decent time to make this decision. This was tested the


20 years, it is hugely researched. It was not a success politically.


People were screaming to get rid of the 11-plus. The idea of bringing it


back, there are 11 cases with grammar schools, almost everyone


goes to competitive schools and it works on the whole. We can dig up


figures somewhere in Singapore... We don't have a bad education in


Britain. Public schools dominate the


professions. If we didn't have this system, if we did have this system,


go with me on this, if it were to be be imposed, what would be the best


way to select for grammars? What about at 14?


15 it right. You start selecting at that stage. But you split up


communities at 11 and do everything wrong.


It is not a good idea. And offering transfers at a number


of different points, it is wrong it should be done at 11 and I there


after. No, no... Please.


We will be back with you later. I know you have other contributions.


I agree it shouldn't just be at 11, the Government is looking at the


paucity of 13. I like that model where if you have a chain of academy


schools, one would be a grammar school. If you have bright kids in


particular subjects in the other schools they could move into the


grammar school for particular subjects at 13 or 14, whenever you


were showing attitude. I want to pick up something from Simon that we


have a good competitive system. We absolutely do not. I feel


passionately about this. Sir Michael will show the last chief inspector


did two reports, one in 2013, he looked at children's performance at


11 in primary schools on national tests in maths and English and found


there were thousands of children performing above-average com hitting


level five. A lot were white working-class boys. He tracked those


kids and by 16 they should have been getting a grades in nonselective


schools where they went to, competences. They did not. One in


the Boufal didn't even get a B grade. They weren't going on to


universities or become lawyers or journalists or the nice jobs -- one


in four. This system isn't working for working-class kids, not even the


most middle-class kids. It has to change. Thank you very


much indeed for all your thoughts. If you have something


to say about that debate, log on to bbc.co.uk/thebigquestions,


and follow the link to where you can We're also debating live this


morning from the University of Kent in Canterbury,


is using drones ethical? And, should the Church of England


be cut down to size? So, get tweeting or emailing


on those topics now, or send us any other ideas


or thoughts you may This week a report into a near-miss


between a ?60 million RAF Chinook helicopter coming into land at RAF


Odiham and a domestic drone revealed the helicopter was just


130 feet from disaster. The unknown drone pilot


had completely failed to monitor its flight path to avoid


collisions with other aircraft. And last week, a Royal United


Services Institute conference into remote warfare said drones


raised tensions in countries like Pakistan, where


they are used for surveillance. And there's growing evidence


that the terrorist groups being watched are now using drones


themselves as weapon carriers. Drones may keep our pilots


and troops safer, but do they raise bigger questions of just war


principles and human rights? Well, air Marshal Black Robertson,


good to have you here. Lots of people very suspicious of drones. A


UN special rapporteur for the encouraged a video game mentality in


operators and said they are open to abuse, and also the intimidate and


alienate local populations. What you say to those people?


I couldn't disagree more they encourage what was described as a


video game mentality. In my experience, the RAF people who


operate these and I presume that is the error you want to debate, are


about the most professional individuals you could come across,


their training is huge, the way they are monitored, the control that


exists is about as tight as it has ever been in any form of conflict. I


would like to dispel that rumour. As to whether they are ethical, it


depends what you mean. If ethical means doing the right thing, then


surveillance certainly saves lives. If you of to save soldiers's lives,


there was a soldier out there who doesn't want to know what is over


the next hill, doesn't want to be safe out there. The way of providing


that safe environment is by having a drone monitoring what is going on.


Let us be clear. Drones spent most of their time in the RAF sense


providing surveillance which saves lives.


Emily, you are back from Afghanistan?


What did you see? I think it is an interesting question, I am


sympathetic to a lot of those points. What was really interesting


to see was the comments following a 2010 investigation into civilians


who wrongfully killed in Afghanistan by a drone strike. The people in


charge of writing the report from the air force pointed at this


tendency to have technology and to feel almost like you are more


secure, it is possible to know everything, to cut down on civilian


casualties because you have more detergents.


The Senate mean position? In many ways, the more precision you have,


the greater your ability to cut down on civilian casualties, the better.


But where drones walk you into this scenario will you get a false sense


of security about how much it is possible to know.


You are watching a very small subset of circumstances from the screen,


putting a huge amount of response batik on people gathering that


intelligence to understand what is happening on the ground.


What about the perception from the ground, what did people on a grand


thing about what is out there? I was going through my photos from


Kabul. In almost all you have these big surveillance balloons hovering.


You can see them over all the major airfields. I asked my drive about


this, saying, what are they watching? He said, they are


everywhere, we don't know. They were a novelty, now we are used to it.


They are a good navigational tool! What is interesting is the Jones


debate in the UK and how much it represents a shift on a strategic


level towards more secretive warfare. In many cases in area...


What transparency do you want? There are other countries using drones,


look at the US, campaign has been controversial. One thing you can say


is we know a lot more about the policies surrounding the US use of


drones for the thumb strikes. They've released a presidential


policy guidance setting out the criteria you need to have in place


before a drone strike becomes permissible, a framework report in


2016 which set out which groups were permissible targets. We don't have


any of this for the UK. And the impact on the people, you


say they have got used to it. Is there a consequence in terms of


psychology on the ground? That is the strange thing. The drone


programme is so relatively new, it will be hard to know the


psychological impact the people on the ground and on the drone flies.


And transparency, what do we need to do?


We could do with being a lot more transparent. My position would be,


the RAF are a lot more well-controlled in the US -- than


the US. I have spoken to pilots on both sides. It is one thing, we have


to make a distinction. It is one thing between the use of force in an


official conflict zones. The drone allows too much flexibility. In


non-conflicts owns, Pakistan isn't an official conflict zone, and the


Yemen, then you have slippage. The laws of war, humanitarian laws, that


is not... Let me finish... Human rights law applies and now we have a


different idea about the use of force and what is proportionality,


the right to surrender, the right to due process. We are killing people


in these sounds, extra judicial targeting during which is not


acceptable to me. There is no option to surrender, is


there? The point about suggesting the UK is involved in Pakistan or


Yemen is totally wrong. I was talking generally. That is the point


of the debate, it is so easy to say something and that gets carried out.


No, it is not true. Everything the RAF does, everything the UK does, is


incredibly tightly controlled, and that would go back to appoint... So


no extrajudicial killings in non-conflict zones is what you are


saying? I did not say there were no extrajudicial killings... In


non-conflict zones? Hang on, let me pick up on that. I can see you


shifting in your seat, Symon. If al-Baghdadi, the powerful, absolute,


undeniably very charismatic leader of the so-called Islamic State were


to be killed by a strike from a drone, would you have a problem with


that? I'd have a problem with the fact the drone would almost


certainly kill other people nearby. The idea of drone is some sort of


magic weapon that can target somebody, I think throughout history


weapons have been invented that are supposed to be more precise, more


ethical, more reliable. When the machine gun was invented, people


said it was so horrific it would put people off the wall and there would


be no more war as a result. We get this every time there is some sort


of new weapon and we're asked to believe, naively, in this magical


targeting whereby a weapon can just kill one person, whereas even by


conservative estimates it is suggested around 2000 civilians have


been killed in Iraq and over the last couple of years by western


drones. What do you say on that point? How was that more ethical


than being killed by other reside bomber? I don't see drones, they are


targeted, much more targeted than most other weapons available, but


exactly the same criteria is applied to the use of drones and lethal


strikes as any other form of weaponry. The idea that just because


you have drones you are moving into a new legal area is mistaken. The


UK's use of drones for legal strikes has to be informed by domestic law,


international law and human rights law. In everything done, including


necessity and proportionality. In relation to any action taking place.


It is important to understand that. That is not to say everything will


always be got right all you can never have collateral damage, but


all those things have two be factored in in exactly the same way


as if you were putting troops in on the ground to do exactly the same


task, from that point of view it is not some secret weapon. If 2000


people were killed by a suicide bomber we would call that a


horrendous atrocities. 2000 civilians haven't been killed...


Even if it was only 200. If those people have been killed by Western


drones, they are not collateral damage, they are real people with


real lives. I agree about that, any death of an innocent civilian is


regrettable. I'm afraid Wall produces massive collateral damage


and, in the past, we have seen examples of it both in wars we have


fought like the Second World War or indeed the Russians' behaviour in


supporting the Syrian regime in taking back Aleppo, which shows a


willingness to use indiscriminate force. In comparison, the point I


would make is that actually the use of drones for lethal force by the


United Kingdom is much more targeted and much less likely to cause


collateral damage... Do you have that trust? We are always told that


of course the Russians have committed horrendous atrocities in


Syria, I don't deny that for a moment, but war is always justified


on the grounds that the other side have committed atrocities and we are


just behaving defensively, that is how all wars throughout history have


been justified. It is never believable, it always turns out


there are atrocities on both sides and shortly after hundreds of years


of this lie that violence can solve things it is about time we stopped


believing it. I'm slightly perplexed at why we're having this debate is


now regarding the usage of drones against civilian and military


targets. Did we have this debate when Yugoslavia was bombed by bomber


planes? When Dresden was bombed? Was there a debate in medieval times


when Trevor Shays and catapults were used against fortresses with


civilians inside? These kinds of tactics have been going on the


centuries, as long as human warfare has been around, so I personally


believe that the usage of drones in modern wars is just an inevitable


consequence of humanity entering a new stage of warfare, entering a


stage of unmanned vehicles, Robotics. In the long term I support


the use of drones because it is safer for our troops and, yes, the


enemy will also start using drones to counter us, that is the nature of


warfare, one side becomes more advanced... And it keeps boots,


Simon Jenkins, off the ground, as that gentleman said, good for our


troops? It is a drastic extension of the sniper principle, we can take


somebody out, but the question is because it is such distance, a


wholly different strategic theatre enters the argument. Why are you


killing that particular person? In the case of a British citizen in


Syria killed because it was thought he would support terrorism, that is


a tenuous way of killing someone and innocent people around him. The


trouble with drones is it induces armies to behave much more


irrationally than they would otherwise behave, we are operating


in countries we are not at war with. Also the killing of a particular


person, you will probably have to negotiate eventually and every time


we assassinate these people we make it more difficult eventually... I


think the drone attacks in Afghanistan have made a huge


difference and disrupted Al-Qaeda as a formation and made it very


difficult for them to operate. The numbers of civilians are an


exaggeration. The bureau of investigative journalism, which has


awards from Amnesty International so it is not pro-government, has put


the numbers of civilians killed by drone strikes as about 100 last year


in America compared to... There is an important legal issue here. That


is a problem with warfare. I couldn't agree more with that. They


league at issue here is where the flip between the laws of war and


international humanitarian law and human rights law, that is when we


are attacking countries we are not in official conflict with. The


tipping point, the UK along with others is dire looting the notion of


what is an imminent threat, what do we need in terms of our defence and


quite often it is foot soldiers of Al-Qaeda loading a few rifles into a


truck and they get bombed, but they are not an immediate imminent


threat. An imminent threat used to be when you had a big armed force


against us on our borders but now it is a few foot soldiers and that is


the key issue here. But you have to bear in mind one of the problems of


globalisation and the Internet is a person can sit thousands of miles


from the United Kingdom actively participating in a potential


conspiracy to kill people directly in the United Kingdom itself. I


agree with you that this is creating grey areas and we need to think very


carefully about what we do, but, as I say, the framework, actually, is


there. Ultimately if the Government justified the drone strike in Iraq


it was a chapter of Article 51 of the United Nations the right to self


defence. International humanitarian law, yes. You are entitled under


international humanitarian law to take military action in self defence


against people is located in another country. Of course it is a very,


very brave step to take and you are likely to have it crawled over when


you have done it, which is what is happening... It is some new


illegality. If Isis operatives are loading Kalashnikovs into the back


of a band, getting rid of them, taking them out which is the phrase


people use, is that justified? If you take the view that the entire


operation of Isis constitute a threat justifying the use of force


under article 51 of the UN Charter or legitimate aid of the Iraqi


government in dealing with a conflict, you have a legal base for


taking action against all their operatives. The fact is, these


countries do not threaten Britain. One or two people in these countries


might threaten to explode a bomb in Britain, yes. It is not an


existential threat to Britain, this is an extension of the concept of


defence into what is effectively a tax, the Ministry of Defence should


pick up the Ministry of attack. It is aggression against people a long


way from here who do not threaten others at all and one of the


consequences of the development of these new sophisticated weapons, we


cannot resist using them. We are out of time on it, but I will give you


the last word, it will be on this... I want to ask you about domestic


use, that was one of the things, sorry to curtail your thought, hold


it for another time! More regulation? We need more regulation


for the flying of these things, we have just been running a conference


on the use of drones taking supplies into conflict zones and disaster


areas, delivering medicines, nothing about the technology itself, but I'm


very concerned about two things, one is the increasing autonomy of the


systems and I'm on a campaign to stop the autonomous use of weapons


because that is a no no but also the expanding use by police, not in the


UK so much for surveillance, but in South Africa they are using it


against striking miners to fire pepper spray, paintball is... And


using it there as well to stop poachers. That is true, but this


company, Desert Storm, is only selling in units of 50 and has built


a new factory in Omagh and Brazil, said this is a concern about


peaceful protest, what is evil protest under human rights law, it


is a bit vague. We have to finish but what I have to say, when you


were talking about regulations for domestic use, everybody on the front


row was nodding and I have never seen that before in my life!


You can join in all this morning's debates by logging


on to bbc.co.uk/the big questions and following the link


Or you can tweet using the hashtag #bbctbq.


Tell us what you think about our last Big Question too -


should the Church of England be cut down to size?


And if you'd like to apply to be in the audience


at a future show, you can email audiencetbq@mentorn.tv.


We're in Cardiff next week, Oxford on March 26th,


Since the murder in the cathedral of Thomas Becket, Archbishop


of Canterbury to Henry II, this has been a place of pilgrimage


A million visitors come here every year to wonder


And most are happy to pay ?12 each for the privilege.


But in neighbouring Surrey, the less-visited


Guildford Cathedral, opened in 1961, asked for planning


permission to build flats on its land in order


Guildford Borough Council turned it down, so the cathedral is now


The Church of England has an enormous property portfolio


of 16,000 buildings to maintain, half of them Grade I


But less than a million worshippers attend a Church


Should the Church of England be cut down to size?


Simon Jenkins, trustee of the churches conservation trust, lots of


situations up and down the country like Guildford Cathedral, what would


you do about it? Very few like chilled food. Cathedrals in this


country are in good shape, more people going to cathedrals,


worshipping in them, they are well looked after, they can raise money,


cathedrals are not a major problem although gold but does have one. The


problem is churches, as you said in the introduction there are probably


5000 churches that are essentially empty, people may go occasionally,


but they are essentially empty, in the middle of every community is a


church, beautiful community buildings, built with the taxes of


the public. They have got to be somehow return to the public, we


have to get them back into use. They cannot be demolished, it is wrong,


they are ours. These building should not be sitting largely empty in the


middle of these communities without the community using them to the


fore. You are not looking happy. Can I tell you what we do in our church?


These churches were built on the back of serfdom, we want them back!


I think you have them back, let me explain! One of the joys of the


Church of England for me and the thing that attracted me to the


Church of England, 16,000 church buildings, in every community, gives


the Church of England are present in a brick community and you are saying


should it be cut back to size? Obviously I will say no and let me


explain why I am going to say no. Each building in each community


represents a group of people who worship in that building and who are


led by people like me with a collar on and lots of lay people. But some


of the congregations could fit into a telephone box! They may be small


but what they can do, one of our churches the congregation is not


huge, between 20 to 30 people will gather and worship on a Sunday


morning, but let me tell you, the fact that we worship and we are


people of faith is only one side of the coin. The other side of the coin


is, how are we going to live our lives and how will that affect the


people around us? We opened a community hub about three years ago,


people if they are feeling isolated or lonely can come in. We opened a


credit union so that people who don't have access to a bank account


could have access to savings... Simon, what about the homeless


situation, a quarter of a million people in England are homeless and


their Iraqis empty buildings, who would agree with what Leslie says,


the broader Some churches do great things to


open their buildings to the community. The reality is, though,


churches have got bogged down with buildings. As a Christian, I am


aware people who have been on church committees Woolnough you get your


energy sapped into thinking about heating, plumbing, it goes into


building is often not used. A study found 75% of Islington church


meeting rooms were not used in the week. And when I open the new


Testament as a Christian, I do not find Jesus telling his followers to


set up a branch of the National Trust to maintain buildings.


Here is the question, bricks and mortar, churches, what would Jesus


do about them? I would not like to be arrogant to


speak the very words of Jesus. When I looked at Jesus in the new


Testament, he says that all about religious buildings. His comments


were pretty negative. The gospel is about getting stuck into the


community as churches are, I am not saying don't have buildings, but not


for the sake of it. Use them while get rid of them. Meet someone else.


Put the energy into engaging in the world, giving an example of


promotion of equality and peace. They are essentially places of


worship. In Canterbury diocese, over 90% of the parish churches are


listed buildings. You can't just threw away a listed building. I go


back to the point that we are communities of worship and prayer.


That drives... Are they sacred places? There are


people who would see them as sacred. I am a volunteer chaplain.


They are sacred places. We are in danger of idolising buildings.


We are not worshipping buildings here.


I am not suggesting you are. There is a slope towards that. Some of the


most powerful worship has been in great buildings, others have been


outdoors, for example, in acts of protest, blocking and entrance to


the London arms prayer by praying. That was a sacred space.


So many of you are not being paid but you are concentrating on


antennae these buildings. Timothy? There is a lesson to be


learned from the National Trust, I will come to that. You were asking


about downsizing. I do not think as a conservationist there need be a


problem with money. One of the main problems we have is too much money.


I can think of a case of a central London church where the vehicle was


in the middle of raising ?3 million in order to change the interior, a


fine early 1950s interior, and the no particular reason. If you look at


the church is associated with holy Trinity Brompton, you will find an


enormous waste of resources put into what I would call essentially


vandalising Victorian buildings. That is a popular church.


Throbbing. That is right. The parish church in


the area where I grew up in Hammersmith has been competitively


shafted by the changes put into it. Let me pick up something Simon said


he clearly which is about buildings. The evangelical wing of the Church


of England has an obsession about buildings and destroying them. Go


back to the English Civil War, they were pushing their pack stuff


through stained glass windows so we could not enjoy them.


In a way they are still at it. They are absolutely still at it. You


may laugh. Let me give you an example. There is


a manual, a best selling authoritative manual for the


evangelical wing of the Church of England calls re-pitching a tent,


from 20 years ago. It includes in it an illustration of a happy


combination smashing up a Gothic church and moving into a plain ugly


building on the outskirts precisely for the benefit of the community.


Because it's not about bricks and mortar.


Simon Jenkins? There is no problem with popular churches or the


wonderful work that people like you do, some of the most dedicated


people I have come across. Best practice is not the issue. Most of


Church of England churches are severely underused. It is no good


saying they are open to all. Most people say why do you use the


church? It is not for me. It is for a small section of practising


Anglicans. The biggest buildings in most of these committees is a


church. It caters for a tiny group in that community. It is in the


interest of the church for the community to recapture these places


and use them more widely. Audience, does anyone want to say


something? The gentleman here. I am not a Christian. This small


church, there were booked a few hundred years ago. In those days, a


lot of people didn't have cars to travel. Now, a lot of people have


cars, it is easier to travel. Would it not be better to have a church,


instead of every church having 20 parishioners, have a bigger church


somewhere where they can all go? An American evangelical mega-


church? Cathedrals.


Good morning, a colourful top. Good morning. It is not about the


buildings but the communities. I come from rural Devon originally and


there are a lot of places where churches are pretty much the only


community building left, the post of this goes, the postbox can even go.


Community cohesion. Sometimes people will say, look at


Kent, you have lots of churches, rural churches in hamlets or small


villages. If you were to think they have already lost the pub, the


shops, public transport isn't great. It is still the church that is


there. It holds a place, not the building...


But if you flog the churches you could do more for charity.


A few years ago there was a lot of flooding on the Somerset levels, the


church buildings and the congregations and their volunteers,


that was a brilliant example of church communities coming into their


own. Let us not get hung up on the building which is a place to worship


coming you can get married, have a funeral, your baptism.


Can you get married in there if you are gay.


Well... Not at the moment. I am glad I would be welcome at


church but it is simply not true there is a church that welcomes


everybody in every community. Because of that point?


Some churches would welcome me because of my sexuality. If you are


a wheelchair user, in defiance of the law of the country, you cannot


get in. Churches should be pioneering


equality but in many places they are actually less equal than the society


around them. Let me ask a question.


Who owns these churches? The people own the churches. Our


ancestors built them with their extorted taxes and hardship.


These churches, especially the great cathedrals, not just religious


statements but about power, control. Keeping the peasantry down.


Beckett died because he was trying to ensure his version of Sharia law,


the church courts. Yet he was made a saint. They are community buildings


that belonged to the descendants of the people who paid for them. They


could be made more use of, you can get married there, and they have the


huge weight of community history in them not just for revision but the


getting married and buried. We should open them up. The Church of


England has shown itself not fit to look after these great treasures.


In areas where there is less of a church of England engagement but


more of a Muslim or Hindu engagement, Bradford for example,


turn them into mosques? I say let people use them including


the Church of England. Other religions as well. Community


centres, as well as religion. Dominic Grieve, they were


architectural jurors looking on the peasantry, it was about shock and


awe. It is ethical and political power.


There was an element of that, and religious devotion. A large number


were built through ridges devotion and money voluntarily given. There


is a mixture. Toovey characterised the entirety of the piety of the


middle ages as being state imposed on the peasantry is a little far


from reality. There was a great mixture but it was a time when the


leadership of the churches had sold out to wealth and power.


Had gone against Jesus's article message. Through historical anomaly


we have these cathedrals largely tourist attractions, things like


church has conference Centre hosting every year a military conference


sponsored by arms companies to fund the church. With these buildings


now, we are stuck with them and it is making it harder...


As an early modern historian I take issue with the fact religion wasn't


necessarily not connected to the state. The state had a great deal of


laws imposing on people to force them to be religious. The penalties


in the medieval period if you want part of that church community and


weren't conforming, it was political control. I point again is, if you


look at the churches built, can I say the word, before the


Reformation, you have a different ownership. They belonged to the


Roman Catholic Church. This may be a get out clause. Churches bought


before the Reformation could be handed back.


15 seconds. It is what we do in the future not the past. In the future,


you sound welcoming, the fact is churches are not welcoming places.


But more and more. On that point of contention we had


to leave it. As always, the debates will continue


online and on Twitter. Next week we're in Cardiff,


so do join us then. But for now, it's goodbye from


Canterbury, and have a great Sunday. It was the most beautiful view


I've ever been through. For one second, I was swimming on my


back, and I was looking to the sky. I was swimming across


the Aegean Sea. I was a refugee,


going from Syria to Germany.


Nicky Campbell presents live debate from the University of Kent in Canterbury. He asks: Do the brightest do better at grammar schools? Is using drones ethical? And should the Church of England be cut down to size?