Episode 17 The Big Questions


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Episode 17

Nicky Campbell presents from Oasis Academy MediaCityUK. Is it right to take more than 50% in tax? Do we have a right not to be offended? Is death easier if you believe in God?


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Today on The Big Questions: taxes and fair shares; taking

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offence; and facing death with and without God.

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

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Today we're live from Oasis Academy MediaCityUK in Salford.

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Welcome, everybody, to The Big Questions.

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Promises about tax always play a big part in elections.

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Pledges not to increase VAT, National Insurance or income taxes

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in the Tories' 2015 manifesto came back to haunt the Chancellor,

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Philip Hammond, when he tried to balance his recent budget.

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We'll find out next week whether that pledge still stands.

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Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has warned all those earning ?80,000

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a year or more that they may be paying more tax

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And their leaked manifesto promises various rises in spending that

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And the LibDems are saying everyone should pay 1% more tax to fund

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But is there a limit to what is fair?

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Is it right to take more than 50% in tax?

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Pfizer Sheehan, would you do it, whether it is mixed, a little bit of

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money, revenue neutral, people change their behaviour, would you do

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it anyway on a point of moral principle? It should raise more

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money, even where it wasn't, it's because people are avoiding tax and

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that's another issue. I wouldn't give people lower tax because they

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are avoiding tax, giving people a reward. I understand but it

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behaviour changes and you can't change it, but Ulster be avoidance,

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look at France, 75% tax on super-rich raising about 100 and six

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-- 160 million euros, as far as I remember it the national deficit was

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80 billion. The darling of the centre-left, Emmanuel Macron said it

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was Kubot without the sunshine. The issue is, why are people changing

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their behaviour and I think tax gets a bad rap. If we didn't have texts

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-- taxes, public resources, schools hospitals and roads would suffer.

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Places they don't have tax resources, it's scary, tax is the

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price we pay personal life society and people avoiding it is an issue.

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I think it's especially fared to give, charge people with higher

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incomes higher,... Is it morally right? Yes, because we've seen

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inequality grew somewhat, the top 1%, if we take together and it did

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they take a bigger share of that, the top 10% per instance back in the

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late 70s took about 1.9% more than the bottom 10% now it's nine times

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as much, we know FTSE bosses get 108 times the average worker in the

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company earns. They earn more. What's happened is we have seen a

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shift towards income going, the top five and 1%, the rest of us get

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more, we get less, so it stagnates. It's a correction to the levels of

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the quality we have. Caroline... I don't think you're going to agree.

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I'm not. But what about the moral issue? If you've done as well as

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that in society it's not an attack on wealth, success, it's basically

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saying PA little bit more, help us all be a community about it, more

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for roads, social care, hospitals, schools... What really worries me.

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We are all in this together. Absolutely. But what worries me as

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the rate goes up the billionaires can do something about it but the

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guys who earn a little bit more, workers and Sabres, they are the

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ones who will be faced with 50% tax and I don't think that's fair. But

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what I do think, we ought to stay start thinking about the existing

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tax system which allows them, enables them to avoid the tax. At

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the moment we have a very silly system in the UK for by if you are a

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non-domicilliary you can put your money outside the UK, there are

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incentives for keeping it abroad and in that situation, I think -- don't

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think it's right. I think we should have a tax incentive that makes the

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billions come to Britain and that's what we need to do. We July to load

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the top rate of tax? I would. I'm not a policy maker but what I want

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to see is lower the rate of tax for the simple reason that everyone will

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feel richer and they will then spend more and if they spent more... I

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would say around 35%. When they spend more they benefit Britain and

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businesses in Britain. That's my plan B. Lydia, 35%, do you think

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you'd get more money from that for the Exchequer? Remember if we can

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get money to move we get it in taxation, we get it in VAT. Lydia.

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Pfizer Sheehan hit the nail on the head, taxes this site shall,

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inequality is the driver. Society is very unequal, having the rich pay

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more tax equalises things. So when society is an equal... In Fort Wayne

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doesn't equalise things that doesn't raise much revenue, which is the

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argument on the other side and you would actually raise more revenue

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for the reasons that Caroline alluded to, RUC in it's a point of

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moral principle? No, I'm not. I'm considering evidence, I think there

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is fairly strong evidence that more equal societies tent to do better.

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Amber also evidence that more equal societies tend to do better whether

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those societies are more equal of the gross income level or at the net

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income level. So I think that's a really interesting point. Perhaps

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tax is not really the issue. It's a collective psychological impact, in

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a sense? Any thoughts, audience? Gentlemen in the pink shirt. I think

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perhaps it depends on the circumstances. Right now, speaking

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as a student many of my friends, I'm from Gibraltar, my tuition fees is

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ordered but many of my friends and people of my generation, students

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will be saddled with debt. We see across the road from here, the

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homelessness in Greater Manchester and it's part of the mayoral debate,

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40 million people looking for homes, public services are stretched to the

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limit, if there is ever a time to raise taxes on the wealthiest in the

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nation it's probably now. Anyone else? Are you worried it reaches a

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rate for by its, this is the argument, it's so punitive you get

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less money? This is a lack of care... We are beyond that. I would

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say is the limit, around 70% maximum. But I think technically we

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can go about 50 now. When you say 70% and I just have to say, Angelus

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eyes nearly popped out of her head. What's wrong with 70% from people

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who have the broadest shoulders? We have a big social care crisis. We

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do, there is a novel lot of benevolence amongst the wealthiest

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in society. Setting aside fiscal discussions about net benefits and

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whether it's going to raise tax, wealth has become a Deidre word in

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this country. -- dirty word. What we want to promote, as the mother of

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students, and aspirational culture, they feel they work hard, hopefully

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they will have a fulfilling life and contribute to society, hopefully

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have a job that gives them enough solvency to enjoy life and make the

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right moral choices with the money they earn but if they are

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consistently browbeat -- browbeaten by the notion that it is wrong to

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earn a decent amount of money and somehow, as you said before, you

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pre-faced this by saying the largest amount of tax comes from those who

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earn the most ready... More to come. I think it's a poor lesson to young

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people. We want them to aspire, not just from a monetary position at

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from an emotional and social welfare position. We are not ever telling

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them wealth is a dirty word. 90% of tax comes from the top 50% in

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society, various levels and statistics so what about that? The

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object to the wealthy, people being wealthy? We don't want a society

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that can be oppressive but at the same time levels of wealth

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inequality that we have in this country, especially attached to

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housing, a lot of young people can't afford to buy a house and they can't

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get on the wealth ladder and so we have levels of inequality that hurt

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aspiration, hurt social mobility. I think there's a right balance we can

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reach and we are not there right now, we've gone from being one of

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the most equal countries to being one of the most unequal high-income

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countries. It was 60% under Mrs Thatcher. There are levels, I agree

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that become punitive but 50% is not bad and I think given for we are in

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terms of inequality in public services, young people aren't having

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a chance and also the levels of them to generation inequality, people

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above 40 plus have so much wealth income than those in younger

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generations we should rebalance and the best thing is when you get

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people on lower to middle income is more money and more ability to spend

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they are more likely to spend it than the rich. You don't want to

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give tax cuts to the rich because they say that. The poor spend it.

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Alex from the taxpayers Alliance, that's a very potent point about

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future generations. Our children and grandchildren, will does not have

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the quality-of-life that so many of us were lucky to have had. We need

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to invest in their future by paying more tax, don't we? There is a

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number of points. The first is that if you think, should be taxed more

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than 50% of peoples earnings, this is that because it happens, the 60p

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rate of income tax, the personal allowance... What is the optimum

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rate? Depends what you want. If you are talking strictly about revenue

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raising, you probably are looking at some work between ?40.45, revenue

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raising highest but I don't think the aim of the tax system should be

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to raise as much revenue. If you want less of something tax it more,

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if you want less wealthy tax and more, less wealthy rich people in

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high income jobs to come to your country tax them more. It's better

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to have lower rates to get more of these people here paying tax and

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doing all these things in the first place. Is there proof that happens?

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Plenty of proof, look at the 1970s... What sort of people come,

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those who have expensive accountants... Get through a very

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the kit system. Quite, the system is far too, Decatur but the reason why

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people hire expensive accountants and try to avoid taxes because the

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rates are so high, if that was 20% instead of 52%, there would be less

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incentive for people to avoid it. Does it indicate a lack of

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benevolence? There is less incentive, need to avoid it, the

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rates are less punitive. The more that we tax, the more people will

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try to avoid and the more we have anti avoidance measures and stuff

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like that, more and more resentment comes into the system, more people

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avoided, we are in a constant downward spiral, people constantly

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resent the system. Let me ask Don Foster about this. It's a completely

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backward argument, we have two children, one behaves well, one

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misbehaves, we don't try and bribe the other child into behaving well

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while ignoring the one who does behave well. I think rather than say

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we have to teach aspiration, which is a big problem because we have a

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rigid class system, we need to take responsibility so we have to ask,

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how much money do people need? The top 1% have far more money than they

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could ever use, they have ordered extensively and we have to crack

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down on wealth avoidance and we have to raise revenue by raising taxes.

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And we have to do that until we have a better social care system, that

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NHS and we have to teach people to be democratic... Inheritance tax?

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Wealth tax? Top rate of income tax up? They all have to go up, we have

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to address intergenerational inequality which comes down to

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housing, assets and the passing of love from generation to generation.

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It's a small number of people hit by inheritance tax and they aren't hit

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to the extent that my claim to be so I think we need to properly address

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wealth inequality, doing that by revenue raising. You are taxing

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people twice, and you? With inheritance tax. You are taxing

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people twice. You are, because it's wealth that they've earned. Is it

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fair? Yes, yes it is. Tax them twice, tax them again, tax them

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again... I was just going to say, you're a really good writer, if you

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wrote a book that were to be a massive JK Rowling bestseller and

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made zillions you'd be quite happy to give more than 50% of it away? I

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would, I have a small number of friends who are enough to put them

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in the top 1% and they are happy to pay the full amount of tax and I

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think we need to... JK Rowling is happy to pay her full amount, we

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need to look at these people as role models... You haven't asked... I'm

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sorry, did I call you Naomi? This is all very taxing, if I may say so.

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The problem is we not talking about giving it away, were talking about

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it being taken of people and countries with lower tax rate is,

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the United States, in some states tax is about as high as it is in the

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UK but generally speaking they are lower, about twice as philanthropic,

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three times as people in the UK, the average American giving $15 a week

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to charity. The poorest gives more than the wealthiest. What you're

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doing by taxing and redistributing like this, you are effectively

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raising the morale of the state above that of the individual and I

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find that quite offensive and it's not as if the state is completely

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benevolent. Politicians have their client groups and they have key

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voters and they have key constituencies, it's not as if all

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this money is going on lovely things that we can all agree with, but

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that's trusting politicians. They are going to spend it on things that

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we wanted to be spent on, I put the kid Spender done, but don't spend it

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on that, even more, Decatur. More thoughts from the audience?

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Just going back to the issue of inheritance tax, I have been

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fortunate, I have been able to retire early from the public sector

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and help my children. I am hoping that either for the next seven years

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so they do not end up the charge on that inheritance tax. You have to be

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careful, there is a lot of direct taxation and a lot of indirect

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taxation. If you pass the house onto them no... I have been able to

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assist them in buying houses themselves, I am doing my to give

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them their inheritances early without the worry of not seeing them

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able to achieve what they want to achieve. The lady beside our friend

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from Gibraltar? With me, I can understand as a student and also I

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graduated 18 months ago, I am setting up my own business... How

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much debt do you have at the moment? It is quite substantial. With me,

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what I want to do is have the ability to earn that money back from

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my own business. I am of the opinion that if... As I say, I can

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understand why people think it should be increased but at the same

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time we should reward people who earn money, their own money their

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own way, rather than taxing excessively above 50%. That is just

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my opinion. APPLAUSE

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Faiza, how do you have a tax system that encourages entrepreneurialism

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and encourages people... Lots of us work hard, if they are lucky enough

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to work hard and to make a lot of money and create a lot of jobs and

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wealth, what is your incentive? Weedy progressive systems and we do

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not want extreme levels, being 70, 75, 80%, they become a disincentive.

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But for the most part we have a progressive system. Even in the US,

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Bill Gates set up Microsoft when tax rates were double what they are now.

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Questions about Microsoft, globally. Questions asked. There is something

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important about the deal you make is a government, if you tax people

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more, what you do. We have seen the top 1% in top 5% give more is that

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we have seen the fall in middle-income jobs, we should be

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investing back into the economy so that others can pay more tax. We

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keep hearing that employment has gone up but the tax rate has gone

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down because so many people are on low incomes. So what you do to plug

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the gap in the economy should be the question. Some people pay 90% of

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tax. But if you boost the economy you have more jobs. If you cap it

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too high, you drain the people... We have not seen that. At extreme

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levels you would see that, not at 50%. We have had 50% tax, there is a

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quirk in the system now and people are leaving. Businesses would leave

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if they did not happen educated workforce, good roads, a good health

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system that staff could rely on, that is when businesses would leave.

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APPLAUSE When you are dealing with businesses

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you are talking about a system of tax that pays 19%. 19%

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incorporation, you keep your money in your company and do not take it

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out as income. If you take it out as income you are taxed at 45, 50, 60%,

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you do not do it. It is terribly important that we have more

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equality, that is why I will say bring the rate down, don't raise it

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up for Corporation Tax, if you do that we will drive businesses out of

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the country for the various reasons that you say that we have a safe and

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secure country and a fantastic workforce. Khalil, as a Muslim, 10%

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during come those two... Sorry? Is it 2.5%? I was talking about the old

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ties! 2.5%. What, principally, do you think about taking more than

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half of what someone earns? Some people say it is a moral duty, the

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right thing to do is agree, some people say it is unethical and

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immoral because you are discouraging people to work hard? Where are you?

:19:56.:20:00.

The system of redistribution of wealth, the important thing here is

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that when you live in a democracy it is not just about having a free

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vote, it is about transparency. There have been great arguments on

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the panel about how you use the money. What is important is when you

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are setting the tax rate you have transparency in how that is

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distributed. In my view it is important to recognise that the

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economic crisis for many people and many families is not over. What we

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need from all of the political parties when making a tax policy is

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to understand how it will be used and have it will benefit the

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population of the country. Thank you very much indeed for your

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contributions, all of you. I look forward to hearing far more from all

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of you later as we proceed. If you have something to say

:20:43.:20:46.

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

:20:47.:20:48.

where you'll find links to join We're also debating live this

:20:49.:20:50.

morning from Salford: Do we have a right

:20:51.:20:54.

not to be offended? And is death easier

:20:55.:20:56.

if you believe in God? So, get tweeting or emailing

:20:57.:20:58.

on those topics now or send us any other ideas or thoughts you may

:20:59.:21:01.

have about the show. On Tuesday, the Irish police

:21:02.:21:07.

dropped their investigation into claims Stephen Fry made

:21:08.:21:09.

blasphemous remarks on a television Fry asked why he should "respect

:21:10.:21:11.

a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates

:21:12.:21:18.

a world full of injustice." People have said much worse on this

:21:19.:21:22.

programme over the past decade. But in Jakarta, Indonesia,

:21:23.:21:28.

blasphemy has landed the Christian governor in prison,

:21:29.:21:31.

after he suggested some imams had misused Koranic verses

:21:32.:21:33.

to discriminate against Christian These days some students want

:21:34.:21:35.

trigger warnings if a law lecturer plans to discuss a rape case

:21:36.:21:46.

or a literature professor wants to analyse a gruesome play,

:21:47.:21:49.

like Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. And woe betide you if someone

:21:50.:21:55.

insists they are neither male nor Do we have a right

:21:56.:21:58.

not to be offended? Dawn, what's all this? What's all

:21:59.:22:19.

this? When I was at university, a little while ago, I didn't want safe

:22:20.:22:26.

spaces, I want a dangerous basis, I wanted challenges. We debated with

:22:27.:22:30.

Communists, fascists, we didn't have is amiss in those days... I'm sure

:22:31.:22:36.

you did extra measure my I joke, but not at Aberdeen University. We

:22:37.:22:41.

relished that. What is the problem? We always focus on the most extreme

:22:42.:22:47.

examples. I left university in 2010 and we had a big debate while I was

:22:48.:22:52.

there about whether or not to remove the no platform policy for the BNP.

:22:53.:22:59.

The debate was about the fact that we were a membership organisation, a

:23:00.:23:02.

students union, and lots of the Jewish and Muslim students, lots of

:23:03.:23:06.

the black and Asian students said that if fascists were entered into

:23:07.:23:11.

their organisation we would not... They would not feel safe. We have to

:23:12.:23:14.

look at the fact that everybody should be free to express political

:23:15.:23:19.

opinions, up to a point where it discriminates against others. You

:23:20.:23:23.

happy by Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer who are no platform, people

:23:24.:23:28.

who have fought all the way for the rights of others Daesh you have

:23:29.:23:31.

people like Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer. These great human

:23:32.:23:38.

rights campaigners. Douglas Carswell from Ukip is banned from one

:23:39.:23:42.

university and is an elected representative. When you have Peter

:23:43.:23:46.

Tatchell and Jermaine Greer getting no platform, Islamist 's with

:23:47.:23:52.

poisonous to views do not have no platform, there is not a level

:23:53.:23:56.

playing field and makes no sense. A lot of the issues here are conflated

:23:57.:24:05.

them not being invited to a specific debate... Trigger warnings. I would

:24:06.:24:11.

not personally no platform Peter Tatchell Douglas Carswell, but there

:24:12.:24:15.

is an argument against some very extreme Islamists, some very extreme

:24:16.:24:21.

fascists. You have to look at whether people feel safe in their

:24:22.:24:26.

organisations, their private spaces. Everybody should have the right to

:24:27.:24:30.

be heard in public spaces, we were discussing Nick Griffin at

:24:31.:24:33.

university, Nick Griffin not being invited to the University of Warwick

:24:34.:24:36.

campus did not stop him from standing on the street and is

:24:37.:24:41.

posting any views he wanted. We have to look at, for instance... When he

:24:42.:24:46.

was on Question Time he made a fool of himself coming he was tested. But

:24:47.:24:51.

it could have gone the other way and he could have roused applause. One

:24:52.:24:55.

journalist said we were expecting Oswald Mosley and we got David

:24:56.:25:02.

Brent. Adam, is it a case of trusting people? You can understand

:25:03.:25:06.

Dawn's argument, someone has maybe left home for the first time, in a

:25:07.:25:10.

university environment, it might stifle their confidence in

:25:11.:25:13.

expressing their opinions because they have somebody so unpleasant

:25:14.:25:18.

that? I exactly agree, university should be a dangerous space. The

:25:19.:25:26.

University in the press is often described as a home from home,

:25:27.:25:29.

universities make those points. It is not a comfy home surrounding, it

:25:30.:25:34.

is a dangerous place where ideas should be tested. Within this debate

:25:35.:25:37.

everybody claims to support free speech, that is the problem, they

:25:38.:25:42.

say I support free speech but... But this is the exception. Where is your

:25:43.:25:52.

but? There is no but. Free speech is to be absolute, so you often find

:25:53.:25:55.

yourself to spending people who you disagree with entirely. A Holocaust

:25:56.:26:02.

denier? If you silence people, you lose the opportunity to defeat these

:26:03.:26:04.

ideas. APPLAUSE

:26:05.:26:08.

You lose the opportunity to engage with them and put them down, which

:26:09.:26:14.

is really important for society, more broadly. As activists and

:26:15.:26:17.

citizens we should be debating and discussing things in order to build

:26:18.:26:20.

a better future for everyone. That is the point of free speech. On this

:26:21.:26:27.

show we have had the BNP when they had elected representatives, we have

:26:28.:26:32.

had Anjem Choudary, all manner of Islamists, Tommy Robinson from the

:26:33.:26:33.

EDL. People can play but we would argue it was in

:26:34.:26:54.

context and there was a proper reason for it. Any thoughts from the

:26:55.:26:57.

audience? The guy in the grey shirt? The right to not be offended begins

:26:58.:26:59.

and ends with your right to not listen. You can't stop someone

:27:00.:27:02.

else's mouth, only your own ears. You have to think for yourself.

:27:03.:27:03.

APPLAUSE Stephen, does anything go with free

:27:04.:27:10.

speech? I believe so. I suppose it might direct incitement to violence,

:27:11.:27:12.

but how would you classify incitement? It is treating the

:27:13.:27:17.

public as infants that can be incited into committing violence at

:27:18.:27:20.

an instruction. We have all heard the expression it is taken, not

:27:21.:27:27.

given, it is entirely subjective. What I find deeply offensive might

:27:28.:27:31.

not faze the next person, vice versa. Where do you draw the line

:27:32.:27:35.

and who do you trust to draw it? Given things I hear people getting

:27:36.:27:39.

offended about, I trust nobody to draw that line. Who needs a safe

:27:40.:27:45.

space? Possibly a group that might have a good shout for this is former

:27:46.:27:50.

Muslims, they are ostracised by the larger community, it can be a great

:27:51.:27:55.

risk to their personhood if they come out against Islam, vocally. I

:27:56.:27:59.

speak to a lot of former Muslim groups... The guy behind you is not

:28:00.:28:05.

happy at all. I work at a university. At the University I work

:28:06.:28:09.

for an ex-Muslim group came up to the campus and I was asked to sit in

:28:10.:28:15.

and observe, this is nonsense that ex-Muslims are somehow scared and

:28:16.:28:19.

the idea that... It is not Muslims, Muslims are the most attacked people

:28:20.:28:23.

in the press by everyone. You can't open a newspaper, turn on the

:28:24.:28:26.

television without Muslims being attacked. In the last five minutes I

:28:27.:28:31.

have heard about Islamist them used by almost everyone who has spoken.

:28:32.:28:47.

Which Islamist people are you speaking to? That is offensive to

:28:48.:28:51.

me. Do I had to sit here and take it? If you are an Islamist that you

:28:52.:28:53.

have certain views on homosexuals, for example, if you are LGBT you

:28:54.:28:56.

might find that offensive, but is it not better to debate that Islamist,

:28:57.:28:59.

if I might use that term? I have had to listen to many anti-Muslim

:29:00.:29:02.

comments, but there is a line. What about anti-LGBT comments? Stephen?

:29:03.:29:08.

You made a point about Muslims having to put up with anti-Muslim

:29:09.:29:11.

abuse, ex-Muslims have to put up with that. There are misconceptions

:29:12.:29:17.

about you based on skin colour or your Arabic sounding name or

:29:18.:29:21.

whatever, that is projected onto ex-Muslims, and they have the added

:29:22.:29:23.

ostracisation from their own communities. Angela, would you sit

:29:24.:29:32.

on a platform with a Holocaust denier? Given...? Absolutely not.

:29:33.:29:39.

Absolutely not, because... Is a second-generation, both my parents

:29:40.:29:42.

are survivors, my father over for and a half years in different camps,

:29:43.:29:48.

including concentration camps, my mother questioned at gunpoint by the

:29:49.:29:52.

Gestapo aged ten, I cannot tolerate the term Holocaust denier, because

:29:53.:29:56.

Holocaust happened, it is not open to debate, you cannot debate if it

:29:57.:30:06.

happened or not. It is one example, sorry, Angela, that you cannot use.

:30:07.:30:09.

It is not the same as flat earth, it happened in 1939 to 1945. Excuse me,

:30:10.:30:13.

you cannot deny facts. I feel really strongly. In that sense, there is no

:30:14.:30:17.

debate. As far as debate goes I would like to say that I'm open to

:30:18.:30:24.

free speech with a limit of... There is a limit.

:30:25.:30:34.

I don't think individual psychology and emotional harm our bigger

:30:35.:30:43.

principles of make-up foundation of society, I don't think it's the name

:30:44.:30:47.

of mine to go out and offend people, I don't think it's good to

:30:48.:30:49.

pointlessly offend people and in many ways this debate has become

:30:50.:30:56.

toxic... This debate? The broader free-speech debate. The general

:30:57.:31:02.

debate. The name-calling. Free speech is calling no platform

:31:03.:31:10.

snowflakes, being quite aggressive, -- I think what we need to

:31:11.:31:16.

understand is that free speech is a vehicle to enable us to progress as

:31:17.:31:20.

a society and it is also the bedrock of freedom. All freedoms. As a

:31:21.:31:28.

Moslem, the bedrock for society, we've made progress because of

:31:29.:31:32.

free-speech kicking against clerical power and authoritarian power and

:31:33.:31:36.

getting two where we are, the freedom to save what we want and

:31:37.:31:39.

that much cherished freedom, the freedom to ridicule which said early

:31:40.:31:44.

British and European thing, people who are against it, something of a

:31:45.:31:50.

cultural imposition but your community has suffered greatly and

:31:51.:31:54.

you feel that you have been slandered. Yes, my community has

:31:55.:32:00.

suffered as a result of blasphemy laws and we might come to that as

:32:01.:32:03.

the conversation progresses... In other countries. Free speech is...

:32:04.:32:09.

He's shaking his head again, that fella. Sorry, carry on. Free-speech

:32:10.:32:13.

is important, a fundamental right that should be protected but with

:32:14.:32:18.

every right comes a level of responsibility, it's not something I

:32:19.:32:21.

make up, we see that everywhere. On this programme today you wouldn't be

:32:22.:32:27.

able to use abusive language, we have norms and rules that protect

:32:28.:32:31.

against that, even the UK Human Rights Act... You might add to ten

:32:32.:32:36.

o'clock, and I don't mean ten o'clock this morning. The UK Human

:32:37.:32:40.

Rights Act has by our Parliament and our democratically elected leaders

:32:41.:32:44.

talks about freedom of expression in article ten budget talks about it in

:32:45.:32:50.

the context of morality, the context of responsibility. It's important,

:32:51.:32:54.

absolutely important that we protect the right of spree speech but we do

:32:55.:32:58.

it in a way that doesn't impose on minorities or the week... The

:32:59.:33:03.

measure of democracy and the measure of our freedom is not how much we

:33:04.:33:08.

are able... What exactly, we have a right, Chris Hitchens, Sunday said I

:33:09.:33:13.

find that offensive and his next question was, your point is... It's

:33:14.:33:28.

interesting, you identify as an Amadi muslin and it's one of the

:33:29.:33:31.

largest persecuted sections of the Muslim community. Asad Shah, the

:33:32.:33:40.

shopkeeper in Glasgow, held by a fellow Muslim because of his belief

:33:41.:33:44.

and proclamations about faith, once you justify this offence culture you

:33:45.:33:49.

provide people with rhetorical tools and justification to take matters

:33:50.:33:52.

into their own hands. What we are not saying it's you can't have free

:33:53.:33:58.

debate and discussion, it is absolutely important that you are

:33:59.:34:02.

able to challenge what I believe, what a Jew believes, a Hindu or a

:34:03.:34:07.

Christian, I defend that right, people should be able to save what

:34:08.:34:11.

they want to see in order to get to the truth but when you start to use

:34:12.:34:15.

free speech in order to ridicule and to insult and hurt and harm without

:34:16.:34:21.

purpose, that does not benefit society. Look, I am born in a

:34:22.:34:29.

century... I am born in a century... Whose truth, this is a thing?

:34:30.:34:33.

Ridicule. We glory in ridicule, one at a time, Angela has been trying to

:34:34.:34:38.

come in. You have been jumping up and down in your chair. You said

:34:39.:34:44.

absolutely you would not... A Holocaust denier, if I can use that

:34:45.:34:48.

term. She eloquently made the point that I was going to makes or I won't

:34:49.:34:53.

repeat it, setting aside that it's humongous Lee offensive to Jewish

:34:54.:34:56.

people or anybody who believes that shouldn't... To humanity. The

:34:57.:35:02.

bleakest moment in the annals of human history but the problem is

:35:03.:35:05.

what we have touched upon in this debate, there is a default position

:35:06.:35:10.

in society, this generation outrage and the moral high ground is

:35:11.:35:13.

overcrowded with people who are sort of ready to take offence if they

:35:14.:35:18.

don't agree with you. Obviously we have social restraints about

:35:19.:35:22.

incitement to racial hatred, sexual objectification of women,

:35:23.:35:29.

xenophobia... But if I say Germany instead of chairperson, someone

:35:30.:35:32.

leaps down my throat. Trivialising it a bit? I'm not, the issue has

:35:33.:35:37.

become trivialised by those who object to the fact that the idea

:35:38.:35:44.

that a wall. For example is somehow offensive to me. I wish I got more

:35:45.:35:49.

wolf whistles! All, Don Foster doesn't like that, it's great, I can

:35:50.:35:55.

see the expressions. Stephen in a second. I find it funny that someone

:35:56.:35:59.

says we have social restraints which stop object occasion of women and

:36:00.:36:03.

xenophobia and they write for the Daily Mail! I absolutely loathe that

:36:04.:36:11.

argument, it's a cheap, get out of jail card. It's true. It may be but

:36:12.:36:16.

you did nude the strength of your argument by saying I'll batter her

:36:17.:36:19.

over the head with one of the newspapers you write for the cause

:36:20.:36:23.

that way I don't have to take such a responsibility for anything else I

:36:24.:36:27.

say. I'm entitled as an individual to have my point of view my point of

:36:28.:36:31.

view is deeply offended by racial hatred, to racism, xenophobia,

:36:32.:36:37.

sexual objectification of women. You are hypocritical. I'm not, you are

:36:38.:36:41.

denying me the power of free-speech on a national television

:36:42.:36:47.

programme... I can hear you. You are sat here lives as a situation of

:36:48.:36:53.

censorship. I can't hear myself think. Stephen, this is the point

:36:54.:36:58.

that was raised, whose truth is it anyway? Exactly, people have truth

:36:59.:37:04.

that they try and base in science, for instance and people take it on

:37:05.:37:09.

faith and there's all these multiple truths, I class a lot of them as

:37:10.:37:12.

untruths myself but how do you compete for space in that way if you

:37:13.:37:16.

get more power to run than the other? That's my opinion, there is

:37:17.:37:20.

no ultimate truth and we should be open to challenge any sacred Kalb

:37:21.:37:24.

numb at how many people hold it and how much it might hurt her feelings

:37:25.:37:29.

if you do challenge. What about Holocaust and iris? Something as

:37:30.:37:32.

ridiculous as that. There are other examples. -- deniers. My only

:37:33.:37:43.

concern, Holocaust Nile is burly sinister in the fact it's

:37:44.:37:46.

conspiratorial nature and if you tell people you can say that they

:37:47.:37:50.

push it underground computer get to know where these people are. Denying

:37:51.:37:57.

reality, something that happened. Religion is denying a reality as

:37:58.:38:04.

well. I am going to collect your jacket. I think a religion is based

:38:05.:38:12.

on faith and we are going to come to that in a minute. Don't worry,

:38:13.:38:18.

Naomi. Faith is not something that can be proven. Faith in God is not

:38:19.:38:25.

something that can be proved and it's a denial of reality, it's an

:38:26.:38:29.

idea. It's man-made and it is a man-made idea. That's a question of

:38:30.:38:36.

opinion. So we can debate it. And we should. It's important that we do.

:38:37.:38:41.

You should be able to sit Moses didn't exist, Abraham didn't exist,

:38:42.:38:46.

Mohamed existed, Jesus existed, we should be able to say that. Gentle

:38:47.:38:51.

man in the jacket. Talking about free speech is an argument but

:38:52.:38:54.

bottom line you shouldn't forget in this country and probably many

:38:55.:38:58.

others in the world, people have died of -- died to preserve the

:38:59.:39:04.

right of free speech. Have they died to provide the right to Richard

:39:05.:39:10.

Tyseley and hatefully inside -- insult someone? It covers a broad

:39:11.:39:13.

spectrum of thing, with free-speech, responsibility, the right to free

:39:14.:39:18.

speech comes a responsibility to use it sensibly.

:39:19.:39:22.

APPLAUSE Stephen, what is sensible? I think

:39:23.:39:28.

free-speech has to cover everything from highbrow philosophy to gutter

:39:29.:39:33.

tumour to insults to fence, the whole thing or it doesn't cover

:39:34.:39:39.

anything, really. Free-speech has to be an absolute, we've had loads of

:39:40.:39:45.

examples, the extreme example, the chair man, chairwoman... But Luke

:39:46.:39:50.

looks plan? Taking away free speech from one person, you take it away

:39:51.:39:54.

from anyone but it also as an individual speaker, it's

:39:55.:40:00.

intellectually lazy to shut people up in order to win the argument. How

:40:01.:40:09.

do you know your ideas are true if you never happened challenged? Do

:40:10.:40:16.

you think it's a good way of testing and pushing and squeezing and going

:40:17.:40:21.

through the scientific test of your own ideas? It's not a good way. It's

:40:22.:40:27.

an affirmation of what you believe, a good way to test what you believe?

:40:28.:40:31.

No, if you have beliefs that are never challenged and you never have

:40:32.:40:35.

to defend them, you can never learn and develop your ideas. You stay

:40:36.:40:39.

stagnant and you become intellectually lazy and there's no

:40:40.:40:46.

proof, a lot of people who call themselves progressives in

:40:47.:40:52.

university, they are the antithesis in my mind to what is progressive.

:40:53.:40:58.

Thank you all very much. I know, many of you still raring to go. We

:40:59.:41:04.

have time, joining the debate this morning.

:41:05.:41:08.

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

:41:09.:41:11.

on to bbc.co.uk/the big questions then follow the link

:41:12.:41:13.

Or you can tweet using the hashtag bbctbq

:41:14.:41:16.

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

:41:17.:41:19.

Is death easier if you believe in God?

:41:20.:41:21.

And if you'd like to be in the audience at a future show,

:41:22.:41:24.

email audiencetbq@mentorn.tv We're in Peckham in South London on May

:41:25.:41:26.

28th for the final two programmes of this series.

:41:27.:41:28.

There will be the usual live programme in the morning

:41:29.:41:31.

and in the afternoon we're recording a special

:41:32.:41:33.

They say there are two certainties in life and we have already

:41:34.:41:39.

debated one of them, taxes, so now it's time

:41:40.:41:41.

It comes to us all in the end but some people have it

:41:42.:41:46.

much harder than others, they must face the fact they are

:41:47.:41:49.

There's a documentary on this tomorrow night on BBC2

:41:50.:41:56.

called A Time to Live, and this shows people who found

:41:57.:41:58.

a new intensity and joy in living, despite, perhaps because,

:41:59.:42:01.

Academic research suggests facing death is easier for atheists

:42:02.:42:08.

Is death easier if you believe in God?

:42:09.:42:21.

Well, Doctor Elaine Sugden, good morning. How are you? Call offer of

:42:22.:42:27.

talking about dying. A difficult thing to do but very important. --

:42:28.:42:33.

joint author. This is interesting, people with strong faith and

:42:34.:42:37.

atheists have the fewest problems, why would that be? I think the first

:42:38.:42:43.

thing to say is you are absolutely right, death is a great equaliser,

:42:44.:42:48.

we are all going to die, like it or not, we try and put it off and

:42:49.:42:53.

doctors try and put it off, quite rightly. Life is good, we want as

:42:54.:42:58.

much of it as we can but within limits. We get onto the quality of

:42:59.:43:03.

livestock, we don't want to be prolonged so long and people kept

:43:04.:43:10.

alive in frailty and in a way that is not compatible with good life.

:43:11.:43:15.

But to get onto the question of faith, I think it's quite right. --

:43:16.:43:22.

the quality of life. If you firmly believe that God is there and in

:43:23.:43:30.

control and he's got something for you after this life or if you firmly

:43:31.:43:37.

believe that as an atheist, there is no God and that this life is the

:43:38.:43:43.

end, then I think those people who firmly leave can face death probably

:43:44.:43:49.

with more ecumenically., haven't faced death, I do know people,

:43:50.:44:01.

mainly because I am a Christian, who are firmly believing Christians,

:44:02.:44:03.

Bible believing Christians who have put their trust into the form of God

:44:04.:44:10.

that appeared on earth in Jesus Christ and firmly believe that there

:44:11.:44:17.

is another life, we don't know, we believe it's good, after this one.

:44:18.:44:23.

Our people worried that it is not going to be good, there are those

:44:24.:44:27.

worried about judgment? I think maybe these are the people in

:44:28.:44:30.

between, the people who don't know. I think there must always go through

:44:31.:44:37.

your mind what if? Maybe through my mind what if there isn't? Well,

:44:38.:44:41.

that's fine, I wouldn't mind if this was the end. What if there is and I

:44:42.:44:46.

am separated one way or another from those that I love? As well?

:44:47.:44:52.

Separation honours, you never see them again but separation, the

:44:53.:44:55.

concerned but in judgment you may not see each other? Yes, you mention

:44:56.:45:02.

judgment and the Bible clearly talks about a time of judgment after death

:45:03.:45:10.

when we are going to be judged for not necessarily just what we've done

:45:11.:45:13.

in this life but whether we have committed, whether we believe in God

:45:14.:45:17.

and whether we've committed our lives to Jesus Christ. And therefore

:45:18.:45:25.

as he says, after that, with forgiveness and reconciliation with

:45:26.:45:32.

God, and to live with him for ever, we don't know quite what that means.

:45:33.:45:37.

A lot of people have not committed themselves to Jesus Christ and I

:45:38.:45:41.

think, you have, Jacqueline. Let me just tell everyone, you are a

:45:42.:45:46.

palette of cancer care patient, thank you for coming in. What are

:45:47.:45:49.

your thoughts on facing death and where do you get your strength from?

:45:50.:46:00.

I've been a lifelong Catholic, and in that time I've ignored God, I've

:46:01.:46:06.

rejected him and I've taken him for granted. Over the years, my

:46:07.:46:10.

experience has been that he's loved me more and more and enriched my

:46:11.:46:14.

life more and more. For many years I've been carried on the blanket of

:46:15.:46:19.

love and prayer by a lot of people, many of whom I don't know. In

:46:20.:46:28.

September 2014 I became very ill and it turned out I had an unusual over

:46:29.:46:32.

area and cancer had tangled itself with my bowel and stuck itself to my

:46:33.:46:40.

blush at the -- bladder. Because everything was blocked by was in

:46:41.:46:44.

imminent danger of death. I reached the point of being in imminent

:46:45.:46:48.

danger of death about half a dozen times over the last two years and

:46:49.:46:52.

nine months, and it's quite a scary place to go. But that blanket of

:46:53.:47:03.

love and prior strengthened and uplifted me in the darkest times --

:47:04.:47:11.

blanket of love and prayer. Far from being afraid of dying, as those

:47:12.:47:15.

times when it became most imminent, I felt a jolly and almost an

:47:16.:47:22.

eagerness to go. That was mitigated by the sadness of leaving those that

:47:23.:47:27.

I loved because I knew that I'd be cared for. I am convinced that there

:47:28.:47:39.

is a God. A great, good, powerful God who loves us beyond all telling,

:47:40.:47:42.

loves everyone of us. APPLAUSE

:47:43.:47:46.

And nothing can separate us from that love, but we have free will, we

:47:47.:47:56.

can choose to reject that love. Can I ask you, do you think some of the

:47:57.:48:01.

atheists in the audience or watching at home are in for a pleasant

:48:02.:48:07.

surprise? If I'm totally wrong and there is nothing but an endless

:48:08.:48:13.

sleep beyond death, then I would be happy with that. There have been

:48:14.:48:16.

times in my life when I would have committed suicide if I'd thought

:48:17.:48:22.

that, simply to get to that. Not existing, just like we didn't before

:48:23.:48:28.

we were born? There would be no painful suffering, no injustice, no

:48:29.:48:33.

war. Is I am right, all the people who do not believe in God, and that

:48:34.:48:38.

is a gift, faith is a gift from God. It is not something we choose. We

:48:39.:48:43.

can act for it and pray for it but it is a free gift. But for those who

:48:44.:48:49.

have no faith, I hope they're going to get a wonderful surprise.

:48:50.:48:51.

APPLAUSE Thank you very much.

:48:52.:49:01.

Stephen, you blog is The Godless Spellchecker, maybe when you are

:49:02.:49:05.

lying there and the clock is ticking you will be The Godly Spellchecker.

:49:06.:49:11.

That was inspiring. Thank you for calling on me to follow that! It is

:49:12.:49:18.

possible. Death makes you behave in a rational ways, certainly the fear

:49:19.:49:21.

of death. It would not necessarily indicate any truth in the claims.

:49:22.:49:26.

When you ask if God makes death easier, we ask this because God is

:49:27.:49:30.

linked to the afterlife. I don't think you are facing death in that

:49:31.:49:34.

sense, you are pretending it is not happening, you are pretending the

:49:35.:49:38.

lights go off, you are reawakening and you can speak to your grandma

:49:39.:49:42.

and play with your childhood pets. Sorry to be pessimistic but if you

:49:43.:49:47.

know there is an end point where you are facing oblivion, you might put

:49:48.:49:51.

interesting things, while you still have time. I think there is still

:49:52.:49:55.

that anyway because of the separation between this life and the

:49:56.:49:59.

afterlife. Death teaches you about life, death teaches you to live. It

:50:00.:50:05.

is very different... What if you have a crisis of faith when you are

:50:06.:50:11.

on your deathbed and wonder if you have wasted your life?

:50:12.:50:22.

There is nothing wrong with that, when big things happen, be it sad,

:50:23.:50:26.

like a death, or a marriage or a birth, we wonder what we should do.

:50:27.:50:29.

That is a good thing, it is not a sad thing. Surely... Surely it is

:50:30.:50:34.

better to put -- to do that sooner rather than later. Jacqueline? On

:50:35.:50:40.

one particular occasion I was so close to death that the chief

:50:41.:50:43.

surgeon stood at the end of my bed at half past 12 at night and said to

:50:44.:50:46.

my daughter, if she survives until morning, we will operate at seven

:50:47.:50:53.

o'clock. When you are that close to death your mind is very focused and

:50:54.:51:00.

you are not being deluded or distracted by other things. You are

:51:01.:51:06.

simply looking at the matter of death. When you survive something

:51:07.:51:13.

like that, life becomes very, very precious and you want to make the

:51:14.:51:18.

absolute best of it. But make no mistake, death is a scary place to

:51:19.:51:22.

go and very often is accompanied by intense pain. I have seen several

:51:23.:51:33.

people die over my lifetime. Several of those deaths were quiet, peaceful

:51:34.:51:39.

and of great consolation. Two at least were horrendous. I firmly

:51:40.:51:49.

believe that either a conviction of no faith at all or an absolute

:51:50.:51:57.

conviction of the love of God gives great strength at the moment of

:51:58.:52:04.

death. Right in front of you is Carrie from the British Unionist

:52:05.:52:07.

Association, a Pastoral care trainer. Do you think there is a

:52:08.:52:13.

default position from some that you need to have a deathbed conversion,

:52:14.:52:18.

have you seen that? Have you seen people in that situation who have

:52:19.:52:24.

been given press or offered sacraments who really did not want

:52:25.:52:29.

that? That's not right in front of you is Carrie from the British

:52:30.:52:32.

Humanist Association. I totally respect where you are coming from,

:52:33.:52:38.

those who have had faith in life will have faith in their death.

:52:39.:52:41.

Those who believe it is the one life we have will be working through our

:52:42.:52:46.

lives to make sure we fulfil it to the fullest we can to lead a good

:52:47.:52:51.

life and that death is just a conclusion of that and we enter.

:52:52.:52:56.

Where I have found it difficult is where I have seen faith brought to

:52:57.:53:00.

people as if it is something they should have to have a conversion,

:53:01.:53:05.

where it can be the best irrelevant and at worst very intrusive and

:53:06.:53:08.

really quite offensive when somebody actually has their own belief

:53:09.:53:13.

system, like I certainly have, that this is my life and I want to live

:53:14.:53:20.

it to the fullest and to help people and I will end my life in this way

:53:21.:53:25.

as well. My reflections will be upon what I hope will be life was spent.

:53:26.:53:32.

APPLAUSE Faiza? Just reflecting on this, my

:53:33.:53:36.

mother, sadly, passed away a couple of months ago. She was of the Muslim

:53:37.:53:41.

faith, it really helped her, she came close to death several times

:53:42.:53:44.

and it gave her strength in those times. For those of us dealing with

:53:45.:53:49.

people that die and how health Dann faith helps that those times, I am

:53:50.:53:53.

really jealous of those that definitely believe she is in heaven.

:53:54.:53:58.

I have a lot of questions. When you know it, when you really believe

:53:59.:54:04.

that they are somewhat better, I am sure it helps. How can it not?

:54:05.:54:06.

APPLAUSE My mum passed away a few years ago

:54:07.:54:09.

and when I think about her and look to hurt for guidance I look up, the

:54:10.:54:14.

idea was I don't look down, I look to a place where I think she will

:54:15.:54:19.

be. But her memories survive. Her memories around me and I suffuse my

:54:20.:54:24.

children with her wisdom, I repeat the things that she said to me, I

:54:25.:54:27.

want them to be inspired by the things that she did. I am Jewish, I

:54:28.:54:32.

have a very firm belief in God, the Jewish view is that this world is

:54:33.:54:45.

almost a waiting room for the world to come. Not to say that all the

:54:46.:54:48.

things you say are not true, we should live a fulfilling life, be

:54:49.:54:50.

good and kind for being in the moment, but there might be something

:54:51.:54:53.

in the world to come that will reflect that. But there is no proof,

:54:54.:54:56.

none of us can say whether that lady who spoke so beautifully and

:54:57.:54:58.

courageously is right or that you are right. Faith and proofs are

:54:59.:55:00.

mutually exclusive, we have to follow what is in our hearts and I

:55:01.:55:03.

could not survive without my Jewish faith because of that. Not to be

:55:04.:55:10.

disrespectful, but the lady over there said it is not a delusion.

:55:11.:55:15.

Frankly, it is. I am sorry but to think that the absence of life in

:55:16.:55:21.

your body means that you are going to go off into some other world and

:55:22.:55:26.

live there, it can be proven, just because it can be disproven neither

:55:27.:55:30.

does not mean we should believe it. Also what the lady was just saying

:55:31.:55:37.

then, you have this expectation that you are going somewhere else and I

:55:38.:55:40.

think was Richard Dawkins who said that this allows people to sort

:55:41.:55:45.

of... Oh, well, this life does not matter and we don't have to care

:55:46.:55:48.

about the embarrassment, when really we should, we should protect our

:55:49.:55:54.

planet. I did not say that. I know you did not specifically say that

:55:55.:55:58.

but that argument is made. Some people are of that opinion but many

:55:59.:56:01.

people of faith would say that of course we had to care for each other

:56:02.:56:06.

and the environment. Hang on a second, allow me to come to Elaine.

:56:07.:56:12.

People of faith generally care enormously about people in this

:56:13.:56:19.

society. What if you do not... Sorry, Elaine, what if you do not

:56:20.:56:24.

have Jesus Christ, you have not found Jesus Christ? Should you be

:56:25.:56:30.

worried? I think that is something for us all to consider, what is our

:56:31.:56:36.

faith, what does it mean? Who is God? We need to look into that. We

:56:37.:56:41.

are all intelligent people and can do that. The Christian faith is

:56:42.:56:47.

simple. But I think also we are missing something here because we

:56:48.:56:51.

need to be looking... We have started talking about people who had

:56:52.:56:54.

died and peoples memories and whether it is a good death whether

:56:55.:56:59.

there is pain. Our book was really about talking about dying, we need

:57:00.:57:03.

to talk about faith, yes, but we also need to talk about people's

:57:04.:57:07.

fulfilment of their lives, they might be going to die at 45 but have

:57:08.:57:12.

they fulfilled their lives? What have they done? Can they look back

:57:13.:57:18.

and feel good about their life, have they finished it? Have they had all

:57:19.:57:22.

the medicine they should have, is it time to say...? Is everyone going to

:57:23.:57:27.

be OK that people leave behind? That is what my father was worried about.

:57:28.:57:33.

His last words were... I said I love you, dad. He said, and I love all of

:57:34.:57:39.

you. I had a patient who died in her 40s and she made sure that her child

:57:40.:57:43.

and her husband could run the house on their own. They did nothing

:57:44.:57:47.

before. She put all her energies of the rest of her life into that. We

:57:48.:57:56.

need to talk about it. People shut off, very rarely do people talk

:57:57.:58:00.

about death. We need to, we need to talk about what we would want as if

:58:01.:58:06.

we were facing death. Would we want to be resuscitating, would we want

:58:07.:58:09.

to be kept alive if we had a bad/? We can do that, it is all in place.

:58:10.:58:16.

-- if we had a bad stroke? Faith is a part of it, as a Christian it is

:58:17.:58:21.

an enormous part of my life... And should we have the ability to be and

:58:22.:58:25.

the law to be in place to allow us to slip away is another huge debate?

:58:26.:58:29.

With seconds of the programme left, we do not have time to go into. But

:58:30.:58:35.

on another occasion we will, and on previous occasions we have. Thank

:58:36.:58:39.

you for your brilliant contribution, Jacqueline. Thank you very much

:58:40.:58:40.

indeed. As always, the debates will continue

:58:41.:58:41.

online and on Twitter. We're back from Salford next Sunday

:58:42.:58:43.

for a special on globalisation, is it making the world

:58:44.:58:46.

a better place? But for now, it's goodbye

:58:47.:58:48.

and have a great Sunday.

:58:49.:58:52.

Nicky Campbell presents a special edition from Oasis Academy MediaCityUK, Salford. He asks:

Is it right to take more than 50% in tax?

Do we have a right not to be offended?

Is death easier if you believe in God?