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ANY QUESTIONS
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Journey of a Lifetime
Transcript: Any Questions?  21 March 2008


PRESENTER: Jonathan Dimbleby


PANELLISTS: BEN BRADSHAW MP: Minister of State for Health

POLLY TOYNBEE: Guardian Columnist

RUTH LEA: Economist

JESSE NORMAN: Conservative Parliamentary Candidate and Writer

From: Barrington Village Hall, Barrington, Somerset


DIMBLEBY:
Welcome to Somerset and the delightful village of Barrington where we are in the Village Hall as the guests of the Trustees. The Hall provides a host of activities for the 450 residents who live in the community which is set close by the Black Down Hills on the Somerset levels. On our Panel, Ben Bradshaw was a BBC reporter before he went into politics he is now Minister of State for the Dept of Health where he doubles as Minister for the South West. Not so long ago Jesse Norman was a Director for Barclays Bank now as a leading component of compassionate conservatism who also holds an honorary fellowship in philosophy at UCL, the University College of London, he belongs politically to the Cameron clan and is a Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party. David Cameron once blew political kisses at Polly Toynbee, the Guardian Columnist who firmly rebuffed his advances preferring more or less to nail her colours to Gordon Brown’s mast but she is by no means a Labour patsy. Indeed the Prime Minister must sometimes ask with friends like Polly who needs enemies? Ruth Lea worked in the Treasury before moving on to become variously ITN’s news editor, Head of Policy at the Institute of Directors, Director of the Centre of Policy Studies and she is now Economics Advisor to the banking group Arbuthnott and she is also the fourth member of our panel.
(APPLAUSE)

Our first question please?

TERRY IRWIN
Under which circumstances would MP’s be justified in following their consciences and the guidance of their religious leaders rather than their Party Whip?

DIMBLEBY:
This I presume Mr Irwin is in the context of the Cardinal saying that it would be monstrous to go through with the embryology bill that would permit hybrid humanand animal embryos?

TERRY IRWIN
That is correct.

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
I think MP’s should follow their conscience when they feel really passionately about something but you can’t expect to hold a government or a ministerial job and vote against the government that you are a part of. You have to go back to the back benches. That’s what you take for following your conscience. Governments have to be coalitions of people with a number of different opinions on different things who agree to stand together in reasonable solidarity otherwise you would never get any sensible coherent policies through at all but I think if you felt passionately and I wish many of them had felt more passionately about Iraq and done what John Denholm did then you vote against and you go to the back benches and take the consequences. On this occasion on the question of this embryology bill I think this is the most vitally important for anybody who suffers from Alzheimers, who suffers from Parkinsons who fears they or their family might. This research is vitally important, this is not a hybrid, this is not a mixture human DNA and animal DNA it is simply an animal casing of an egg and all of the DNA inside is human. And this is superstitious nonsense from the Cardinal and we should have nothing to do with it. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
Well I find myself in slightly an uncomfortable position of agreeing with Polly, surprising in some respects. I mean I think the thing is the first principle of government is that the government of the day should be able to get its business through the House of Commons as it were, they have been elected to do and so there is a rationale to a Party whip in Parliament along traditional lines but this is not one of those cases because this is a Bill on what is for a very large number of people an issue of conscience. It raises a whole host of moral issues in their minds around the treatment of embryos which are not a million miles away in some respects, in their minds at least from, the treatment of embryos in the abortion debate which is always treated as a moral matter and a matter of conscience and those issues are subject to a free vote and I think there is something absolutely monstrous if I may say so about the Government insisting on a whipped vote when actually this is an issue of conscience in which people should be able to follow their own views and I think there is a clear analogy with some of these other moral cases. They have already whipped the vote in the House of Lords and I just hope as I think my own party and the Lib Dems call for this should be a free vote in the House of Commons. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Ben Bradshaw?


BEN BRADSHAW
I think there is a justification for a free vote. This is not about those things. He was wrong I think in fact and I thought rather intemperate and rather emotive in the way that he criticized this legislation. As Polly said this is about using pre embryonic cells to do research that has the potential to ease the suffering of millions of people in this country. The government has taken the view that this is a good thing. We have free votes on issues of conscience like abortion, like the death penalty or where the government does not take a view. The government has taken a view so I think in this case the government is absolutely right to try to push this through to the potential benefit of many many people in this country.

DIMBLEBY:
If you are a catholic and one or two labour backbenchers have made it clear that they may rebel is it not an issue of conscience however from your perspective important the medical research breakthroughs might be.

BEN BRADSHAW
And I think the Chief Whip has said that he would be prepared to sanction people abstaining if that was how strongly they felt but I have to tell you Jonathan the other thing that slightly perturbs me about this. The Cardinal gives the impression that all Roman Catholics I think Opus Dei actually said that you can’t be a practicing Roman Catholic and support this legislation. That is offensive to many decent Roman Catholics who do support this kind of lifesaving research that has the potential to ease the suffering of thousands of people who are alive today. What about their welfare? What about their suffering? Rather than always concentrating on tiny, tiny pre embryonic cells that are not viable and are going to be destroyed anyway?

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I think the problem is when you are forced and you basically agree with the other members of the Panel it is very difficult to add anything but I would say this…..

DIMBLEBY:
There is a difference of view on the free vote of this issue regardless of what you… which is the core of the question which is when are you justified, when are MP’s justified in following the government and religious leaders rather than their conscience…..

RUTH LEA
Yes
I agree with you it’s just that quite a lot of the debate had actually gone on to the actual value of the Bill itself but I don’t think there is any question that MP’s should always follow their consciences else what are they there for? But I also do take the point from Ben that the government is there to push its particular business through and I think Jesse said that as well but he also mentioned the fact that if there are real objections to this Bill then MP’s can actually abstain and that strikes me as a very good way of solving this particular problem. So by all means yes vote on your conscience but if there are members of the government who really feel that they cannot support this Bill for whatever reason then they must abstain, they must be allowed to abstain.

DIMBLEBY:
You said Jesse Norman that it would be monstrous not to have a free vote. Why isn’t it enough to be permitted to abstain?

JESSE NORMAN
I think it goes back to the constitutional question or the traditional parliamentary arrangement over issues of conscience, issues of morality and once you have opened the door to an abstention then you have potentially opened the door to a large number of other votes that have traditionally been considered moral issues suddenly becoming under the government whip. Now it is very important on this issue not to confuse, two issues, questions, One is, is the Bill a good idea and the second is what will the whipping arrangements be for MP’s. You can perfectly reasonably believe this Bill is a good idea and also hold that it should be a free vote and that I think is the right position to be on and what is quite wrong is to use the natural feeling of sympathy which of course I share as deeply as any person in this room. My own mother died of Alzheimer’s disease before Christmas and she might have been one of those people who could have been saved by this technology but that is a different matter from how we should treat the issue of the voting procedure. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Free votes Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
Who gets to decide what is a moral issue. My moral issues may be very different to a Cardinal’s moral issues. I regard the issue of going to war as a profoundly moral issue with infinitely more effect on people’s lives and deaths than the matter of a few little cells that through some peculiar dogma that comes through the Vatican suddenly becomes a few people’s moral issue

DIMBLEBY:
Come back in on that…..

JESSE NORMAN
There is an established, or relatively established set of issues that count as moral issues and issues of war and peace have not traditionally been in those, in that group. There is a perfectly fair further question as to whether they should be included in those I absolutely share your view Polly again somewhat surprisingly that I wish more people had actually exercised their own conscience on the Iraq war and which we have seen already this week, revisiting it, was scandalously under justified by the government and poorly executed on the ground in some respects by them afterwards.

DIMBLEBY:
Thank you if you have thoughts about Any Answers may be for you after the Saturday broadcast of this programme. The number to ring is 08700 100 444 and the email address any.answers @ bbc.co.uk. Our next question please.


NORMAN HUDSON
In view of many children not being disciplined from the cradle and the number of assaults on teachers does the team agree with Jim Knight that classes of 70 are acceptable?

DIMBLEBY:
With Teaching Assistants under certain circumstances. Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I mean you just have to say it to see how daft the idea is … (LAUGHTER) I mean it’s rather like in Government the whole trend to bigger is actually and profoundly the wrong direction we should be making not only our (APPLAUSE) class sizes smaller, if we possibly can but also of course the size of schools. The schools are themselves growing hugely. I mean I don’t know if this is a part of the world where you have had an issue of rural school closures as we have had. We have been fighting a campaign to prevent the closure of schools in Herefordshire for the last 3 or 4 months and it is absolutely monstrous how that is being done and I am afraid it is to penalize rural areas and areas that are outside the government’s voting corridor if you like rather heavily. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
Well I am afraid the case of misreporting and deliberate misrepresenting by the National Union of Teachers. What this actually comes from is a rather good example where an extremely good maths teacher can teach a lecture hall of 70, as you do at university, much better than perhaps mediocre or not sufficiently well trained teachers can teach smaller groups in a certain way. If you are a Head Teacher you might want the flexibility to say some classes, of the right people, the right 70 kids, I am going to have them all taught by the best teacher meanwhile some of those other teachers will be teaching people in very small groups who need to catch up for instance. I think the idea of that kind of flexibility that sometimes intensive help in small groups combined with some classes that can be very much bigger is the kind of flexibility that headmasters should be allowed. Head teachers I should say should be allowed. I just don’t think its right for newspapers to say oh look now the government wants classes of 70 and get everybody terribly excited. In fact class sizes have got smaller, they should be smaller still but what its about is the ratio in the school between the numbers of teachers and the numbers of pupils and it’s up to the head teacher to decide what is the best way to get the most out of their teaching staff for the children involved so don’t lets get carried away by great Daily Mail headlines saying now they want classes of 70.

DIMBLEBY:
The headline I have in mind comes from the Guardian…. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) for which you are an esteemed contributor and he is quoted there as backing large class sizes by the two educational correspondents who obviously attended. It could be according to this quote perfectly acceptable to teach classes up to 70 and he cited this maths class where he says it was perfectly acceptable “there was good learning going on in a large room with 3 or 4 teaching assistants”. Now given that it was that narrow context that he was identifying you is that what you are saying that that kind of thing is perfectly acceptable?

POLLY TOYNBEE
Yes I am afraid that we probably flame up headlines too just like everybody else. We are not perfect either I am afraid but I do think that anybody who is involved in the teaching profession does actually know what this is about. It’s not about saying we can do away with teachers and have everybody taught in classes of 70. That is not the answer.

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I think what Polly said is very reasonable that if there is a situation where you can lecture to 70 children at a time and it is effective for them then that should be the Head Masters decision. I must admit when I heard this headline I did get the wrong end of the stick too so perhaps it is the Guardian’s fault but there we go (LAUGHTER)
I have this sort of strange vision that I think the average size of class now is something like 25 to 30 but I stand to be corrected on that and you have this huge vision of sort of knocking down walls so you could actually have 70 children sitting in a class and all sitting down and doing exactly what they are told. It’s nothing to do with that at all but I think it is the NUT as well that has a particular agenda. Surprise, surprise do they not always have a particular agenda? And I must say….

DIMBLEBY:
This is just to be factually correct in relation to this particular enterprise the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Annual Conference.

RUTH LEA
Oh right well I know the NUT is having its conference this weekend as well but they have got this agenda for ever decreasing the size of the class as if inevitably you will get a better educational standard if you do that well I think time and time again that is broadly disproved by a lot of the research that takes place. It depends on the sort of class you are dealing with, it depends on the sort of children you are dealing with, it depends on the sort of teaching you are dealing with and of course it depends on the subject and the age so I think just to forever argue for smaller and smaller class sizes it is not necessarily the way forward and I do think flexibility has to be the way forward. Let the Headmaster decide what is best for their schools. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Minister?

BEN BRADSHAW
Well I don’t really have anything to add to what Ruth and Polly have just said. I agree with all of it. I think it is very important to recognise that it is not about going back to having regular large classes which we have managed to get rid of as Ruth has acknowledged down to 25 on average which is a good thing but if there is an inspirational teacher or an inspirational head….. I happen to remember one of my most inspirational moments at school being with a great many people it was called school assembly and the Head would stand up and do something really fantastic and to prevent Head Teachers or teachers from doing that and having that kind of flexibility I think would be wrong.


DIMBLEBY
What do you make of the audience there who responded with jeers again according to the reports when he said Teaching Assistants and high level Teaching Assistants working alongside teachers are very important to make the class sizes of 38 are manageable which seemed to imply perhaps to that audience that 38 was you know a perfectly normal size to expect and they jeered. What do you make of them jeering. These are teachers teaching everyone’s children.

BEN BRADSHAW
Well we are told this was a teaching union conference. It doesn’t surprise me to be honest. It is like Easter, it happens every time this time of year (LAUGHTER)

DIMBLEBY:
You’re the only one on their side Tory candidate Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I do think there is a further issue though which we should just look at which is why the Minister is taking a kind of Whitehall view of what takes place in schools at all. Why aren’t we just pushing power down to schools and letting …….

BEN BRADSHAW
The opposite. The Minister is saying let head teachers decide, give them the flexibility

JESSE NORMAN
No but of course that is being read as code for saying actually we would like to have larger classes.

BEN BRADSHAW
That isn’t what he is saying though…

DIMBLEBY
Let me ask, let me bring in on this Norman Hudson who put the question

NORMAN HUDSON
I couldn’t agree more that the headmasters should make these decisions but I am worried about the fact that it is all very well when people are sitting there and wanting to learn. I am talking about the disruptive pupils in a class of 70 for example who would find it very very difficult to compete.

RUTH LEA
I just don’t think you would have a class of 70 if you had a lot of difficult children and this is my point that it is horses for courses, it depends on what sort of children you are teaching to decide the size of the class

DIMBLEBY
Teachers, parents, governors, pupils any others 08700 100 444 for Any Answers if that is the issue you would like to address after the Saturday broadcast of Any Questions. The next question please…..


TERRY WRIGHT
Are we all sleepwalking into a full recession? Do we believe our politicians who tell us we have a strong economy or the indicators we hear daily of a beleaguered economy in meltdown?

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I don’t think we are sleepwalking into a full recession because I am still reasonably optimistic we won’t have a full recession and in fact when you talk about economic indicators there was one out this week which actually showed that retail sales was growing quite strongly and unemployment ironically was still falling so those aren’t economic indicators of an economy in recession. Of course what is happening is there are huge problems with the financial markets, there is no doubt about that. In the States and in here and I am glad to see that the Central Banks both in America and I think here in the United Kingdom now are getting on top of those particular financial problems. They are putting more money into the market. I am sure the Bank of England will cut interest rates again and so that in itself will help the economy but I just think I would like people to compare and contrast with the last time when we did have a full recession and that was way back in the early 90’s and then of course we had had this boom in the housing market in the late 80’s, then the interest rates were in double digit for about 3 or 4 years, we could do absolutely nothing about them, then we had a true housing market collapse in the sense that I don’t expect now and of course it led on to higher unemployment it was like a vicious circle and that is of course what happens with recession they go through from one difficulty to another and we are not going to have double digit interest rates this time if anything we are going to have lower interest rates therefore for all the problems I think the economy is facing I don’t see a full recession but I do see slow down, I do see slow down. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Do we believe our politicians Ben Bradshaw?

RUTH LEA
I do believe the politicians of course

(LAUGHTER)

BEN BRADSHAW
You don’t have to believe me and I am not going to soft soap people about what is going to happen. I mean Ruth, take it from Ruth, she’s an economist and she’s no friend of this government she has just outlined her prognosis of what is going to happen, I think, I hope it is right because it is quite an optimistic one

RUTH LEA
So do I….


BEN BRADSHAW
But all I can say is repeat what she has just said. This is not like the recession of the 1990’s when you had interest rates in double figures for four years, we have low inflation, we have the lowest level of unemployment for 32 years and the highest level of employment, we have interest rates coming down so the fundamentals are good but there is a lot of uncertainty out there in the world and that will mean I think a difficult period over the next 12 months.

DIMBLEBY:
Former banker Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I think it is slightly hard for the government to take credit for the interest rates falling as that has been controlled by the Bank of England as from 1997 but I think my view is that we are not sleepwalking into an economy in recession yet. Don’t forget the growth forecast at the moment, it’s been revised downwards now twice but it’s about 1.75 % and in order to have a recession you have to have two negative quarters so we are a long long way from that. The real issue is where the trends are going and what that means and of course it is possible to be rosy eyed about it but the truth of the matter is that the taxes are at historic highs, inflation is ticking up, growth is falling and we have had a succession of well publicized disasters of which Northern Rock is the most well known to contend with and so we are not necessarily in recession or tending to recession but we are on a kind of edge at the moment and it needs to be got right.

DIMBLEBY:
Is it going to get you know underlying the question, is it technically a recession because there has been two negative quarters is one thing, but are people going to in the future do you believe feel very much more constrained in what they can do?

JESSE NORMAN
I don’t think there can be any doubt about that at all. I think one of the things that is interesting about having 14 or 15 years of economic growth is that everyone thinks that 2% growth is a recession, I mean it’s a, you know if you look at what is happening with housing now lots of people now, lots of people are having mortgage offers withdrawn, Building Societies are withdrawing the opportunity to lend money for lending, libel which is the rate banks lend to each other is going up quite quickly showing that no one knows it is like the game of beggar my neighbour, no one knows where the bad money is so no one is lending to each other because they are worried they might get caught by it so it is quite fragile and um the great tragedy in a way is that the government hasn’t done more to give themselves head room if we get one. I mean it doesn’t, we have obviously got some space left on the monetary side. On the fiscal side, in America where they have just announced this enormous fiscal stimulus of tax cutting, we don’t have any scope to do that at all because borrowing is going through the sky at the moment. I mean the Chancellor said six months ago he was going to be borrowing another £120 billion and last week he said it was going to be another £160 billion so we really don’t have any head room at all on that front (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?


POLLY TOYNBEE
I think the sleepwalking that has been going on has been during the boom years in Wall St , in the City, in the global financial markets where we allowed the system to be run by people paid astronomical sums of money, paid more or less whatever they wanted and the more they were paid, they were paid in order to inflate the share prices of the banks and the business that they worked for, they got bigger bonuses, the more they got those share prices up in any way they could so they sold those sub prime mortgages to people who couldn’t afford it, they created all sorts of peculiar financial packages that nobody could understand and sold them on,infected the entire economic system very much through the pressure on the particular pay that they had and I think perhaps the Bank of England, the FSA and regulators and Greenspan I think was asleep during a lot of this and really what we have to do when we get through this (and we hope it ‘s not going to be too bad but nobody can be sure) I am very glad to hear Ruth’s reasonably confident predictions and I hope she is right but when we get through this we need to look again at the connection between what people are paid and what the incentives are, they need incentives to run really good business not incentives to artificially inflate their share prices, get huge bonuses disappear and be gone by the time the pigeons come home to roost. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
The Business Secretary John Hutton has said he is very relaxed about what I think Peter Mandelsson once called the filthy rich, he is intensively relaxed about it as well.

POLLY TOYNBEE
Yes I think John Hutton said we should celebrate vast salaries. Well he is really behind the kerb on this because I really think that people in this country feel very strongly that there was something wrong about them getting 37% or 38% increases in their ordinary pay packets plus these vast bonuses and huge tax avoidance scams at the same time while ordinary people pay their PAYE taxes and watch those people at the top getting away with unimaginable sums of our money basically out of our pension funds because it’s our shares in our pension funds. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Do you celebrate with John Hutton, Ben Bradshaw?

BEN BRADSHAW
I celebrate success and I celebrate people who work hard and create wealth.

DIMBLEBY:
Do you celebrate the great wealth that some people have accumulated?

BEN BRADSHAW
I think that some of the practices that Polly has referred to have been excessive and we need proper regulations, we have dealt with the issue now of non doms and I think that was the right thing to do, despite coming under quite a bit of pressure from some parts of the city not to do it, and I think it is important that there is a fairness in the system but in an international market where you have London as the centre of the international finance you are not going to attract the top people to do those sorts of jobs unless they are rewarded and they take huge risks as well I mean people are going to be losing their jobs in the banking sector

DIMBLEBY:
Both on my right want to come in here. First Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I just want to come back to this question about a full recession because to an economist this is a rather technical term but I don’t want to give the impression that I think life is going to be desperately easy over the next two or three years. I think growth is going to be slow I think inflation is going to be difficult, I think there are going to be problems in the housing market and when I can go back to the issue of inflation there is no doubt that fuel prices, food prices council taxes, taxes in general all of these things are rising now much much quicker than the average cost of living so that when people say oh inflation is 2.5% for an awful lot of people in this country it is not 2.5% it is more like (APPLAUSE) I think it is more like frankly 6% or 7% and if you are talking about average earnings going up by 3.5 or 4 % people are going to be faced with a falling standard of living so I do believe that is happening in fact I think that is happening now and it is going to continue to happen so I just wanted to give the impression that I wasn’t absolutely gung ho about the economy because I am not.

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman

JESSE NORMAN
You have successfully created that impression if I may say so Ruth …. no actually I think you are right, the actual standard of living is falling at the moment and that is a serious cause for concern. No, the point I was going to make is something slightly different One of the things that sticks in many people’s claws about these enormous salaries is that actually there is an asymmetry of risk and reward when the times are good, people make out like absolute bandits but when times are bad actually it is the shareholders who suffer, they are OK they go on to the next job there isn’t the sense that people in the city are bearing the same risks as they are bearing the benefits of

DIMBLEBY:
So what would you do about that?

JESSE NORMAN
Well I don’t think anyone has come up with a proper or sensible suggestion to that and it is not really clear that the government has got a workable proposal on that. I am just trying to get a handle on what it is that makes people so angry and certainly when I talk to Hereford where I come from the average wage, the average household earnings is £23 to £24,000 that is a day, a week’s earnings for some of these people and that is unnerving. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Our next please?


GEOFF WILKINS
Does the panel think that cyclists who flout the rules of the road should be prosecuted for the same figure as motorists?

DIMBLEBY
I will come back to you on this Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I have been a very keen cyclist since the age of dot, my first job was a paper round on a bike, a meat round and I absolutely don’t agree. No I think cyclists should be given a completely different deal rather like pedestrians and I think there should be a left turn on red lights for cyclists as indeed for motorists, I think there should be all kinds of ways allowed to get people on bikes taking exercise, see the world engage in breathing…..

DIMBLEBY:
Should they be allowed to break the law as it stands with impunity?

JESSE NORMAN
No… (LAUGHTER)

DIMBLEBY:
So if the Daily Mirror’s report is correct. It alleges that the leader of the conservative party has been breaking almost every kind of law on his bicycle in one way or another. If those allegations prove to be sustainable would you like to see the leader of your party prosecuted?

JESSE NORMAN
Certainly not. I think the law should be changed. I think he has done a wonderful job of flying the flag for changing the law on cyclists as I might add has Boris Johnson

DIMBLEBY:
What view of this do you take Minister?

BEN BRADSHAW
As you probably know I am also a cyclist but I am not one who has a limousine driving behind me with my briefcase and suit in it.

DIMBLEBY:
Have you ever broken the law?

BEN BRADSHAW
Sorry?

DIMBLEBY:
Have you ever broken the law?

BEN BRADSHAW
Yes I have ridden without lights when I shouldn’t have (CHEERS) But I think on balance since I have been in public life I have not taken the risk of going through a red light and being recognized but partly because I think

DIMBLEBY:
You mean you wear a mask when you are going through a red light?

BEN BRADSHAW
No I wouldn’t wear a mask but I would have worn a helmet. No but seriously I think the law is there to protect cyclists as well and their safety and I get a lot of letters in the constituency from pedestrians particularly elderly people who are really scared by people cycling on pavements and it’s a big issue and I think it is important that the police crack down on anti social and illegal behaviour which is dangerous to other people it is also dangerous to cyclists themselves but one thing I do agree with Jesse on we need to make the roads safer for cyclists, more cycle lanes so that more people can do it safely without having to take the risks of going through red lights or cycling on the pavement which some people do.(APPLAUSE)

POLLY TOYNBEE
Well I am very lucky because I have been given a beautiful new bike by my children for my birthday recently. I am a very nervous new cyclist. I am quite wobbly. I certainly don’t shoot any lights. I wear my yellow jacket, I have lots of lights on my bike and I find cycling in London absolutely terrifying, absolutely terrifying but its also exhilarating and one of the best ways of getting round. Of course we need separate cycle lanes as you get all through Germany, all through Holland and through lots of Europe we are miles behind on this. We shouldn’t be cycling on pavements but you really can take slices of pavement and make them into dedicated small cycling lanes and I would certainly want prosecuted those mad cyclists who wear aggressive lycra and shout and yell and go at incredible speed, They are absolutely terrifying, just as frightening as lorries when they pass cyclists like me who are a bit wobbly. We do need our own cycle lanes (APPLAUSE)

RUTH LEA
Well I am not a cyclist and I have had altercations with cyclists on more than one occasion mainly because they are riding on the footpaths so I am perhaps not as sympathetic to cyclists as some other people in this room but I do agree that there should be separate cycle lanes of course there should and that would solve the problem but if cyclists do break the law then I am sorry I think they should have their collars felt.

DIMBLEBY:
Whoever they may be

RUTH LEA
Whoever they may be. Well fortunately I am not the prospective candidate for Hereford…..excuse me sir what are you doing here and you are going the wrong way down a one way street and it is dangerous I am sorry to seem such a bore but it is dangerous but of course to some degree to treat a cyclist as a motorist is a different order of things, it is one thing to be run over by a cyclist, it is a very different thing to be run over by a motorist. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
I am sure Jesse Norman would have like the chance to have pointed out that I think David Cameron did apologise for any error that he might have made … profusely says someone from the floor. Geoff Wilkins you put the question what do you think?

GEOFF WILKINS
Well I do feel that if there was an accident the motorist would get the blame anyway.

DIMBLEBY:
You may have thoughts about that 08700 100 444 is the telephone number. The email address is any.answers@bbc.co.uk. Out next question please.


DAVID WATSON
Should this country feel guilty about the death of Ama Sumani who was returned to Ghana with a disease said not to be treatable there.

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
I think we all feel awful about it. I think it is devastating and dreadful but absolutely inevitable. When you think about it how can we possibly accept into a National Health Service all of the sick of the world and we can’t do that. This was somebody who had overstayed their student visa and just because she got some treatment here, was lucky enough to get some treatment here I am afraid it didn’t justify her staying on the other hand almost everything to do with migration is like that, particular decisions you have to make are excruciatingly painful and they are very difficult to make but I don’t think you could open the door to everyone who has cancer in the developing world or everyone in Africa who has AIDS. It is all the more reason why we should go on increasing our aid budget which we are but you have to do your best to treat people in their own countries and to get their own health services up to scratch. I am very glad our government is committed to producing for the first time, to agree the amount of money for aid that the UN says that every developed country should provide and I think that is the right way to go, otherwise the NHS will collapse and certainly public support for it will. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I think Jesse expressed earlier in the evening he was surprised he had agreed with pretty much everything that Polly had said could I just say that I have agreed with just about everything that Polly has said here tonight and we are all too aware of the huge pressures on the health service as it is. I think only this week we have been reading stories about maternity wards closing down. Now goodness me what is happening to the health service when it has had such a huge increase in public funding over last 10 years. I think public funding has gone up more than twice as much, it has more than doubled and yet we have these huge pressures on resources and given the fact that people are living longer, thank goodness, because I have just turned 60 myself and I want to live a long time thank you very much and there are more and more conditions you can actually treat. You know, you know that these pressures on the health service are going to continue but having said all that I totally agree with what Polly has just said.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Minister of State for the Dept of Health, she was in hospital at the time in Wales as you know. 5 immigration officials came and against her will they took her away in a wheelchair and then put her on a plane and the Lancet said it was an atrocious barbarism to do this. What is your response to that particular observation?


BEN BRADSHAW
I think this is a terribly, terribly difficult case but at the same time I think it is important as Polly said that we don’t make the rules based on individual cases like this however distressing they are, however painful they are to witness. What happened to this lady, because as Ruth has said, we have a health service that is based on the taxes that you pay here and if we were to simply say to people that they can come from anywhere in the world with whatever conditions and get that treatment free here I think the real danger is that people here who are still having to wait for their treatment would not feel very happy about that and however much sympathy we all have for this woman and for her family I don’t think it would be right to use the emotional pull of this case to create that sort of open door policy.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
Well one certainly wishes that the gigantic amount of money that has been spent on the NHS over the last 10 years had been better spent. I think that is a very important issue which we should keep coming back to. But on this there are issues of principle actually involved here which we must focus on. One is what is the nature of a relationship of care between a doctor and patient who is already on a course of treatment from which they are then taken and I think there must be some scope for a more humane arrangement without breaching Polly’s very well taken point about the importance of not taking as it were being the ultimate carer for the entire world. There must be some point at which we allow the specific relationship between a doctor and a patient to be honoured during a course of treatment and it seems to me to be extremely inhumane to be taking someone out of that and then deporting them so maybe there is an issue of principle as well to be discussed. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Let’s just pick that up. Ben Bradshaw do you in principle have sympathy given the general position you have taken do you in principle have sympathy with that point which was being made by Jesse?

BEN BRADSHAW
I have sympathy that this must have been very difficult for the clinicians involved and I suspect this is why the Lancet took the approach that it did but its different from whether as a clinician you feel that something is right as to whether as the holder of the public purse, which is what the government’s role is, as to whether something is right and whether by making an exception in this one particular case you could end up with consequences that would be far reaching for the burden on the health service which I don’t think people would welcome.

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?


JESSE NORMAN
It might simply be don’t send the heavies in when someone is during the course of treatment for cancer I don’t think that is a particularly difficult rule to implement. It is because there was a disconnection between the two different parts of government that this rather difficult situation arose it seems to me.

DIMBLEBY:
I’ll ask our audience here on this extremely difficult issue do you think the right decision was made in this case. Those who think it was the right decision would you put your hands up? Those who think she should have been allowed to finish her course of treatment in the way that was outlined by Jesse Norman would you put your hands up? Well there is a small majority if I am right, a small majority in favour of allowing her to have completed her treatment. Again I will give you that Any Answers number for Easter Saturday 08700 100 444. And we will go to our next please?


PETER CARD
With China’s record on human rights abuse and their current activities in Tibet should the UK Olympic team still be going to Beijing?

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea

RUTH LEA
I think it should actually and not least of all because we have got the Olympics in 2012 and it would look absolutely appalling if we weren’t there but I think it is important to go and to embarrass the Chinese than to actually not to go at all. I think the Chinese have behaved absolutely appallingly may I say but I don’t think it helps if you are not going to actually connect with them.

DIMBLEBY:
How do you embarrass the Chinese by going?

RUTH LEA
Well I think your very presence there you can see what is going on, whereas if you don’t go what are you saying you are just walking away from the whole situation. That’s how I see it. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee

POLLY TOYNBEE
We have got a very small window of opportunity when we do for once have some leverage which we will never have again on the Chinese government. After the Olympics I think they will be absolutely transcendent. I think we should this maximum period of leverage for all the countries who feel strongly about Tibet to urge China really strongly to give far more autonomy to the Tibetan people in the way that Dalai Lama suggests which is not total independence but autonomy of governance. The Dalai Lama is a very reasonable man who doesn’t believe in violence, he is appalled at the idea that any of his own Tibetan followers might have been attacking Chinese people just because they were Chinese in Tibet. He is a peaceable man and a reasonable man and I think that we should all threaten, make it a possibility that we should not go to the Olympics unless they sit down and have reasoned discussions with the Dalai Lama with the view to bringing him back home with a measure of autonomy.

DIMBLEBY:
So you would put a condition on going?

POLLY TOYNBEE
I think that would be the implied condition. I think that between now and then we really should use this because after that it will be a free for all, they can move in the entire army. I think the very fact they are not letting the journalists in, we should insist that there should be foreign observers and journalists in there now at the one time that China is letting journalists in much more but not into Tibet.

DIMBLEBY:
Ben Bradshaw?

BEN BRADSHAW
I wouldn’t support a boycott and it is very interesting that the Dalai Lama himself has said he doesn’t want a boycott. He is very supportive of the Olympics and I think that
Polly and Ruth are right the Olympics actually gives the international community the opportunity to increase the pressure on China and what better way really in this Olympic year for China to improve its reputation in the world than to sit down with the Dalai Lama and sort out the Tibetan situation once and for all.

DIMBLEBY:
What is the pressure that you put on if you say we are coming regardless, for whatever good reason you may be going, what kind of pressure are you putting on? I mean Polly Toynbee suggested a degree of pressure i.e. you talk to the Dalai Lama or we might not come

BEN BRADSHAW
I think there are different ways of pressuring and I am not an expert on China or the Chinese

DIMBLEBY:
You’ve been a Foreign Minister

BEN BRADSHAW
Oh yes but not I have never been to China but I am told by those people who know China very well that they respond better to some types of pressure than they do to others and not being an expert myself I wouldn’t want to second guess the sort of pressure that works best but those people who know China very well suggest that we are more likely to see progress in China following up its amazing economic progress with real political reform and liberalization including the settling of the issue of Tibet if we continue to talk and engage and yes raise human rights and yes meet the Dalai Lama when he comes but not to take our bat away from the stump altogether that is likely to not lead to the right response.

DIMBLEBY:
You wanted a quick…

POLLY TOYNBEE
Wouldn’t it be disgraceful if this government pussy footed over this simply because we are worried about protecting our own Olympics. I really think this is our one opportunity to make a real difference to the Tibetan people and we should use it and not simply say well that’s not how we are responding

BEN BRADSHAW
I agree with you it’s a question of how we do it

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?


JESSE NORMAN
I do think the |Prime Minister has been unbelievably feeble so far on this I mean he started off kind of ignoring the Dalai Lama, dithering and then deciding that he would see him thus massively communicating that he wasn’t interested in the issue or he was prepared to be persuaded by the press. So it has been a scandal so far. There is no evidence of any really consistent opposition policy to China on the Tibet issue

DIMBLEBY:
What should it be?

JESSE NORMAN
Well hold on a second. Let’s just start off on what happened which was in 1950 China invaded Tibet, it was a colonial annexation by China and that should never be forgotten. The Olympics are a celebration of openness and international freedom and the exchange of ideas and sporting achievement and those are the ideas we should be bringing back into the discussion with China so absolutely let us leave open the status of whether we are going to go or not, let’s get as many people as we possibly can out there and start blowing the whistle on what is actually happening. I do think that Malcolm Rifkin had a rather good idea on this today when he suggested that the Chinese had actually been prepared to contemplate a two track arrangement with Hong Kong in which it was a bastion of capitalism within a communist system and something similar should be worked out for Tibet and that should be the object of our diplomatic endeavors.

DIMBLEBY:
But none of what you just said however helpful or useful it might be suggests that you are intending or would put more pressure on the Chinese authority than the Government is already doing.

JESSE NORMAN
Well I don’t think that is true at all first of all I think, well the first thing

DIMBLEBY
What would David Cameron do?

JESSE NORMAN
Well the first thing he said instantly is that he would see the Dalai Lama and that is first step of it. I think that you know again I am not a diplomat we should look at the channels involved but pressure to open up Tibet, pressure to allow the journalists to go in, perhaps the issue of the Olympic torch which is supposed to be let go through London on its run you know how would that be handled? There are a series of ways in which we ought to be able to put pressure on the Chinese who are extremely oriented around saving face in order to make them understand the nature of international concern on this issue.

DIMBLEBY:
Thank you very much and I am afraid that brings us to the end of this weeks programme. Next week we are going to be in London at the Lambeth Academy. On our panel will be amongst others, Brian Paddick who is staying as Mayor of London for the Liberal Democrats, Sir Keith Bowers the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Kathy Sykes from Bristol University and AN Other watch this space. Meanwhile don’t forget Any Answers 08700 100 444 from Barrington Village Hall, Barrington in Somerset, Goodbye.








BEN BRADSHAW MP: Minister of State for Health

POLLY TOYNBEE: Guardian Columnist

RUTH LEA: Economist

JESSE NORMAN: Conservative Parliamentary Candidate and Writer

From: Barrington Village Hall, Barrington, Somerset



DIMBLEBY:
Welcome to Somerset and the delightful village of Barrington where we are in the Village Hall as the guests of the Trustees. The Hall provides a host of activities for the 450 residents who live in the community which is set close by the Black Down Hills on the Somerset levels. On our Panel, Ben Bradshaw was a BBC reporter before he went into politics he is now Minister of State for the Dept of Health where he doubles as Minister for the South West. Not so long ago Jesse Norman was a Director for Barclays Bank now as a leading component of compassionate conservatism who also holds an honorary fellowship in philosophy at UCL, the University College of London, he belongs politically to the Cameron clan and is a Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative Party. David Cameron once blew political kisses at Polly Toynbee, the Guardian Columnist who firmly rebuffed his advances preferring more or less to nail her colours to Gordon Brown’s mast but she is by no means a Labour patsy. Indeed the Prime Minister must sometimes ask with friends like Polly who needs enemies? Ruth Lea worked in the Treasury before moving on to become variously ITN’s news editor, Head of Policy at the Institute of Directors, Director of the Centre of Policy Studies and she is now Economics Advisor to the banking group Arbuthnott and she is also the fourth member of our panel.
(APPLAUSE)

Our first question please?

TERRY IRWIN
Under which circumstances would MP’s be justified in following their consciences and the guidance of their religious leaders rather than their Party Whip?

DIMBLEBY:
This I presume Mr Irwin is in the context of the Cardinal saying that it would be monstrous to go through with the embryology bill that would permit hybrid humanand animal embryos?

TERRY IRWIN
That is correct.

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
I think MP’s should follow their conscience when they feel really passionately about something but you can’t expect to hold a government or a ministerial job and vote against the government that you are a part of. You have to go back to the back benches. That’s what you take for following your conscience. Governments have to be coalitions of people with a number of different opinions on different things who agree to stand together in reasonable solidarity otherwise you would never get any sensible coherent policies through at all but I think if you felt passionately and I wish many of them had felt more passionately about Iraq and done what John Denholm did then you vote against and you go to the back benches and take the consequences. On this occasion on the question of this embryology bill I think this is the most vitally important for anybody who suffers from Alzheimers, who suffers from Parkinsons who fears they or their family might. This research is vitally important, this is not a hybrid, this is not a mixture human DNA and animal DNA it is simply an animal casing of an egg and all of the DNA inside is human. And this is superstitious nonsense from the Cardinal and we should have nothing to do with it. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
Well I find myself in slightly an uncomfortable position of agreeing with Polly, surprising in some respects. I mean I think the thing is the first principle of government is that the government of the day should be able to get its business through the House of Commons as it were, they have been elected to do and so there is a rationale to a Party whip in Parliament along traditional lines but this is not one of those cases because this is a Bill on what is for a very large number of people an issue of conscience. It raises a whole host of moral issues in their minds around the treatment of embryos which are not a million miles away in some respects, in their minds at least from, the treatment of embryos in the abortion debate which is always treated as a moral matter and a matter of conscience and those issues are subject to a free vote and I think there is something absolutely monstrous if I may say so about the Government insisting on a whipped vote when actually this is an issue of conscience in which people should be able to follow their own views and I think there is a clear analogy with some of these other moral cases. They have already whipped the vote in the House of Lords and I just hope as I think my own party and the Lib Dems call for this should be a free vote in the House of Commons. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Ben Bradshaw?


BEN BRADSHAW
I think there is a justification for a free vote. This is not about those things. He was wrong I think in fact and I thought rather intemperate and rather emotive in the way that he criticized this legislation. As Polly said this is about using pre embryonic cells to do research that has the potential to ease the suffering of millions of people in this country. The government has taken the view that this is a good thing. We have free votes on issues of conscience like abortion, like the death penalty or where the government does not take a view. The government has taken a view so I think in this case the government is absolutely right to try to push this through to the potential benefit of many many people in this country.

DIMBLEBY:
If you are a catholic and one or two labour backbenchers have made it clear that they may rebel is it not an issue of conscience however from your perspective important the medical research breakthroughs might be.

BEN BRADSHAW
And I think the Chief Whip has said that he would be prepared to sanction people abstaining if that was how strongly they felt but I have to tell you Jonathan the other thing that slightly perturbs me about this. The Cardinal gives the impression that all Roman Catholics I think Opus Dei actually said that you can’t be a practicing Roman Catholic and support this legislation. That is offensive to many decent Roman Catholics who do support this kind of lifesaving research that has the potential to ease the suffering of thousands of people who are alive today. What about their welfare? What about their suffering? Rather than always concentrating on tiny, tiny pre embryonic cells that are not viable and are going to be destroyed anyway?

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I think the problem is when you are forced and you basically agree with the other members of the Panel it is very difficult to add anything but I would say this…..

DIMBLEBY:
There is a difference of view on the free vote of this issue regardless of what you… which is the core of the question which is when are you justified, when are MP’s justified in following the government and religious leaders rather than their conscience…..

RUTH LEA
Yes
I agree with you it’s just that quite a lot of the debate had actually gone on to the actual value of the Bill itself but I don’t think there is any question that MP’s should always follow their consciences else what are they there for? But I also do take the point from Ben that the government is there to push its particular business through and I think Jesse said that as well but he also mentioned the fact that if there are real objections to this Bill then MP’s can actually abstain and that strikes me as a very good way of solving this particular problem. So by all means yes vote on your conscience but if there are members of the government who really feel that they cannot support this Bill for whatever reason then they must abstain, they must be allowed to abstain.

DIMBLEBY:
You said Jesse Norman that it would be monstrous not to have a free vote. Why isn’t it enough to be permitted to abstain?

JESSE NORMAN
I think it goes back to the constitutional question or the traditional parliamentary arrangement over issues of conscience, issues of morality and once you have opened the door to an abstention then you have potentially opened the door to a large number of other votes that have traditionally been considered moral issues suddenly becoming under the government whip. Now it is very important on this issue not to confuse, two issues, questions, One is, is the Bill a good idea and the second is what will the whipping arrangements be for MP’s. You can perfectly reasonably believe this Bill is a good idea and also hold that it should be a free vote and that I think is the right position to be on and what is quite wrong is to use the natural feeling of sympathy which of course I share as deeply as any person in this room. My own mother died of Alzheimer’s disease before Christmas and she might have been one of those people who could have been saved by this technology but that is a different matter from how we should treat the issue of the voting procedure. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Free votes Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
Who gets to decide what is a moral issue. My moral issues may be very different to a Cardinal’s moral issues. I regard the issue of going to war as a profoundly moral issue with infinitely more effect on people’s lives and deaths than the matter of a few little cells that through some peculiar dogma that comes through the Vatican suddenly becomes a few people’s moral issue

DIMBLEBY:
Come back in on that…..

JESSE NORMAN
There is an established, or relatively established set of issues that count as moral issues and issues of war and peace have not traditionally been in those, in that group. There is a perfectly fair further question as to whether they should be included in those I absolutely share your view Polly again somewhat surprisingly that I wish more people had actually exercised their own conscience on the Iraq war and which we have seen already this week, revisiting it, was scandalously under justified by the government and poorly executed on the ground in some respects by them afterwards.

DIMBLEBY:
Thank you if you have thoughts about Any Answers may be for you after the Saturday broadcast of this programme. The number to ring is 08700 100 444 and the email address any.answers @ bbc.co.uk. Our next question please.


NORMAN HUDSON
In view of many children not being disciplined from the cradle and the number of assaults on teachers does the team agree with Jim Knight that classes of 70 are acceptable?

DIMBLEBY:
With Teaching Assistants under certain circumstances. Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I mean you just have to say it to see how daft the idea is … (LAUGHTER) I mean it’s rather like in Government the whole trend to bigger is actually and profoundly the wrong direction we should be making not only our (APPLAUSE) class sizes smaller, if we possibly can but also of course the size of schools. The schools are themselves growing hugely. I mean I don’t know if this is a part of the world where you have had an issue of rural school closures as we have had. We have been fighting a campaign to prevent the closure of schools in Herefordshire for the last 3 or 4 months and it is absolutely monstrous how that is being done and I am afraid it is to penalize rural areas and areas that are outside the government’s voting corridor if you like rather heavily. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
Well I am afraid the case of misreporting and deliberate misrepresenting by the National Union of Teachers. What this actually comes from is a rather good example where an extremely good maths teacher can teach a lecture hall of 70, as you do at university, much better than perhaps mediocre or not sufficiently well trained teachers can teach smaller groups in a certain way. If you are a Head Teacher you might want the flexibility to say some classes, of the right people, the right 70 kids, I am going to have them all taught by the best teacher meanwhile some of those other teachers will be teaching people in very small groups who need to catch up for instance. I think the idea of that kind of flexibility that sometimes intensive help in small groups combined with some classes that can be very much bigger is the kind of flexibility that headmasters should be allowed. Head teachers I should say should be allowed. I just don’t think its right for newspapers to say oh look now the government wants classes of 70 and get everybody terribly excited. In fact class sizes have got smaller, they should be smaller still but what its about is the ratio in the school between the numbers of teachers and the numbers of pupils and it’s up to the head teacher to decide what is the best way to get the most out of their teaching staff for the children involved so don’t lets get carried away by great Daily Mail headlines saying now they want classes of 70.

DIMBLEBY:
The headline I have in mind comes from the Guardian…. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) for which you are an esteemed contributor and he is quoted there as backing large class sizes by the two educational correspondents who obviously attended. It could be according to this quote perfectly acceptable to teach classes up to 70 and he cited this maths class where he says it was perfectly acceptable “there was good learning going on in a large room with 3 or 4 teaching assistants”. Now given that it was that narrow context that he was identifying you is that what you are saying that that kind of thing is perfectly acceptable?

POLLY TOYNBEE
Yes I am afraid that we probably flame up headlines too just like everybody else. We are not perfect either I am afraid but I do think that anybody who is involved in the teaching profession does actually know what this is about. It’s not about saying we can do away with teachers and have everybody taught in classes of 70. That is not the answer.

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I think what Polly said is very reasonable that if there is a situation where you can lecture to 70 children at a time and it is effective for them then that should be the Head Masters decision. I must admit when I heard this headline I did get the wrong end of the stick too so perhaps it is the Guardian’s fault but there we go (LAUGHTER)
I have this sort of strange vision that I think the average size of class now is something like 25 to 30 but I stand to be corrected on that and you have this huge vision of sort of knocking down walls so you could actually have 70 children sitting in a class and all sitting down and doing exactly what they are told. It’s nothing to do with that at all but I think it is the NUT as well that has a particular agenda. Surprise, surprise do they not always have a particular agenda? And I must say….

DIMBLEBY:
This is just to be factually correct in relation to this particular enterprise the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Annual Conference.

RUTH LEA
Oh right well I know the NUT is having its conference this weekend as well but they have got this agenda for ever decreasing the size of the class as if inevitably you will get a better educational standard if you do that well I think time and time again that is broadly disproved by a lot of the research that takes place. It depends on the sort of class you are dealing with, it depends on the sort of children you are dealing with, it depends on the sort of teaching you are dealing with and of course it depends on the subject and the age so I think just to forever argue for smaller and smaller class sizes it is not necessarily the way forward and I do think flexibility has to be the way forward. Let the Headmaster decide what is best for their schools. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Minister?

BEN BRADSHAW
Well I don’t really have anything to add to what Ruth and Polly have just said. I agree with all of it. I think it is very important to recognise that it is not about going back to having regular large classes which we have managed to get rid of as Ruth has acknowledged down to 25 on average which is a good thing but if there is an inspirational teacher or an inspirational head….. I happen to remember one of my most inspirational moments at school being with a great many people it was called school assembly and the Head would stand up and do something really fantastic and to prevent Head Teachers or teachers from doing that and having that kind of flexibility I think would be wrong.


DIMBLEBY
What do you make of the audience there who responded with jeers again according to the reports when he said Teaching Assistants and high level Teaching Assistants working alongside teachers are very important to make the class sizes of 38 are manageable which seemed to imply perhaps to that audience that 38 was you know a perfectly normal size to expect and they jeered. What do you make of them jeering. These are teachers teaching everyone’s children.

BEN BRADSHAW
Well we are told this was a teaching union conference. It doesn’t surprise me to be honest. It is like Easter, it happens every time this time of year (LAUGHTER)

DIMBLEBY:
You’re the only one on their side Tory candidate Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I do think there is a further issue though which we should just look at which is why the Minister is taking a kind of Whitehall view of what takes place in schools at all. Why aren’t we just pushing power down to schools and letting …….

BEN BRADSHAW
The opposite. The Minister is saying let head teachers decide, give them the flexibility

JESSE NORMAN
No but of course that is being read as code for saying actually we would like to have larger classes.

BEN BRADSHAW
That isn’t what he is saying though…

DIMBLEBY
Let me ask, let me bring in on this Norman Hudson who put the question

NORMAN HUDSON
I couldn’t agree more that the headmasters should make these decisions but I am worried about the fact that it is all very well when people are sitting there and wanting to learn. I am talking about the disruptive pupils in a class of 70 for example who would find it very very difficult to compete.

RUTH LEA
I just don’t think you would have a class of 70 if you had a lot of difficult children and this is my point that it is horses for courses, it depends on what sort of children you are teaching to decide the size of the class

DIMBLEBY
Teachers, parents, governors, pupils any others 08700 100 444 for Any Answers if that is the issue you would like to address after the Saturday broadcast of Any Questions. The next question please…..


TERRY WRIGHT
Are we all sleepwalking into a full recession? Do we believe our politicians who tell us we have a strong economy or the indicators we hear daily of a beleaguered economy in meltdown?

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I don’t think we are sleepwalking into a full recession because I am still reasonably optimistic we won’t have a full recession and in fact when you talk about economic indicators there was one out this week which actually showed that retail sales was growing quite strongly and unemployment ironically was still falling so those aren’t economic indicators of an economy in recession. Of course what is happening is there are huge problems with the financial markets, there is no doubt about that. In the States and in here and I am glad to see that the Central Banks both in America and I think here in the United Kingdom now are getting on top of those particular financial problems. They are putting more money into the market. I am sure the Bank of England will cut interest rates again and so that in itself will help the economy but I just think I would like people to compare and contrast with the last time when we did have a full recession and that was way back in the early 90’s and then of course we had had this boom in the housing market in the late 80’s, then the interest rates were in double digit for about 3 or 4 years, we could do absolutely nothing about them, then we had a true housing market collapse in the sense that I don’t expect now and of course it led on to higher unemployment it was like a vicious circle and that is of course what happens with recession they go through from one difficulty to another and we are not going to have double digit interest rates this time if anything we are going to have lower interest rates therefore for all the problems I think the economy is facing I don’t see a full recession but I do see slow down, I do see slow down. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Do we believe our politicians Ben Bradshaw?

RUTH LEA
I do believe the politicians of course

(LAUGHTER)

BEN BRADSHAW
You don’t have to believe me and I am not going to soft soap people about what is going to happen. I mean Ruth, take it from Ruth, she’s an economist and she’s no friend of this government she has just outlined her prognosis of what is going to happen, I think, I hope it is right because it is quite an optimistic one

RUTH LEA
So do I….


BEN BRADSHAW
But all I can say is repeat what she has just said. This is not like the recession of the 1990’s when you had interest rates in double figures for four years, we have low inflation, we have the lowest level of unemployment for 32 years and the highest level of employment, we have interest rates coming down so the fundamentals are good but there is a lot of uncertainty out there in the world and that will mean I think a difficult period over the next 12 months.

DIMBLEBY:
Former banker Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I think it is slightly hard for the government to take credit for the interest rates falling as that has been controlled by the Bank of England as from 1997 but I think my view is that we are not sleepwalking into an economy in recession yet. Don’t forget the growth forecast at the moment, it’s been revised downwards now twice but it’s about 1.75 % and in order to have a recession you have to have two negative quarters so we are a long long way from that. The real issue is where the trends are going and what that means and of course it is possible to be rosy eyed about it but the truth of the matter is that the taxes are at historic highs, inflation is ticking up, growth is falling and we have had a succession of well publicized disasters of which Northern Rock is the most well known to contend with and so we are not necessarily in recession or tending to recession but we are on a kind of edge at the moment and it needs to be got right.

DIMBLEBY:
Is it going to get you know underlying the question, is it technically a recession because there has been two negative quarters is one thing, but are people going to in the future do you believe feel very much more constrained in what they can do?

JESSE NORMAN
I don’t think there can be any doubt about that at all. I think one of the things that is interesting about having 14 or 15 years of economic growth is that everyone thinks that 2% growth is a recession, I mean it’s a, you know if you look at what is happening with housing now lots of people now, lots of people are having mortgage offers withdrawn, Building Societies are withdrawing the opportunity to lend money for lending, libel which is the rate banks lend to each other is going up quite quickly showing that no one knows it is like the game of beggar my neighbour, no one knows where the bad money is so no one is lending to each other because they are worried they might get caught by it so it is quite fragile and um the great tragedy in a way is that the government hasn’t done more to give themselves head room if we get one. I mean it doesn’t, we have obviously got some space left on the monetary side. On the fiscal side, in America where they have just announced this enormous fiscal stimulus of tax cutting, we don’t have any scope to do that at all because borrowing is going through the sky at the moment. I mean the Chancellor said six months ago he was going to be borrowing another £120 billion and last week he said it was going to be another £160 billion so we really don’t have any head room at all on that front (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?


POLLY TOYNBEE
I think the sleepwalking that has been going on has been during the boom years in Wall St , in the City, in the global financial markets where we allowed the system to be run by people paid astronomical sums of money, paid more or less whatever they wanted and the more they were paid, they were paid in order to inflate the share prices of the banks and the business that they worked for, they got bigger bonuses, the more they got those share prices up in any way they could so they sold those sub prime mortgages to people who couldn’t afford it, they created all sorts of peculiar financial packages that nobody could understand and sold them on,infected the entire economic system very much through the pressure on the particular pay that they had and I think perhaps the Bank of England, the FSA and regulators and Greenspan I think was asleep during a lot of this and really what we have to do when we get through this (and we hope it ‘s not going to be too bad but nobody can be sure) I am very glad to hear Ruth’s reasonably confident predictions and I hope she is right but when we get through this we need to look again at the connection between what people are paid and what the incentives are, they need incentives to run really good business not incentives to artificially inflate their share prices, get huge bonuses disappear and be gone by the time the pigeons come home to roost. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
The Business Secretary John Hutton has said he is very relaxed about what I think Peter Mandelsson once called the filthy rich, he is intensively relaxed about it as well.

POLLY TOYNBEE
Yes I think John Hutton said we should celebrate vast salaries. Well he is really behind the kerb on this because I really think that people in this country feel very strongly that there was something wrong about them getting 37% or 38% increases in their ordinary pay packets plus these vast bonuses and huge tax avoidance scams at the same time while ordinary people pay their PAYE taxes and watch those people at the top getting away with unimaginable sums of our money basically out of our pension funds because it’s our shares in our pension funds. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Do you celebrate with John Hutton, Ben Bradshaw?

BEN BRADSHAW
I celebrate success and I celebrate people who work hard and create wealth.

DIMBLEBY:
Do you celebrate the great wealth that some people have accumulated?

BEN BRADSHAW
I think that some of the practices that Polly has referred to have been excessive and we need proper regulations, we have dealt with the issue now of non doms and I think that was the right thing to do, despite coming under quite a bit of pressure from some parts of the city not to do it, and I think it is important that there is a fairness in the system but in an international market where you have London as the centre of the international finance you are not going to attract the top people to do those sorts of jobs unless they are rewarded and they take huge risks as well I mean people are going to be losing their jobs in the banking sector

DIMBLEBY:
Both on my right want to come in here. First Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I just want to come back to this question about a full recession because to an economist this is a rather technical term but I don’t want to give the impression that I think life is going to be desperately easy over the next two or three years. I think growth is going to be slow I think inflation is going to be difficult, I think there are going to be problems in the housing market and when I can go back to the issue of inflation there is no doubt that fuel prices, food prices council taxes, taxes in general all of these things are rising now much much quicker than the average cost of living so that when people say oh inflation is 2.5% for an awful lot of people in this country it is not 2.5% it is more like (APPLAUSE) I think it is more like frankly 6% or 7% and if you are talking about average earnings going up by 3.5 or 4 % people are going to be faced with a falling standard of living so I do believe that is happening in fact I think that is happening now and it is going to continue to happen so I just wanted to give the impression that I wasn’t absolutely gung ho about the economy because I am not.

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman

JESSE NORMAN
You have successfully created that impression if I may say so Ruth …. no actually I think you are right, the actual standard of living is falling at the moment and that is a serious cause for concern. No, the point I was going to make is something slightly different One of the things that sticks in many people’s claws about these enormous salaries is that actually there is an asymmetry of risk and reward when the times are good, people make out like absolute bandits but when times are bad actually it is the shareholders who suffer, they are OK they go on to the next job there isn’t the sense that people in the city are bearing the same risks as they are bearing the benefits of

DIMBLEBY:
So what would you do about that?

JESSE NORMAN
Well I don’t think anyone has come up with a proper or sensible suggestion to that and it is not really clear that the government has got a workable proposal on that. I am just trying to get a handle on what it is that makes people so angry and certainly when I talk to Hereford where I come from the average wage, the average household earnings is £23 to £24,000 that is a day, a week’s earnings for some of these people and that is unnerving. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Our next please?


GEOFF WILKINS
Does the panel think that cyclists who flout the rules of the road should be prosecuted for the same figure as motorists?

DIMBLEBY
I will come back to you on this Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
I have been a very keen cyclist since the age of dot, my first job was a paper round on a bike, a meat round and I absolutely don’t agree. No I think cyclists should be given a completely different deal rather like pedestrians and I think there should be a left turn on red lights for cyclists as indeed for motorists, I think there should be all kinds of ways allowed to get people on bikes taking exercise, see the world engage in breathing…..

DIMBLEBY:
Should they be allowed to break the law as it stands with impunity?

JESSE NORMAN
No… (LAUGHTER)

DIMBLEBY:
So if the Daily Mirror’s report is correct. It alleges that the leader of the conservative party has been breaking almost every kind of law on his bicycle in one way or another. If those allegations prove to be sustainable would you like to see the leader of your party prosecuted?

JESSE NORMAN
Certainly not. I think the law should be changed. I think he has done a wonderful job of flying the flag for changing the law on cyclists as I might add has Boris Johnson

DIMBLEBY:
What view of this do you take Minister?

BEN BRADSHAW
As you probably know I am also a cyclist but I am not one who has a limousine driving behind me with my briefcase and suit in it.

DIMBLEBY:
Have you ever broken the law?

BEN BRADSHAW
Sorry?

DIMBLEBY:
Have you ever broken the law?

BEN BRADSHAW
Yes I have ridden without lights when I shouldn’t have (CHEERS) But I think on balance since I have been in public life I have not taken the risk of going through a red light and being recognized but partly because I think

DIMBLEBY:
You mean you wear a mask when you are going through a red light?

BEN BRADSHAW
No I wouldn’t wear a mask but I would have worn a helmet. No but seriously I think the law is there to protect cyclists as well and their safety and I get a lot of letters in the constituency from pedestrians particularly elderly people who are really scared by people cycling on pavements and it’s a big issue and I think it is important that the police crack down on anti social and illegal behaviour which is dangerous to other people it is also dangerous to cyclists themselves but one thing I do agree with Jesse on we need to make the roads safer for cyclists, more cycle lanes so that more people can do it safely without having to take the risks of going through red lights or cycling on the pavement which some people do.(APPLAUSE)

POLLY TOYNBEE
Well I am very lucky because I have been given a beautiful new bike by my children for my birthday recently. I am a very nervous new cyclist. I am quite wobbly. I certainly don’t shoot any lights. I wear my yellow jacket, I have lots of lights on my bike and I find cycling in London absolutely terrifying, absolutely terrifying but its also exhilarating and one of the best ways of getting round. Of course we need separate cycle lanes as you get all through Germany, all through Holland and through lots of Europe we are miles behind on this. We shouldn’t be cycling on pavements but you really can take slices of pavement and make them into dedicated small cycling lanes and I would certainly want prosecuted those mad cyclists who wear aggressive lycra and shout and yell and go at incredible speed, They are absolutely terrifying, just as frightening as lorries when they pass cyclists like me who are a bit wobbly. We do need our own cycle lanes (APPLAUSE)

RUTH LEA
Well I am not a cyclist and I have had altercations with cyclists on more than one occasion mainly because they are riding on the footpaths so I am perhaps not as sympathetic to cyclists as some other people in this room but I do agree that there should be separate cycle lanes of course there should and that would solve the problem but if cyclists do break the law then I am sorry I think they should have their collars felt.

DIMBLEBY:
Whoever they may be

RUTH LEA
Whoever they may be. Well fortunately I am not the prospective candidate for Hereford…..excuse me sir what are you doing here and you are going the wrong way down a one way street and it is dangerous I am sorry to seem such a bore but it is dangerous but of course to some degree to treat a cyclist as a motorist is a different order of things, it is one thing to be run over by a cyclist, it is a very different thing to be run over by a motorist. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
I am sure Jesse Norman would have like the chance to have pointed out that I think David Cameron did apologise for any error that he might have made … profusely says someone from the floor. Geoff Wilkins you put the question what do you think?

GEOFF WILKINS
Well I do feel that if there was an accident the motorist would get the blame anyway.

DIMBLEBY:
You may have thoughts about that 08700 100 444 is the telephone number. The email address is any.answers@bbc.co.uk. Out next question please.


DAVID WATSON
Should this country feel guilty about the death of Ama Sumani who was returned to Ghana with a disease said not to be treatable there.

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee?

POLLY TOYNBEE
I think we all feel awful about it. I think it is devastating and dreadful but absolutely inevitable. When you think about it how can we possibly accept into a National Health Service all of the sick of the world and we can’t do that. This was somebody who had overstayed their student visa and just because she got some treatment here, was lucky enough to get some treatment here I am afraid it didn’t justify her staying on the other hand almost everything to do with migration is like that, particular decisions you have to make are excruciatingly painful and they are very difficult to make but I don’t think you could open the door to everyone who has cancer in the developing world or everyone in Africa who has AIDS. It is all the more reason why we should go on increasing our aid budget which we are but you have to do your best to treat people in their own countries and to get their own health services up to scratch. I am very glad our government is committed to producing for the first time, to agree the amount of money for aid that the UN says that every developed country should provide and I think that is the right way to go, otherwise the NHS will collapse and certainly public support for it will. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea?

RUTH LEA
I think Jesse expressed earlier in the evening he was surprised he had agreed with pretty much everything that Polly had said could I just say that I have agreed with just about everything that Polly has said here tonight and we are all too aware of the huge pressures on the health service as it is. I think only this week we have been reading stories about maternity wards closing down. Now goodness me what is happening to the health service when it has had such a huge increase in public funding over last 10 years. I think public funding has gone up more than twice as much, it has more than doubled and yet we have these huge pressures on resources and given the fact that people are living longer, thank goodness, because I have just turned 60 myself and I want to live a long time thank you very much and there are more and more conditions you can actually treat. You know, you know that these pressures on the health service are going to continue but having said all that I totally agree with what Polly has just said.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Minister of State for the Dept of Health, she was in hospital at the time in Wales as you know. 5 immigration officials came and against her will they took her away in a wheelchair and then put her on a plane and the Lancet said it was an atrocious barbarism to do this. What is your response to that particular observation?


BEN BRADSHAW
I think this is a terribly, terribly difficult case but at the same time I think it is important as Polly said that we don’t make the rules based on individual cases like this however distressing they are, however painful they are to witness. What happened to this lady, because as Ruth has said, we have a health service that is based on the taxes that you pay here and if we were to simply say to people that they can come from anywhere in the world with whatever conditions and get that treatment free here I think the real danger is that people here who are still having to wait for their treatment would not feel very happy about that and however much sympathy we all have for this woman and for her family I don’t think it would be right to use the emotional pull of this case to create that sort of open door policy.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?

JESSE NORMAN
Well one certainly wishes that the gigantic amount of money that has been spent on the NHS over the last 10 years had been better spent. I think that is a very important issue which we should keep coming back to. But on this there are issues of principle actually involved here which we must focus on. One is what is the nature of a relationship of care between a doctor and patient who is already on a course of treatment from which they are then taken and I think there must be some scope for a more humane arrangement without breaching Polly’s very well taken point about the importance of not taking as it were being the ultimate carer for the entire world. There must be some point at which we allow the specific relationship between a doctor and a patient to be honoured during a course of treatment and it seems to me to be extremely inhumane to be taking someone out of that and then deporting them so maybe there is an issue of principle as well to be discussed. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Let’s just pick that up. Ben Bradshaw do you in principle have sympathy given the general position you have taken do you in principle have sympathy with that point which was being made by Jesse?

BEN BRADSHAW
I have sympathy that this must have been very difficult for the clinicians involved and I suspect this is why the Lancet took the approach that it did but its different from whether as a clinician you feel that something is right as to whether as the holder of the public purse, which is what the government’s role is, as to whether something is right and whether by making an exception in this one particular case you could end up with consequences that would be far reaching for the burden on the health service which I don’t think people would welcome.

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?


JESSE NORMAN
It might simply be don’t send the heavies in when someone is during the course of treatment for cancer I don’t think that is a particularly difficult rule to implement. It is because there was a disconnection between the two different parts of government that this rather difficult situation arose it seems to me.

DIMBLEBY:
I’ll ask our audience here on this extremely difficult issue do you think the right decision was made in this case. Those who think it was the right decision would you put your hands up? Those who think she should have been allowed to finish her course of treatment in the way that was outlined by Jesse Norman would you put your hands up? Well there is a small majority if I am right, a small majority in favour of allowing her to have completed her treatment. Again I will give you that Any Answers number for Easter Saturday 08700 100 444. And we will go to our next please?


PETER CARD
With China’s record on human rights abuse and their current activities in Tibet should the UK Olympic team still be going to Beijing?

DIMBLEBY:
Ruth Lea

RUTH LEA
I think it should actually and not least of all because we have got the Olympics in 2012 and it would look absolutely appalling if we weren’t there but I think it is important to go and to embarrass the Chinese than to actually not to go at all. I think the Chinese have behaved absolutely appallingly may I say but I don’t think it helps if you are not going to actually connect with them.

DIMBLEBY:
How do you embarrass the Chinese by going?

RUTH LEA
Well I think your very presence there you can see what is going on, whereas if you don’t go what are you saying you are just walking away from the whole situation. That’s how I see it. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY:
Polly Toynbee

POLLY TOYNBEE
We have got a very small window of opportunity when we do for once have some leverage which we will never have again on the Chinese government. After the Olympics I think they will be absolutely transcendent. I think we should this maximum period of leverage for all the countries who feel strongly about Tibet to urge China really strongly to give far more autonomy to the Tibetan people in the way that Dalai Lama suggests which is not total independence but autonomy of governance. The Dalai Lama is a very reasonable man who doesn’t believe in violence, he is appalled at the idea that any of his own Tibetan followers might have been attacking Chinese people just because they were Chinese in Tibet. He is a peaceable man and a reasonable man and I think that we should all threaten, make it a possibility that we should not go to the Olympics unless they sit down and have reasoned discussions with the Dalai Lama with the view to bringing him back home with a measure of autonomy.

DIMBLEBY:
So you would put a condition on going?

POLLY TOYNBEE
I think that would be the implied condition. I think that between now and then we really should use this because after that it will be a free for all, they can move in the entire army. I think the very fact they are not letting the journalists in, we should insist that there should be foreign observers and journalists in there now at the one time that China is letting journalists in much more but not into Tibet.

DIMBLEBY:
Ben Bradshaw?

BEN BRADSHAW
I wouldn’t support a boycott and it is very interesting that the Dalai Lama himself has said he doesn’t want a boycott. He is very supportive of the Olympics and I think that
Polly and Ruth are right the Olympics actually gives the international community the opportunity to increase the pressure on China and what better way really in this Olympic year for China to improve its reputation in the world than to sit down with the Dalai Lama and sort out the Tibetan situation once and for all.

DIMBLEBY:
What is the pressure that you put on if you say we are coming regardless, for whatever good reason you may be going, what kind of pressure are you putting on? I mean Polly Toynbee suggested a degree of pressure i.e. you talk to the Dalai Lama or we might not come

BEN BRADSHAW
I think there are different ways of pressuring and I am not an expert on China or the Chinese

DIMBLEBY:
You’ve been a Foreign Minister

BEN BRADSHAW
Oh yes but not I have never been to China but I am told by those people who know China very well that they respond better to some types of pressure than they do to others and not being an expert myself I wouldn’t want to second guess the sort of pressure that works best but those people who know China very well suggest that we are more likely to see progress in China following up its amazing economic progress with real political reform and liberalization including the settling of the issue of Tibet if we continue to talk and engage and yes raise human rights and yes meet the Dalai Lama when he comes but not to take our bat away from the stump altogether that is likely to not lead to the right response.

DIMBLEBY:
You wanted a quick…

POLLY TOYNBEE
Wouldn’t it be disgraceful if this government pussy footed over this simply because we are worried about protecting our own Olympics. I really think this is our one opportunity to make a real difference to the Tibetan people and we should use it and not simply say well that’s not how we are responding

BEN BRADSHAW
I agree with you it’s a question of how we do it

DIMBLEBY:
Jesse Norman?


JESSE NORMAN
I do think the |Prime Minister has been unbelievably feeble so far on this I mean he started off kind of ignoring the Dalai Lama, dithering and then deciding that he would see him thus massively communicating that he wasn’t interested in the issue or he was prepared to be persuaded by the press. So it has been a scandal so far. There is no evidence of any really consistent opposition policy to China on the Tibet issue

DIMBLEBY:
What should it be?

JESSE NORMAN
Well hold on a second. Let’s just start off on what happened which was in 1950 China invaded Tibet, it was a colonial annexation by China and that should never be forgotten. The Olympics are a celebration of openness and international freedom and the exchange of ideas and sporting achievement and those are the ideas we should be bringing back into the discussion with China so absolutely let us leave open the status of whether we are going to go or not, let’s get as many people as we possibly can out there and start blowing the whistle on what is actually happening. I do think that Malcolm Rifkin had a rather good idea on this today when he suggested that the Chinese had actually been prepared to contemplate a two track arrangement with Hong Kong in which it was a bastion of capitalism within a communist system and something similar should be worked out for Tibet and that should be the object of our diplomatic endeavors.

DIMBLEBY:
But none of what you just said however helpful or useful it might be suggests that you are intending or would put more pressure on the Chinese authority than the Government is already doing.

JESSE NORMAN
Well I don’t think that is true at all first of all I think, well the first thing

DIMBLEBY
What would David Cameron do?

JESSE NORMAN
Well the first thing he said instantly is that he would see the Dalai Lama and that is first step of it. I think that you know again I am not a diplomat we should look at the channels involved but pressure to open up Tibet, pressure to allow the journalists to go in, perhaps the issue of the Olympic torch which is supposed to be let go through London on its run you know how would that be handled? There are a series of ways in which we ought to be able to put pressure on the Chinese who are extremely oriented around saving face in order to make them understand the nature of international concern on this issue.

DIMBLEBY:
Thank you very much and I am afraid that brings us to the end of this weeks programme. Next week we are going to be in London at the Lambeth Academy. On our panel will be amongst others, Brian Paddick who is staying as Mayor of London for the Liberal Democrats, Sir Keith Bowers the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Kathy Sykes from Bristol University and AN Other watch this space. Meanwhile don’t forget Any Answers 08700 100 444 from Barrington Village Hall, Barrington in Somerset, Goodbye.
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