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ANY QUESTIONS
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Journey of a Lifetime
Transcript: Any Questions? 18 January 2008
Chairman: Jonathan Dimbleby

PANELLISTS: Lord Steel
Mary Beard
Francis Maude
Frank Field

FROM: St George's Centre, Ashtead, Surrey


DIMBLEBY
Welcome to Ashtead which is just inside the M25 below the Epsom Downs in Surrey. We are at the St. George's Centre as the guests of the University of the Third Age - U3A as it's known. In 2006 the senior citizens of Ashtead formed their own branch of the U3A and the 400 members now have 50 groups to study all manner of subjects from philosophy to music, computer studies and current affairs.

On our panel: Lord Steel was once leader of the Liberal Party, much later the Scottish parliament's first presiding officer. The son of a Presbyterian minister, who was posted to colonial Kenya, David Steel first went to what is now Kenya when he was 11 years old. He was there again last year for a television series called Empire's Children and he's known President Kibaki for 25 years or more.

Frank Field was once invited to think the unthinkable by Tony Blair who made him the minister for welfare reform. He did just as he was told and duly got the sack. Now he thinks and says what he wants, most recently at the New Year that - if Gordon Brown is to - I quote - ascend from the slough of despondency into which he's plunged his government solid competence must be the order of the day.

Francis Maude was one of the first Tory modernisers, saying publicly that the party should modernise or die. With Cameron - with David Cameron at the helm he's in the shadow cabinet as shadow minister for the cabinet office.

Mary Beard is a fellow of Newnham College and Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge. She's also classics editor the Times Literary Supplement and the author of many books on her speciality. But she ranges widely, telling readers of her blog that she is - I quote - wickedly subversive commentator on both the modern and ancient world. She's the fourth member of our panel. [CLAPPING]

Our first question please.

THOMAS
Frances Thomas. In view of yesterday's plane crash at Heathrow does the team think that the proposed plan to increase runways and the number of flights is a safe option?

DIMBLEBY
Francis Maude.

MAUDE
Well I mean obviously safety has got to be absolutely crucial for any plans for expanding airports and there's a whole lot of other considerations actually about expanding Heathrow and Stansted, to do with the environment in particular - there's a huge issue about the level of emissions from Heathrow particularly if the third runway happens and I think it needs to be looked at very carefully. If you look around the world you see that where ever there's a new airport, new airport capacity, being developed it's pretty much nearly always on the coast and very often it's being built out into an estuary or into the sea on the edge of the land where safety considerations are much easier to deal with, environmental issues and particularly the noise pollution - which is a major concern in an area like this sort of halfway between Heathrow and Gatwick a major concern. So I think we need to think for the much longer term in a different kind of way about airports. Heathrow is surrounded by urban development and I think what we saw yesterday was a horrendous accident which could have been with a minuscule difference in what happened had really appalling consequences.

DIMBLEBY
Does that mean that you favour no to the third runway and a shift gradually of Heathrow to the coast?

MAUDE
No I think it's - I mean I think building a new airport on the coast is a fantastically complicated and difficult and expensive thing. If there is going to be expansion of airports, which I think there is a case for, then it's got to be done in a way that meets very exacting safety requirements and very exacting environmental requirements.

DIMBLEBY
Lord Steel.

STEEL
Well I've spent, what, nearly 40 years commuting weekly between Edinburgh and Heathrow Airport, so I feel very strongly on this subject. In fact only this year I've given up doing that and I travel by train. But I [CLAPPING] and I'm going to have a go at Francis Maude here because the last thing I did before I came out to come to this programme was to book myself online to go to Brussels next week to speak at an event and it's going to take me less than two hours and yet people fly from Heathrow to Newcastle, Heathrow to Manchester, Heathrow to Glasgow, Heathrow to Edinburgh - why? - because the government of which Francis you were such a distinguished member spent nothing on modernising our railways like they have in the rest of Europe. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Just on the - on the question itself - does it have any impact this disaster on your judgement about whether there should be a third runway?

STEEL
Yes I think it has and my view is there should be no third runway and we should spend the money on modernising our railway system so that we don't have so many flights coming in and out of London. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Professor Beard.

BEARD
Well as nobody was badly hurt in this it's I think okay to say look this was a wake up call about Heathrow, dangers of air transport, dangers of an overcrowded airport. And the beautiful coincidence of Mr Brown being waiting to take off while this near crash - this crash was happening makes it even more auspicious. I mean if I was a Roman I would have said here that was an omen about the future of air transport. And I absolutely agree with David - I think I would go on rail anywhere but while it costs you about five times as much as it does to take a train to Edinburgh than to hop on a budget airline we're sunk. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Frank Field.

FIELD
I agree with Mary, I think there's a parable here in that the plane coming into Heathrow just fell - almost fell apart and collapsed, almost symbolic of what's going on in Europe and the Prime Minister rightly taking off and going to the hugely new strong economist - economies in the Far East. So I think I agree totally with Mary - there's a very important picture for us to grasp. But I would make the plea that we should be phasing out Heathrow, I think it's immensely dangerous, we live in a different age now from the age in which Heathrow was built up, we've been lucky not to have more horrendous terrorist attacks than we have done. The chances are some dreadful things will happen over London. I would go for what I thought was going to be Francis's option and that is a new airport in the mouth of the Thames and the sort of train that David Steel was going to get on to go to Brussels we'd have linking that airport with London itself. But I think it's a dreadful prospect to add yet another runway to Heathrow. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
If you have thoughts about that Any Answers may be for you after the Saturday broadcast of Any Questions, it's number 08700 100 444 and the e-mail address any.answers@bbc.co.uk. Our next question please.

LEIGHTON
Barbara Leighton. In the light of the post-election problems and extreme violence in Kenya what more should the international community, including the UK government, be doing to bring about a quick and lasting peace?

DIMBLEBY
David Steel.

STEEL
Well it's actually very difficult for Britain, as the former colonial power, to be over anxious to intervene in this matter, it's a very, very tricky relationship. I think we must hope that Kofi Annan, when he goes there in the next few days, will be able to try and mediate between the two different parties. There is no doubt in mind, absolutely no doubt, that the election was stolen from the people of Kenya. And one of the lessons that we've learnt - well I hope we've learnt from this - is it's quite hopeless for the European Union and the Commonwealth Secretariat to send people like me - not on this occasion but I have on other occasions - to go and monitor elections when it was fatally flawed before it started because a year ago President Kibaki appointed all the members of the Electoral Commission himself without consulting the other parties, something that President Moi's predecessor never did. And you know in every country, in this country, the boundary commission has always been the members appointed in consultation with the other party leaders - I was always having to agree names put forward by the Prime Minister when I was leader of the Liberal Party. That's how it should be. The body organising an election must be independent and if it's not independent there's no point in sending people out to put a rubber stamp on something that is fatally flawed.

DIMBLEBY
You were very supportive in 2002 of ...

STEEL
I was, yes I was.

DIMBLEBY
... President Kibaki's election because he seemed to be, from your perspective, open, accountable, going to confront corruption, it must be very depressing for you obviously but what went wrong that you should end up with this level of horror?

MAUDE
Well he lost the election.

STEEL
No what went wrong unfortunately is that President Kibaki, you're quite right, in the 2002 election was leader of a coalition, all the other parties agreed that in order to get rid of the previous government there should be one candidate and he was the oldest and the most experienced and the others, including [indistinct words] that backed him and I was very much in support as well. And they won the election, they had an agreement among all the party leaders as to what they would do and he tore that up after he was in and he carried on in the old ways and significantly he was backed in this last election by President Moi, the two corrupters together. And it's a great tragedy what's happened in Kenya but we must hope - I can tell that already the British government is considering extending the travel bans on the people round about Kibaki, development aid has been stopped to the Kenya government, the EU has stopped that and we must keep up the pressure - he's not been recognised by the British government, he's not been recognised by any of the European governments - we must keep up the pressure and hope that we can get, first of all, a forensic recount of the vote to see what went wrong and secondly to have another election as soon as possible.

DIMBLEBY
Just one more thing before I bring the others in because of your experience. It's always been said that the issue in Kenya is not tribal but has been between the haves and the have nots, do you see it at risk of becoming tribal and therefore in some ways very much more dangerous?

STEEL
Unfortunately party politics in Kenya has always been quite substantially tribally based but not exclusively. And I know that Raila Odinga, for example, had already pencilled in two or three names of the Kikuku tribe to be in his cabinet, so that his determined - one of his manifesto promises in fact - was to try and detribalise Kenyan politics. But it's more - as Michael Holman, the Financial Times man, who's long experience of Kenya [disturbance on line] tribal alignments as well. But if you've been, as I have, many times to the slums of Nairobi they're simply terrible and the government have done nothing about it. And there was great hope that they were going to get rid of this government, get a new government, they showed it in the parliamentary election on the same ballot on the same day - they chucked out 20 ministers and we're asked to believe that they got rid of that government but wanted to keep the president - it's just not credible.

DIMBLEBY
[CLAPPING] What more, the question is, could be done Frank Field?

FIELD
Well I think there's a lesson to learn in that David for a year had been saying and expressing his worries about the election and particularly the Electoral Commission and after all we are members of the Commonwealth and we have a secretariat and the minimum we should have expected for those sorts of warnings to be taken up seriously and measures taken to prevent the outcome that we've actually witnessed because it's a tragedy on a ginormous scale in that here one thought it was one country which was not governed by tribal politics but had actually moved beyond that. And now the clock has been turned back. So the cost of us not giving a lead through the Commonwealth I think has been very substantial indeed. But I think, partly because I disagree with David, when he says we must be careful because we're a colonial power, I think that can lead to paralysis on our side. I think we should be much, much more robust about the murderous regime in Zimbabwe. And the idea ... [CLAPPING] and the idea that we shouldn't do everything we can to rattle Mugabe's cage is not a policy that I agree with. But I agree with the analysis of David's which is quite properly we have to move from where we are now and that is the Commonwealth ought to be organising the rest of the world that cares about these issues, not to recognise the election result and therefore one would hope push them into a new election.

DIMBLEBY
Mary Beard.

BEARD
I agree with much of that but I think there is - there's a different way of thinking about how you look forward here and I'm never convinced that stopping aid is the best way of getting a country back on its feet honestly. And in Kenya I think there is a particular difficulty - there is a very large amount of its revenues depends on tourism and often - and British and German tourism in particular and this is the one thing that is going to put a kibosh on people wanting to go to Kenya and that starts a downward spiral. So I think we ought to be careful not to compound the problem by making a stand and refusing aid etc. etc., that you have to think a bit more into the medium term than that.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you. And Francis Maude.

MAUDE
[CLAPPING] Well I think there's a limit to what we can do. I think the real danger of this - obviously there's some horrific consequences for the people of Kenya in the short term but there's a real danger that what an event like this does is to reinforce a dangerous and rather patronising attitude that's sometimes held elsewhere that somehow democracy can't work in Africa and it can. There's been some difficulties in lots of places but actually there are some countries in Africa which have made a terrific success, which are stable, relatively uncorrupt, where democracy - a multi party plural democracy works. And something like this, which catches all the attention and all the sort of 24-hour news coverage can damage the perception of Africa immensely much. I have some sympathy with what Frank says when he says that we mustn't be sort of too inhibited, too restrained, by being the former colonial power but equally I think that the strongest voices with the president - the apparently non elected president of Kenya - will be other African voices, it'll be other states in Africa which says this is not acceptable. And I wish to heaven they would do the same with Zimbabwe because actually it could be sorted out by other African - neighbouring African countries, South Africa could sort out the problems with Zimbabwe with Mugabe tomorrow if there was the will to do it.

DIMBLEBY
[CLAPPING] Lord Steel.

STEEL
Can I just come back very quickly to Frank Field because I'm not saying that because we're the former colonial power we shouldn't be in the lead, certainly we should be in the lead but we should use our influence collectively through the Commonwealth secretariat and through the European Union. Louis Michell the European Commissioner for international development was here in London yesterday, I saw him, and the European Union is sticking together both diplomatically in Nairobi and collectively in Europe to stop the current flow of aid to the Kenya government, not to the Kenya people but budgetary to the Kenya government. And I think that's the way in which we should be taking the lead.

DIMBLEBY
Frank.

FIELD
I was making a plea for us to maximise the use of the Commonwealth. This extraordinary organisation which has rich and poor, black and white, Muslim, Christians - if ever there was a meeting ground for the big issues that the world has to face it's actually within the Commonwealth who are united in this very strange way. And I cannot understand why successive governments try and underplay the role that this wonderful body should play and could play. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Do you have an answer to your own question Barbara Leighton?

LEIGHTON
I asked the question because this church has a very strong relationship with people in Kenya and we are in contact daily and of course again it's the innocent people that have no food, no water, they are frightened, they can't believe that their country has gone into such violence. And the fine line there is between government sanctions and on the government but it's the aid that these people need to survive. A country of which we've been to that live on a breadline anyway and now have just lost even that breadline.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you. [CLAPPING] Our next question please.

ELLIS
Chris Ellis. Does the panel have any practical suggestions for effective deterrents for the sort of behaviour that led to the senseless and tragic murder of Gary Newlove?

DIMBLEBY
Practical suggestions for the effective deterrents for the sort of behaviour that led to that tragic murder. Frank Field.

FIELD
I think we have to think of it at least in two parts. One is it's totally right that voters want action to be taken and therefore one looks for the law to do that and I think most of you - but maybe I judge you wrongly - feel that you don't get good value, proper value, for the money that you pay for our police force. That's not to knock the police force. There's all sorts of restraints on them and so on. But one certainly needs a different sort of response and a higher priority given to the yobbish behaviour that is now beginning to so distinguish our country. And after many, many - and many decades of trying to think of policies and ways of changing the debate I now do not believe that we'll change it until we as voters have the right to elect our area superintendents, so they know this. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Do you believe - sorry on that one point, I'll let you carry on - do you believe that if you elected the area superintendents you would effectively be able to say to them this will be your priority, these are the resources you will need to put into it, whatever you want we'll back you regardless?

FIELD
I think two things. One is that their minds will be wonderfully concentrated, as Dr Johnson said to be hung what is it in a week or a month's time concentrates the mind wonderfully, and that would work. Secondly, I do think we have to - we have to have different arrangements about taxes and I think it would be the basis in which we as local communities would decide we would pay more because it would be going to this budget and we would say how it is spent. That's the first thing. The second thing is to recognise that this quite fundamental change has occurred in our country and that centres on the nurturing of children. And from Edwardian times onwards we as a community were obsessed in the sorts of people we were going to be and of course lots of us failed but the great aim was that we were going to develop our best selves more and more of us doing that. And we just got careless and the whole thing has dropped away and I do think we have to rethink from the bottom up, from how what we teach in schools, pre and postnatal classes, the whole lot about how - that one of the most important functions anybody is going to have to be a parent and we cannot assume they get this knowledge by osmosis and that in fact as our forefathers and foremothers thought that this has to be a central concern for all of us as a community. And I don't see that priority being established now. So there's a short term, but don't let's kid ourselves that we can do it all by the law, we were a self governing community where you didn't need the rules because we knew how to behave and that's what's been lost. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Mary Beard.

BEARD
I'd like to think you were right Frank but I think you're being a tad nostalgic honestly. I mean crimes like this shock us terribly and it's right that they shock us terribly and it's right that we should think - take a rain check on what we should be doing about this kind of thing. But we also at the same time ought not to imagine that these crimes honestly are common, we also ought not to imagine if we were to walk back a hundred years into early Edwardian Britain that we would find the streets of London or even Ashtead any safer than they are now. And ...

DIMBLEBY
Just to - let Frank in just briefly on that.

BEARD
That's not to condone it, that's just saying ...

FIELD
Mary there are obviously real problems in using these data over time but for the last year we have figures, a couple of years ago in Birkenhead, there were more crimes against the person in Birkenhead alone than there were nationally 50 years ago. That's the dimensions of the change.

DIMBLEBY
Mary, back to you.

BEARD
I think there's no point in getting into a discussion about exactly how you're going to measure this but I suggest that anybody - anybody who wants to get a flavour of late Victorian or Edwardian England should go and take advantage of the Times Online website and look at the crime pages and you'll get a very nasty shock about crimes a hundred years ago. But I mean I think - in a funny way I come back round to you, although I disagree with your analysis, I think there is quite a lot of sympathy with what you're saying and in some ways I feel let down by - by the slogans of New Labour because I thought that it was tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime and I thought what we were being told [CLAPPING] was that we weren't going to have knee jerk reactions about lock 'em up or fine them and ASBOS etc., we were going to really look at what was underpinning people's lives and entry into criminal activity. And from the outside I see very little government attention going into the causes of crime which is going to be the only thing in the long run which is going to solve this. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Francis Maude.

MAUDE
Well there are lots of layers on which we can do much better as a society here. Frank is absolutely right about the police, I don't think we get nearly good enough value from the police. It's shocking how - in how many places a police officer's beat he will only spend or she will only spend one hour out of five actually on the beat providing the kind of presence and reassurance that people want because the rest is spent back in the station doing the paperwork. That can be dealt with, that can be made much better. I actually rather agree with Frank that having police much more directly accountable to their neighbourhoods can make a difference, I'm not sure whether area superintendents but actually the police authority being directly elected I think would make a huge difference. And then it's police looking to the people they're serving not to the Home Office and Whitehall and the Home Secretary, which is what they do at the moment. There's clearly an issue here about bail, one of the people who was convicted of this appalling murder was released on bail two days before on conditions which he immediately broke, conditions which would have prevented him being in the place where he was involved in this murder and we can't know what was in the judge's mind when he made - he released that person but now that needs seriously looking at and there is a sense that because of the pressure on prison places that judges are releasing people much more than they would otherwise choose to. And just a word about prisons. I mean I'm increasingly shocked by our prison system, by how many tell you, if you talk to people who've been through the prison system, will say I have never found it easier to get drugs than when I've been in prison. More people come out prison drug addicts than go in there and for what is meant to be a secure environment that is absolutely outrageous. The third - the last thing I think is the point about behaviour. There have always been rowdy drunken youths, there always have been, there always will be but what is shocking about this and it happens in too many places is the ease with which that rowdiness, antisocial behaviour, being a nuisance tipped over into motiveless horrible brutally which trunkated someone's life. And I don't know what goes on in people's minds that enables that to happen. I do think that a police presence more readily available, less predictable, would be helpful but I do think also there's a lack of role models in people's - lot of young, particularly young men's lives that give them something which would mould their behaviour in a different way.

DIMBLEBY
David Steel.

STEEL
I quite agree with all that Francis has said. I'd just like to add a couple of things. I was reading in one of the Scottish papers this morning and I've no reason to believe that it's different from England that the consumption of alcohol in Scotland has doubled over the last 40 years. And I think there is evidence that a lot of that is among young people, sadly, binge drinking. And I think we've got to tackle that. One way of course is to increase the tax on alcohol to make it more expensive. The other is to ask the retailers and the manufacturers to be a little more responsible in encouraging the mass sale of low cost alcopops and things like that that teenagers like to get hold of and I think there has to be a great responsibility there. And the last thing I'd say is that I take an example from the small town near where I live and even small towns have had this problem of teenage gangs, so it's not confined to the cities, and near to me a person who died left his shop to the town and it's a two storey building and some volunteers got together and they've created what they call a dry barb, it's not a very attractive name, but it's a wonderful place right in the town centre where teenagers can go in, there are computers there, there's a pool table, there are adults they can have discussions with, there's somewhere for them to go rather than just hang about getting drunk on the streets. And I think more of that kind of volunteer spirit might help the young people. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
A reminder of the Any Answers number 08700 100 444 and the e-mail address any.answers@bbc.co.uk. To our next please.

RETZLAFF
Robin Retzlaff. Labour's attempt to highlight the rather petty funding issues of the Conservatives is political dishonesty at its worst. Shouldn't Gordon Brown do the honourable thing and sack the incompetent Peter Hain? [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
David Steel.

STEEL
I'll tell you what staggered me about these stories and that is the amount of money involved, I mean I cannot understand how fighting to be deputy leader of the Labour Party you have to spend £100,000. I say this is not a party political issue, I was astonished that in the recent Liberal Democrat leadership the candidates were allowed to spend £50,000 each. I mean I was the first person elected in this country by the ordinary party members to be a party leader who spent a few hundred pounds. The idea you spend £50,000 or a £100,000 to be deputy leader of a party is crazy. And I read also that the shadow treasury spokesman, I think this is what your question refers to, has raised half a million pounds for his office. What on earth for? I mean it is absolutely ridiculous. [CLAPPING] And there are many things I admire about the American democratic system but one thing I hate is the fact that money matters so much and it's starting to happen here and we ought to stop it. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Against that ..

STEEL
I haven't answered the question.

DIMBLEBY
Against that background - yes Robin Retzlaff says should Gordon Brown now sack - quotes - the incompetent Peter Hain?

STEEL
I'm happy to wait till the inquiries are over and see what they say.

DIMBLEBY
[AUDIENCE NOISE] Frank Field.

FIELD
Well they're clearly after our blood tonight, I expect we'll get MPs pay in a moment for which we'll be bashed around the room. Sadly this is not going to be an isolated event, on past experience, and there will be more. So we ought to look at the rules that govern how politicians behave in these circumstances and I do believe that we ought to move to a situation where the parliamentary commissioner for standards and the electoral commission might actually have the same guidelines as to what should be registered and what shouldn't, so there'd be even less excuse for getting those things wrong. But also we would introduce a stage where they would very quickly judge whether there's something of substance to answer here. And I think until that stage, given that we have - and this is not sour grapes - far too many ministers it's quite possible for someone to stand down while waiting for that interim judgement. And if those bodies [CLAPPING] and if the bodies then say there is no - there's no case to answer the person then resumes their position.

DIMBLEBY
Do you believe that that is what Peter Hain should do?

FIELD
Well that's not what exists at the moment ...

DIMBLEBY
But Peter Hain could simply ask the Prime Minister presumably - I'd like to stand aside because of this furore and then come back in if I'm cleared.

FIELD
In politics it's usually events help make the wind and I'd have liked the Prime Minister had said you know this is a new government, we are approaching this differently, no one's judging whether you're guilty or not, there's five other ministers in that department, it will perfectly happily run for a few weeks without you being present.

BEARD
You mean he's on the equivalent of bail is he or something, he's released on bail?

FIELD
No, no, no bail means you can get out. It's the opposite of that. But I do think there is a major problem with how you, as the voters, view us as politicians and it's a jolly nice audience tonight but I felt the undercurrent that you wanted us to feel at that question...

DIMBLEBY
What did you think the undercurrent was?

FIELD
I think there's one of hostility to politicians, people in public life. And I'm not moaning about that because that's the position that we're now in, I just make a plea to you what are the long term consequences? I never now go to a school and make a plea for young people to become politicians, I don't want to have the sort of life that I see so many of my colleagues having and that is a most terrible, terrible outcome for a democracy. And while we may be responsible, you as voters are also responsible how you always want to believe the worst of us and never generous about believing the best of us. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
We've got a very large audience here but it's not scientifically selected. I want to come to you just to pick up on what Frank just said and ask was your undercurrent, which he detected, there was murmur, was it reflective of a hostility to politicians, a loud murmur, hostility to politicians or was it exclusively on the Peter Hain question, would you put your hands up those who feel share Frank's view that there is a hostility that you share towards politicians, would you put your hands up? Who thinks it was just about the Peter Hain issue that you disagreed with David Steel? The overwhelming audience here is not expressing a hostility but has a view on the Peter Hain issue Frank.

FIELD
But in the warm up question before this programme Jonathan you asked people whether they'd ever cheated in exams. [LAUGHTER] And - and - and - and three repentant sinners held up their hands. So I don't - I wouldn't put too much on that vote. [AUDIENCE NOISE]

DIMBLEBY
You're clearly not after a seat in Ashtead. Francis Maude.

MAUDE
Well I think this audience is absolutely straightforward and has given ... [CLAPPING] given a completely honest account of itself tonight. I mean should Peter Hain be sacked? He effectively has been, I mean the Prime Minister, leader of his party, has said that he's incompetent, you know how can you retain a minister who've said is incompetent? I mean if that's what you're saying about the ministers you're trying to keep, I mean what do you think about the ones you are trying to get rid of. There's - I mean on the broader party funding thing, I've been chairman of the Conservative Party and the reality is if you have a democracy you have politicians and if you have an effective plural democracy you have parties. And parties do require money to operate. I - and there are two places it can come from, it can come from the public - people - and to some extent organisations giving money through donations or through membership or it can come from the taxpayer. Now I have yet to find an audience which gets enthusiastic about the taxpayer giving more money to political parties and I would much prefer - I would much prefer us as parties to get much better at engaging with the public much more effectively and more widely than getting our money ...

DIMBLEBY
What is your - what is your answer to David Steel's question about the 500,000 that he says - that the shadow chancellor needs?

STEEL
You talk about getting money from the public, you get money from tax exiled millionaires who pour money into key seats to try and distort the result. [CLAPPING]

FIELD
Let's just take this head on - pouring money into seats to distort the result? Actually to campaign, so that candidates can put their messages before the public.

STEEL
Well they live in a tax exile and contribute nothing to the economy of the country.

MAUDE
You're in the House of Lords so you're much removed from the daily [AUDIENCE NOISE] cut and thrust of elections but it's just worth pointing out that the House of Commons, Tories I think by and large voted against this, House of Commons in the last year voted to give itself - to give individual members of parliament - a communications allowance of £10,000 a year. Now that is used to - it's able to be used to promote the activities of the MPs. So you're saying that actually when an incumbent, sitting MP, can use taxpayers' money to promote themselves in some way it's wrong for a competing candidate who wants the electorate to have a proper choice to be able to campaign effectively against that sitting MP. ....

DIMBLEBY
Can I ask you to answer specifically ..

MAUDE
... democracy costs money, it has to come from somewhere, I'd much rather it came from donors and from the public than from the taxpayer.

DIMBLEBY
Can I ask you to answer specifically the point raised by Lord Steel in relation to George Osborne's why on earth does he need £500,000 for his office.

MAUDE
Oh well I'll tell you exactly why because he's facing a Chancellor of the Exchequer who has at his disposal the resources of the entire Her Majesty's Treasury, funded by the taxpayer, containing 3,000 or whatever it is civil servants, plus a whole raft of special advisors who have a political role who are also paid for by the taxpayer. That's why frontbench spokesmen need proper resourcing so that we can hold this government to account and campaign effectively to replace him which I hope will happen as soon as possible.

STEEL
There's already a parliamentary scheme that provides that. [CLAPPING]

DIMBLEBY
Mary Beard from outside looking at this.

BEARD
The question was actually about Hain.

DIMBLEBY
Yes it was.

BEARD
And not about George Osborne's office. And I - my problem with Hain waiting to see what everybody discovers is the truth about all this is how terribly feeble he looks. Now I remember I used to think - I used to think the one thing I'd really like someone in power to do is to say sorry, you know, fair cop gov, you know, it was me. I spent years wanting Blair to say sorry, I didn't mean it. Now I've got a politician sort of saying sorry it was my mistake, I plead guilty and when I do hear it I don't like it, I don't like it because I think I can't get away with that, I'm not going to say to the tax man terrible sorry January 31st past but I was so busy and that's what's ...[CLAPPING] I mean Frank is so gloomy about political life, I'm not quite sure I feel as gloomy as he. I mean if you look at it over the last few years there's constantly these funding scandals coming up and obviously Francis is trying to deal with them and to get good funding schemes. But I look at it and I think look every couple of months somebody's done something with the money in the till or hasn't. Why is that? Well one, explanation one, they're all a load of crooks. Now actually I don't think you are, I don't think you're all a load of crooks. So if you're not all a load of crooks then there's something the matter with these rules you've saddled yourselves with, I don't know what it is but they're obviously too complicated, they're too easy to get wrong, one pulls in one direction and one pulls in another, you ought to get your house in order by getting your rules straight and then police them, not have this mess.

MAUDE
Well we have been trying to get reform of party funding rules.

DIMBLEBY
And we aren't going to go there right now because we've probably can in future but we haven't got time because we must go on to our next question.

MAUDE
A very great pity.

DIMBLEBY
Yes life is often a very great pity. The Any Answers number on that and if in Any Answers you want to - not you Francis Maude - anyone else wants to talk about party funding rules they can, the number is - the number is 08700 100 444. We'll go to our next.

CHAPMAN
Elizabeth Chapman. Should organ donation be opt out rather than opt in?

DIMBLEBY
Gordon Brown has made it clear that he favours that it should be opt out. Mary Beard.

BEARD
Yes I think it should be opt out. Other countries manage this successfully and they save thousands and thousands of lives by it. I share with some of the objectives a certain squeamishness about the government's control of my body when I'm dead but I have so many other civil liberties issues to worry about right now that I'm not going to worry about my dead body. There is though one thing that I would do and I think there's some terribly bad rhetoric going on here and the one thing that I would change instantly is the term harvesting, which one sees on Casualty all the time and has come out in this debate. The organs of the dead person are going to be harvested. Now if somebody came to me and said my dearly beloved has just died but could they harvest their heart then that's the kind of thing that would make me say no thank you very much. There's a language here which makes you think that these people's organs are being treated as crops. And so I think the medical profession would be well advised to think about how they talk about this both to themselves and to us.

DIMBLEBY
[CLAPPING] Francis Maude.

MAUDE
Well I agree with Mary about the use of language, absolutely right. I mean I don't much mind what happens to my body after I'm dead, I doubt whether there'll be much demand for my organs anyway. But I think the real issue here is about families, I mean the circumstances in which this becomes an issue are where there's been a sudden, generally, a sudden death where the family are really going to traumatised by what's happened. If there's a clear decision by the person who's died they want their organs to be donated that's clear, that can happen, if there's a clearly expressed wish for it not to happen then that would be respected. Otherwise it's a family decision and families are in those circumstances confronting something unexpected, terribly traumatic, difficult to come to terms with and then having to make this quite sort of awesome decision. I think it's really difficult. And we do have a low level of organ donation in this country but it's not clear that having presumed consent, an opting out system, makes it very much better. Spain, I believe, has one of the highest levels of donation in Europe and doesn't have that. I think it's about awareness, I think it is something that actually is difficult to legislate for, I think people should talk about this frankly among themselves, among families, so that people in families do know clearly what the wishes are and then that can be expressed clearly, quickly but it needs to be done, as Mary says, in a much more sensitive way than I suspect it sometimes is.

DIMBLEBY
Frank Field.

FIELD
I disagree totally with those two contributions. Earlier on we were talking about using the law to extend and protect our abilities freely to walk about the streets and I'm very mindful of the fact that politicians naturally think that everything will be dealt with by the law and I think we should be very careful where we use the law, it should be - we should be sparing with new laws rather than think oh yeah here's another area. But I would ask Mary to put - instead of thinking about harvesting her husband or partner's heart about this whole idea of presumed consent. If a pension company was actually going around saying oh I thought there was presumed consent that you wanted that pension, we've got all these contributions off you, we'd all be up in arms, saying it's actually an outrageous assumption, just because I didn't opt out of your - that you should actually behave in this way. I think we need to have a much wider debate about what is sacred in our society, we were going to take the blasphemy law off the statute book without hardly any debate the other day. I agree with doing that but what are the parameters that we think are so important that we want to defend? And I think the public debate I hope is initiated over this will actually lead to many more donors but it was very significant on the Today programme this week the bishop of Southwark who has regularly carried a card, he tried to renew his card, he hasn't heard much about what's happening to his card. Might we not get those things right before we actually start whipping people's organs out all over the place?

DIMBLEBY
Lord Steel.

STEEL
I think I disagree with Frank about this, I'm in favour of the opt out provision but I think it's possible to combine the opt out provision with personal wishes. After all we all fill in things for our driving licence, for our tax return, we fill in all sorts of forms, it's surely possible on those forms to say yes or no to willingness to donate my organs. Now - and I think that's the way to do it. [CLAPPING] It is a serious issue, there are 8,000 people waiting for organ donations now. And I had a friend who died waiting for a kidney transplant which he never managed to get and it was after that I took a donor card but I have to tell you Jonathan if I fell over during this programme you'd have difficulty finding the card because it's in my briefcase in the boot of the car taking me back to London. And I think that's the problem with the voluntary method, it doesn't really work quickly enough - my organs might be as useless as Francis's by the time they got to them.

DIMBLEBY
On which on unusual note we come to the end of this programme with a reminder of Any Answers, the number is 08700 100 444. That's all we have time for, please join us next week. From here in St George's Centre in Ashtead in Surrey goodbye. [CLAPPING]
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