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ANY QUESTIONS
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Journey of a Lifetime
Transcript: Any Questions? 20 March 2009
CHAIRMAN: JONATHAN DIMBLEBY


PANELLISTS:

BORIS JOHNSON:
Mayor of London

TONY McNULTY MP:

Minister of State for Employment and Minister for London

BISHOP OF ROCHESTER:

Rt Rev Dr MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI

PROFESSOR LISA JARDINE:

Academic and Director of the Human Fertilization and
Embryology Authority (HFEA)

From: King’s College London & KCL Student Union
The Auditorium,
Franklin Wilkins Building,
Stamford Street,
London
SE1 9NH.



DIMBLEBY:
Welcome to King’s College London where this edition of Any Questions? forms part of the celebrations for the centenary of the students union. Kings has almost 20,000 students from 150 countries. Among its faculties it has the largest centre for the education of doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals in Europe. Its Alumni ranges from Florence Nightingale to Desmond Tutu to Thomas Hardy and Rory Bremner. On our panel here in the auditorium of the Franklin Wilkins Building, which is the largest university building here in London, the former Editor of the Spectator, former MP, former Shadow Minister and of course Mayor of London, now Boris Johnson who manages somehow working long hours to combine that role with another as a star columnist on the Daily Telegraph for a fee that is widely reported to be not unadjacent to (he is sighing) not unadjacent to a £quarter of a million a year some of which he gives away to charity. Is that right?

BORIS JOHNSON
I don’t like to discuss my donations to charity (LAUGH) in great detail Jonathan.
It is not something I like to make much of.


DIMBLEBY
Of course not. Or the £250,000?

BORIS JOHNSON
I think that is a matter of public record.

DIMBLEBY
OK so it is only one thing

BORIS JOHNSON
Well I don’t want to do anything to dissuade them by anything I say tonight so perhaps we can move off the subject.

DIMBLEBY
The Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali was born in Pakistan where he grew up to become the youngest Anglican Bishop in the world. Bishop of Rochester since 1994, a member of the House of Lords since 1999 he has frequently provoked headlines about outspoken comments about gay marriages and gay adoption, he is against and warnings that Islam is threatening to fill the moral vacuum as he puts it created by the decline of Christianity. Commentators upon church matters regard him as something of a thorn in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s flesh. Is that about right?

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
Not at all I am just a thorn. I mean there are various roses around and ….

DIMBLEBY
Professor Lisa Jardine is a Senior Academic at Queen Mary’s University of London, a specialist in Renaissance Studies and the author of many books of impeccable scholarship that nonetheless sell so well as to make her peers green with envy. Alongside all that she shares the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority of which incidentally the Bishop was a recent member. Tony McNulty is a Minister of State, the Minister of State for Employment and the Minister for London. He is one of that select group who finds himself dispatched to the front line when bullets to fly. He is generally presumed to be wearing an impermeable political flack jacket which with unemployment now over 2 million may be a very good thing. He is the 4th member of our panel

(APPLAUSE)

Our first question please.

DANIEL WALKER-NAYLOR
What does the panel think the effect of another rise in tuition fees will be to an already greatly indebted graduate population?

DIMBLEBY
The Vice Chancellors or a large number of them would like to see the fees rise to double up to £6,500 or even higher than that. Professor Jardine?

LISA JARDINE
Well the effect will be shocking. I teach in the Mile End Road in the East End of London where a very large number of our students are still first generation in university but actually their families don’t earn so little that they would get tuition fees paid so we see the debt which I think is currently about £15,000 when students finish. We see that debt right across the university and we will see that rise to £32,000 if these kinds of figures are brought in. However and I am trying to avoid the eye of the Principal of Kings College London I do

DIMBLEBY
Who is in our audience here?

LISA JARDINE
I do, (in the second row) However

DIMBLEBY
You have got tenure haven’t you so it doesn’t matter too much you can say what you like.

(LAUGH)

LISA JARDINE
I cannot believe that again the University Vice Chancellors have cheerfully thrown the university students to the dogs because there was no need to come on board with a suggestion of a huge raise in tuition fees before it had ever been asked for but the reason they have done so and I think effectively shot us all in the foot is that you cannot teach students on the tuition fees that they allowed to be introduced last time round so this is effectively the second time that what is going to happen, I am sorry I haven’t put that quite right. This is the occasion on which what they did the last time which was to say OK we will have a low fee doesn’t represent what it costs for students to teach them never mind now it does matter because there is such a shortfall and therefore they have got to go up so it is a disaster and I really, all the students in this audience, I am sorry.

(APPLAUISE)

DIMBLEBY
Boris Johnson

BORIS JOHNSON
Well I think Lisa was saying I am sorry but I think the fees have to go up unless I have misunderstood greatly what you were saying

LISA JARDINE
That is an amazing bit of putting words into my mouth Boris Johnson

BORIS JOHNSON
Well you know I that am very possibly the very tragic reality of the case. I think both political parties are going to try to fudge this, all political parties’ correction. There are other political parties are going to try to fudge this before the next election because it is an inconvenient issue. It is very very difficult and the trick that needs to be pulled off is we need to find a way of very satisfactorily funding higher education in this country and making sure that great universities such as the one that we sit in are properly financed and have the wherewithal to deliver the fantastic education that they are without prejudicing the ability of people from lower income backgrounds to go to university. That will be very very difficult to accomplish. It will take a lot of work but I do think if you look at, if you compare UK Higher Education with the American model or other comparative countries against whom we must compete I don’t think that we can funk the issue of reform of funding and whether, how far the cap has to come up and how you do it, how you help poorer students is all a matter for debate but I simply don’t think we can stay forever at the current level of tuition fees and if by so saying I have forfeited, hemorrhaged votes tonight then so be it but it is my profound belief that we need better financing of our universities.

DIMBLEBY
Tony McNulty

TONY McNULTY
I shan’t put words in Boris’s mouth. I agree with that last point but I think I agree with Lisa too that the Vice Chancellor has been a little premature. We said very very clearly that by the end of this academic year when we have a cohort that has gone all the way through we will review the situation and review it we must. But I don’t know if this is a kind of early bid or an early placement of their position on the table but we must look at it.

DIMBLEBY
When you say review that is a code word for saying they have got to go up isn’t unless you are going to reduce the numbers.

TONY McNULTY
No I think review means look at all aspects of fees and student support. We know that I think on the latest figures the increase from richer families is about 8% and from poorer families is about 38% but is the bursary system and all that quite as it should be? You can’t look at just the level of fees without looking at the whole array of the system. If fees went up you would have to change all that support accordingly given the promises about support for students of poorer families that we have made so it is not simply tick a box, raise the cap you do have to look at everything but I don’t resolve from the point that Boris makes we do need to fund higher education..

DIMBLEBY
He also says that the Parties will fudge it because no one wants to go into the election promising or committed to higher funds. Will it be one of those things that are kicked in as people have alleged, your colleagues on air is going to be kicked into touch until you can start to review it but make jolly sure you don’t come up with any conclusion until after the next election.

TONY McNULTY
Well this sounds like a cop out but it is not my department so I don’t think that is the case. (LAUGH) And if it was a fudge to keep it in the long grass then it was a prescient fudge because I think the review was announced about 3 years ago.

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
I think there are fundamental principles here. I mean the first thing is that this announcement seems incredibly mistimed. this is the time that we have got to make sure that people’s levels of indebtedness don’t go up and even more importantly anxiety about debt doesn’t go up but having said that well of course universities must be well funded for fundamental research and for attracting the right teachers. Better off families must pay more but we must make sure that students who can’t afford to don’t get into debt in such a way that they can’t pay it off.

DIMBLEBY
Going back to our questioner Daniel Walker- Naylor.

DANIEL WALKER NAYLOR
Just to say two points really. I think possibly the effect of it will create a multi tier system whereby poorer students will go to institutions of a lower quality of education which obviously perpetuate a quality divide in a society and second just to say just agree with Michael Nazir Ali and say that I don’t think it is particularly efficient to saddle young people with such tremendous amounts of debt especially considering the financial outlook in the country at the moment

DIMBLEBY
Thank you let me ask the very large audience here some of whom are from the university some probably not. Do you think that one way or another fees are going to have to go up? Those who think they will have to go up would you show your hands? Those who think they don’t need to go up or won’t need to go up? Well there is a very large majority here that believes that one way or another they are going to have to go up. Lisa Jardine just one more thing are you as committed as the Labour Party which is a facet of this issue that the target of 50% of people leaving school should go to university?

LISA JARDINE
Well as long as you separate me from a party political position

DIMBLEBY
I am asking you

LISA JARDINE
Yes I am committed actually I think every day that a young person spends in education is a day well spent and will improve their prospects for the rest of their lives and I think that 50% of the cohort going to university is exactly what I, I mean I can’t set it any higher but I would set it at 100% if I could.

DIMBLEBY
Boris Johnson on that. What is your view?

BORIS JOHNSON
Well my view is that there is no particular need to set a target or quota. Make it 60%. I don’t particularly care I do think that you should expand higher education and I think it is a fantastic social benefit, it offers people the single in my view the single most powerful force for social mobility in this country is getting student kids from poor backgrounds to go to good universities and so to answer the questioner’s point about the two tier system that he fears will be created I mean the onus upon the people drawing up the report into raising the cap is to provide evidence of how the good universities are going to stop that happening by coming up with the scholarships and the bursaries and the outreach programmes and everything else that will widen participation and allow people form poor backgrounds to go to university. That is an absolutely essential part of what we must do.

DIMBLEBY
We must move on but very quickly Tony McNulty

TONY McNULTY
I was only going to say I think that is right and we remain wedded to the 50% but don’t forget returners. 20 odd years ago I taught for a long time at the university of North London where we were physically actually doing life long learning that everybody else just talked about and the notion that you know academe should be open to people not just at that first hurdle after school but subsequently as and when they feel they can come back to it I think is very important.

DIMBLEBY
Our next question please.

CASPIN NAZIRI
What should the top rate of tax be and at what level of income should it apply?

DIMBLEBY
Do you from the cloth as it were have a view on this Bishop? We know that the labour party is committed to raising the top rate but not clear at exactly what point to 45% and the conservatives are thinking about it.

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
I mean the fact is that someone will have to pay for bailing out the bankers. And I would rather it was the rich who paid in the end than the poor. I mean that is the fundamental moral point. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Lisa Jardine

LISA JARDINE
Well the one I really like which is half answering your question is the measure that the American government is in the process of putting through which says there should be a 90% tax rate on the bonuses of those who earn over £250,000 a year which look to me as if it is going seriously to claw back those bonuses which we are told by our government cannot be clawed back from those of our bankers who have let our banking system slide into collapse so I like that one. I am not recommending 90% tax level but I can tell you I am sufficiently ancient that when I was a child my father who was a broadcaster amongst other things did pay 90% on the top 10%of his earnings and therefore gave the top 10% of his earnings away. Before it came to him so that is a kind of interesting aspect of raised taxation.

DIMBLEBY
So he didn’t in fact pay that top rate

LISA JARDINE
No and therefore charitable giving was actually assisted by the 90% top tax rate. Nobody is talking 90% but 40% has been with us for what 20 years and salaries have gone up stupendously in some sectors so the fact that there is only one band above whatever the threshold is and because I am not a politician what the threshold is.

DIMBLEBY
Well the top rate kicks in at about £38,000.

LISA JARDINE
Then I think I would, I would recommend a second step. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
If you were master of all you surveyed rather than just London, Boris Johnson, what would your top rate be and at what level?

BORIS JOHNSON
Yes well I think I am going to have a pretty tough evening because I have not only had to go in and defend reform of university finance in which I strongly believe in defiance of this distinguished audience tonight but also I have to say that I am afraid that I think that it is, not right to think you can solve the problems of the economy by endlessly jacking up tax rates. And I am afraid that (APPLAUSE) the , as much as we may want to punish the greedy bankers and I am all in favour of that I just I am afraid I have to have a regard and I have to think about the long term competitiveness of the UK economy and of London in particular and we must look as though we are willing to encourage talent and encourage people who are going to create wealth and that is I am afraid, I will say by the way if I can just try and be popular, desperately try and be populist and rescue my position I will say I agree totally with Lisa about taking away the bonuses or rather anybody who is receiving a taxpayer funded bonus form the people of this country is in I think a completely morally abominable position and

DIMBLEBY
Anybody who takes on a bonus even the low paid

BORIS JOHNSON
I am sorry the bankers receiving tax payer funded bonuses now because their institutions are being supported by the taxpayer should never have been allowed to get into that position and it should be stopped forthwith. So I would have 100% withdrawal , I would go further than Lisa and have 100% withdrawal of banker bonuses of taxpayer funded, taxpayer funded banker bonuses . That is the best I can do

DIMBLEBY
On, Mayor Mayor if you would be so kind. The, if, how would London be deleteriously effected if what we are told is in the minds, by the people closest to David Cameron were to be enacted namely 45% on those earning £150,000 plus a year what would be the negative impact on London?

BORIS JOHNSON
This is a tough corner to fight but I am going to fight it. It sends out a signal to people who what to create wealth, to people who are energetic, who believe that they have something to do in the city and then can generate new industries or drive huge enterprises of one kind or another. It sends out a signal that we basically want to take more of their proceeds away and I think it is a deterrent to enterprise and I have to put that into consideration and particularly when you consider that it will only take about £2 billion, a grand maximum for the Treasury compared to the huge sum that will go to the Treasury form raising national insurance contributions that everybody has to pay and every body suffers from so I don’t think it is economically sensible although I understand it is very much the mood of the times to want to clobber the rich and I bow to popular sentiment on this matter I simply nervously suggest to you that we don’t want to be going back down the slippery slope towards the 1970’s punish the rich, squeeze them until the pips squeak Denis Healy lunacy that brought Britain to the brink of economic bankruptcy.

DIMBLEBY
Hold it, hold it. Not economically sensible my cue before I bring in Tony McNulty to remind the conservative party and any other member of the Shadow Cabinet that the AnyAnswers number after the Saturday broadcast of this programme is 03700 100 444, the email address any.answers@bbc.co.uk. Tony McNulty

TONY McNULTY
I think the Chancellor was perfectly right to say that when we introduced the pre budget report that as I think the bishop was indicating you have to start paying this back. You clearly have to, the last thing you do in a period of downturn in recession is claw back on public expenditure or what we have been trying to do in re-stabilising the banks and getting them to move round the economy but I think we would have been treated rather disparagingly particularly by the markets had we not said how do we start to pay that back. So yes the national insurance thing has to kick in after the 13 months but initially we are saying we will see what happens to the downturn and yes 45% should come in.

DIMBLEBY
But Caspin Nazari wants to know at which level it should, apply, what level of income?

TONY McNULTY
I genuinely can’t remember if he said one hundred or one hundred and fifty thousand, but we did I think make it clear at the PBR. Boris said at the time I think in one of his flurries about particular senior government ministers acting like drunken dowagers who have been at the sherry bottle too much as he does that this would wreck London as a financial centre

BORIS JOHNSON
Oh no that is an exaggeration, come on

TONY McNULTY
Doom and gloom will descend upon London because of a 5% increase in tax at the top level. Well I could exaggerate too and clobber the language compared to your eloquence I know that but I think if we hadn’t said and here is how you started well clearly the absolute ideal in terms of these things is that just as tax years have gone down in a downturn they go up significantly in an upturn but we do need to start filling that gap and I think it is entirely actually fair as well as reasonable to do it as we set it out.

DIMBLEBY
Lisa Jardine you have been very patient do you want to come in?

LISA JARDINE
I think I am just perplexed as one of those people who thinks if you are fortunate enough to earn quite a lot of money that you should pay quite a lot of it back to help all those people and not in a sort of pious way just I don’t quite see how a community functions particularly in times like the present one if you don’t just commit to that so I can never quite understand how politicians are so sure that it is a vote loser to talk about tax rises.

(APPALUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Brief final thought on this Michael Nazir-Ali

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
I think this talk about competitiveness is buck because for all these years we have been told that these people who come to work in the city are needed here because they create wealth and actually what we have found is that they have created debt. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Boris do you want to come to their rescue

BORIS JOHNSON
Well I hate to differ with a man of the cloth about you know what these people have done. And obviously it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and all the rest of it but I happen to think, I happen to think,

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
I am thinking about the poor Boris

BORIS JOHNSON
I know you are and you are quite right because if you think about the poor in London and the poor throughout this country then I am afraid it is also true and worth reflecting on that they have benefited hugely from the 9% of GDP or the 13% of value added which is crated by the financial services industry in the city of London and without that tax revenue of about £86billion from the city alone we would not have the funds we need Bishop to pay for the schools and the hospitals and other things that we need for the poor and so I am afraid I really do think, I r...

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
…trillion pounds into those institutions where are those funds?

DIMBLEBY
We will go on at that point

BORIS JOHNSON
Those funds are to be earned by babes unborn. I mean that is the reality of where those funds are.

DIMBLEBY
On which note to our next please

EMILY DRAYSON
As Barack Obama appears on Tonight with Jay Leno should Gordon Brown make a guest appearance on Jonathan Ross?

(LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
Would it do him any favours Minister of State?

TONY McNULTY
Well let me start by answering in this fashion. This isn’t to avoid the question. (LAUGH) I really enjoy American TV and I am afraid without being mean comparing Jonathan Ross to Jay Leno is just beyond utterly should be rebuked there is no comparison

DIMBLEBY
Which is the one you prefer?

TONY McNULTY
Oh I favour Jay Leno much much more than Jonathan Ross. I am actually very much in favour of politicians, including Prime Ministers appearing on as much media as possible, because the notion of somehow in our little village if you are on Radio 4 the whole world hears you

DIMBLEBY
Most of the world hears you if you are on Any Questions?

TONY McNULTY
Of course there are absolute exceptions of course and that GMTV is something sniffy to do or some other day time show you shouldn’t do the message is there and the message should get across and I will also make the distinction I think between the wider national media and outside London certainly, regional media, regional radio people do need and should be able to have their politicians in each and every level of the media including sadly Jonathan Ross. You ask me to advise Gordon whether he should go on Jonathan Ross. I would send him tapes of David Cameron’s efforts on Jonathan Ross and tell Gordon to stay a million miles away from him but that is more about Ross than the accessibility of the Prime Minister.

DIMBLEBY
Michael Nazir Ali.

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
Yes Jonathan I think it would be a disaster because the name Gordon Brown has two r’s in it and as we all now (LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
Boris Johnson?

BORIS JOHNSON
Well yes of course I think I have all sorts of reasons for thinking the Prime Minister should go on Jonathan Ross as soon as possible and what he should do is then contribute to his very, his enormous BBC fee for appearing on the show to the Mayor’s fund for London that is what he should do.

TONY McNULTY
Which currently has no money at all in it of course

BORIS JOHNSON
Well no on the contrary it is doing extremely well thank you and if there are any bankers just to get back to the bankers. Any bankers listening who may want to palliate their guilt for possessing these taxpayer funded bonuses which this government has incompetently allowed them to acquire then they can also give it to the mayor’s fund. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
That is your last free hit. Lisa Jardine. Tony you go on

TONY McNULTY
He needs to because there is no private money in the Mayor’s fund so …

LISA JARDINE
Oh come on.

DIMBLEBY
I am not allowed to go there

TONY McNULTY
My point was merely an enquiry and that was whether Boris had advised David Cameron to go on Jonathan Ross

LISA JARDINE
I ask you audience would you let either of these gentlemen go on Jonathan Ross (LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
Haven’t you been on Jonathan Ross Boris?

BORIS JOHNSON
I think it is one of the few things I haven’t done. I don’t think I have been invited.

DIMBLEBY
Lisa

LISA JARDINE
This whole discussion is actually making me feel extremely compassionate towards Gordon Brown because Gordon Brown has great trouble setting out to the ridiculous antics of Prime Ministers Question Time which he absolutely hates, he absolutely hates that whole business of you know Punch and Judy brick bat but the idea of throwing him to not the lion but whatever what Jonathan Ross is the idea of the Prime Minister appearing with him actually gives me sort of slightly cold wobbles and I actually to tell you the truth I am not absolutely certain that Barack Obama should have gone on the Jay Leno show. Because I am not absolutely certain that silver tongued as he is and a wonderful orator and wonderful presenter we just don’t want to get that kind of fascicle eloquence that you have on a talk show mixed up, Boris is looking at me, not that Barack is facilely eloquent but when you perform on a talk show you are of necessity required to be facilely eloquent and if that gets confused with the business of governing and speaking in the Senate then I get worried and

DIMBLEBY
Can’t you, the argument runs that you show you’re “human“ and that you can show other sides of your character and that you can talk about things that you don’t talk about in a formal speech.

LISA JARDINE
Anybody who watched the inauguration speech of Barack Obama knows that he is the kind of old style orator who can make the public understand that he is a man of the people without having to descent to going on a talk show. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Our next question please

CHLOE REEVES
How do you respond to the Pope’s claims this week that distributing condoms aggravates the problems of AIDS in Africa?

DIMBLEBY
Tony McNulty

TONY McNULTY
Well I am a Catholic and I have great respect for the Pope but I think if you speak to development organisations throughout Africa they will tell you that contraception is part of the answer to the fear of the spread of AIDS particularly around Southern Africa (APPLAUSE) so and I know that many Christian backed or Christian development organisation would say the same so I would respectfully disagree with the Holy Cardinal.

DIMBLEBY
He said of AIDS the quote attributed to him on the airplane was that “it is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone and cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms which even aggravates the problems”. Bishop?

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
Yes I think that given that quote there is a lot of sense in that though again I don’t completely agree with it. I think the point is this that anyone in a relationship with someone who is HIV positive has the right to defend themselves from disease to protect themselves from disease. That may mean using a condom. In fact the Pope himself has set up a panel on this question about when condoms may be used even by practicing Catholics in such a situation so that is the first thing. The other is of course that condoms are not a panacea. They are not the answer to the question of HIV and of AIDS in Africa or anywhere else that has to do with faithfulness in relationships. That has to be taught, people have to be taught that from the very beginning and society has to value it. There is a kind of contraceptive mentality around and as I say in Africa certainly AIDS spreads very largely because of promiscuity, this also then traps innocent people, partners of those well it does how else do you think it spreads (laugh) innocent people are of course trapped by this and as I say they need to protect themselves and if they have to use condoms to protect themselves then so be it.;

DIMBLEBY
Lisa Jardine

LISA JARDINE
I am going to try and tread very carefully and I am not sure that I will succeed. As you know I chair the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority and I have such difficulty with the proposition that it is the Catholic church but not only the Catholic church makes that IVF is not permissible in vitro fertilization is not permissible because it involves the destruction of embryos and because human life is created at the moment at which out of respect for human life which is created the moment in which the sperm and the egg can join now it isn’t that I don’t respect the beliefs and the underlying faith it really is not. It is as in the case of Africa and HIV when a profoundly believing community confront calamity must there not be room for manoeuvre. That is what I can’t understand, I cannot understand the no room for maneuver. And the pope, the reason the Pope has to keep reiterating this about condoms is that it is a kind of first principle form which he cannot reside and yet here we are facing a huge I mean a catastrophe beyond any of our wildest dreams 20 years ago or even today I suspect. And surely churches are where you have to begin the discussion about how the practicalities have got to be brought in line or brought alongside those deeply held beliefs and in both the fields infertility and HIV I think we have such a long way to go and I keep saying and I say it again that on the HEFA we would just love to sit down and have these discussions completely in private about how we might move in that direction and I suggest that that is what happened around HIV that those who feel uncomfortable with this position within the Catholic church have got to get into some kind of serious conversation about how we are going to deal with this.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Boris Johnson

BORIS JOHNSON
Well obviously the Pope has got a doctrine, a religion a point of view that he is perfectly entitled indeed duty bound to uphold and actually I agree with Michael that condoms aren’t the only solution to the problem of AIDS. Obviously you need to aid female emancipation, you need to tackle all sorts of scourges to help deal with AIDS but to say that condoms and the medical advantages that they supply are not part of the solution and forbid people from using them as a point of religious doctrine when they might run the risk of death seems to me to be frankly demented and that is my point of view. (APPLUASE)

DIMBLEBY
Tony

TONY McNULTY
I was simply going to say I think the Pope is right in the fist part of the quote that it is not just about money either it is about prevention it is about health awareness, it is about investment in health services and a whole range of other issues in Africa as well as elsewhere. We must fight the scourge of AIDS

DIMBLEBY
Is it not the case that all the agencies to which you touched on all would say amen to that? No one doesn't think that there are a whole range of factors involved in approaching the catastrophe.

TONY McNULTY
I think exactly so but all I meant was that it is not just obverse of what the Pope has said that somehow condoms are the answer and that is all bit is about a whole array of things.

DIMBLEBY
Going back to our questioner on this Chloe Reeves

CHLOE REEVES
What I would just like to mention is that as no one else has although this is what the Pope originally said it is not what he officially said because the Holy See has now revised his actual statement so although he may have originally said this perhaps we are moving towards what Lisa was talking about that there is maybe and hopefully, respectfully a shift form absolute doctrine and people are, the catholic church is staring to engage with what is happening in society and what society is facing today.

DIMBLEBY
Thank you we will go to our next question. (Applause)

SHATA CHAKRABATI
I am from the US where the drinking age is 21 and so I am asking why are increased prices for alcohol being considered before rising the drinking age.

DIMBLEBY
Up to what? 21 in your…

SHATA CHAKRABATI
Up to 21

DIMBLEBY
Mayor

BORIS JOHNSON
Well increased prices for alcohol are certainly not being considered by the Mayor absolutely not and I want you to know (LAUGH) and I think it is a deeply regressive measure ladies and gentlemen because the fact is that if you whack up the price of alcohol in the way that I think Liam Donaldson was proposing then that will fall most heavily on some of the poorest groups in society and I frankly don’t think that is the way to go. I do think we need a campaign of education, we need people to realise their limits, stop getting quite so drunk the whole time we need more PCSO’s out, safer neighbourhood teams to exercise a deterrent in particularly some of our town centres and just to show you I am not a complete patsy on the subject of alcohol you may be familiar with the fact that on the buses, on the tubes, on the trams and on the docklands light railway since I was elected forbidden to drink alcohol that is and...

DIMBLEBY
This (APPLAUSE) is there a case as our questioner puts it for considering raising the age at which you can drink alcohol.

BORIS JOHNSON
I think that would be profoundly un British myself. (LAUGH) It is certainly not a solution that I, I do think it was wonderful to see the tens of thousands of ululating young people who turned out to cheer the alcohol ban

DIMBLEBY
I am moving on, I am moving on to…..(Boris Johnson talking over) to Lisa Jardine

LISA JARDINE
I have spent a number of periods in North American universities and actually three of my sisters and their families live in North America and one of the things that is very noticeable on university campuses is the concealed drinking and the I mean frankly students don’t seem to get any less drunk they just did it by buying huge kegs of beer, taking them back to their rooms and getting absolutely falling down drunk and then roaming round the campus just like our students do. They just got drunk in private instead of in public so I actually don’t have any sympathy the raising of the drinking age. I think it doesn’t work at all in North America you know I also think that we have just got to recognise that young people get mature earlier and earlier and it is nothing short of ridiculous to start extending I mean you have got to educate people to drink safely, God knows how you do that and you know you all do drink ever so much more than my students did 10 years ago. I do not, I would like somebody to tell me why that has happened, maybe you are just more prosperous. Ha ha. But I don’t think raising the drinking age will do it and I think it is much more dangerous to have drinking in secret.

DIMBLEBY
And would you just on the other thing. Liam Donaldson Chief Medical Officer which has been kicked into touch very clearly by the government, would you actually favour increasing the price of booze.

LISA JARDINE
I just don’t think you can manage behaviour through cost. (APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
Minister

TONY McNULTY
I think Liam Donaldson is right to identify the issue of alcohol as a problem in society it is certainly around health and certainly around crime but I don’t believe that false minimum prices or to go back to the question of raising the age will deal with it. This is about each individual’s behaviour and responsibilities. We can tackle it by looking at these horizontal drinking establishment s and drink all you can for £1 and happy hours I think we should and are trying to take those elements out of the equation but I don’t accept that we should somehow punish the moderate drinker, the responsible drinker just because of the actions of irresponsible drinkers. We should focus much more on individual’s behaviour and experience.

DIMBLEBY
Shata Chakrabati is that description of American students all getting absolutely paralytic in the privacy of their rooms from the age of 16 onwards that Lisa points to is that right in your experience or not

SHATA CHAKRABATI
It is unfortunately accurate. It is also why under graduates come here in hordes to do it in public (APPLAUSE)

BORIS JOHNSON
All the more reason to keep them coming

DIMBLEBY
Final word on this to Michael Nazir-Ali.

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
I think there is a huge problem I mean if you look at the Metropolitan Police’s figures they are frightening. I mean 44% of young people between 16 and 24 are classified binge drinkers now you know what does that mean. A very high percentage of young people involved in crime and violent crime have done so because they have either drunk alcohol or taken some kind of drugs. This is a huge problem. I would say that the solution has to do first of all with teaching people how to drink responsibly. On the continent this happens people know how to drink from an early age it is not an age point but they don’t binge drink so that is one thing the other is the availability of drink I mean all the police forces I have talked to have said their problems have increased since the government allowed all hours drinking and then there is public drinking. I am very glad Boris has done something about it in London but I think price is an aspect of this there used to be something called the retail price mechanism at one time which kept the price of alcohol at a particular level that was abolished by the government and that means that if the supermarkets now who are the leaders in this can cut prices in a way that no one else can it drives the small traders out of business and it gives the supermarkets monopoly over alcohol as well as everything else.

BORIS JOHNSON
That is very good sense. There is also I am afraid flagrant abuse by too many supermarkets who are allowing under age kids to buy alcohol and what you could do is have a much more Draconian regime of the council taking away their Licences that would really put the wind up them (LAUGH)

DIMBLEBY
On the question of...

TONY McNULTY
… and on occasions the alcohol retail part of supermarkets have been shut down for some time as a punishment.

DIMBLEBY
What about the vicious observation Minister to the effect that it is the all late hours drinking that is the problem or many more hours’ availability of drinking

TONY McNULTY
Well the evidence simply doesn’t support that in terms of 24 hour drinking I think that less than 1% Licences are 24 hour drinking.

(Talking at once)

TONY McNULTY
No I do take the point

LISA JARDINE
I just don’t want to end on this sort of pious note about it. I mean the fact is

TONY McNULTY
I am quite happy about it

(LAUGH)

LISA JARDINE
Sorry Bishop Michael, sorry Bishop Michael. But you know in every area of our life and public life drink is used to show opulence to show affluence to show everything that is good and then to tell the young that they shouldn’t drink so much seems to me to be hypocritical.

TONY McNULTY
But I do take the point that there has been shifts in patterns of bad behaviour in town centres around particular times land funnily enough it has shifted early in the evening and then later from all the evidence but it is not just as simple as licence act changed therefore more binge drinking. It certainly isn’t that causal

DIMBLEBY
Thank you a reminder of the Any Answers number again. It is 03700 100 444 and the email address any.answers@bbc.co.uk. Our next please

RALPH ISAACS
Would the panel be happy for their houses to appear on Google’s street view?

DIMBLEBY
I haven’t asked you yet Professor but as you are a Professor I will. Would you be happy?

LISA JARDINE
Well I have downloaded it on to my phone and when I came here I found the restaurant but I can’t get my house because I live well I can’t tell you where I live because the whole public will come and (LAUGH) but the street that I live on is London cross street and I discovered to my annoyance at my desk this afternoon when I should have been doing something else that the camera went past and it didn’t go down my street and I couldn’t see my front door and I was mortified.;

DIMBLEBY
You are going to complain

LISA JARDINE
No I am not and I think that the papers this evening which have gone made about invasions of privacy don’t understand that Google are absolutely rubbing their hands because the beta testing of Google’s street view has been done very successfully by all that publicity so that everybody is saying they want the picture removed of themselves vomiting on the corner of their street and that is avoiding Google to have to go through all film in order to take them out themselves.

DIMBLEBY
Bishop your Palace

MICHAEL NAZIR-ALI
Well I live in the glare of publicity. |Yes you should live in my Palace. Especially in the winter but our address is on sat nav let alone Google so if you put in Bishop’s Court in it tells you how to get there.

DIMBLEBY
Tony McNulty

TONY McNULTY
I think there is a real point around privacy and indeed security in terms of some of the satellite street view websites. I am not sure how you tackle them because I do understand the pride some people have if theirs is on but there are some real concerns not least around London is so vibrant but it is also so packed and There are all sorts of things going on on a whole range of occasion not only a million miles away from some of the streets that feature on street view so I would have some concern about security and privacy

DIMBLEBY
And Mayor

BORIS JOHNSON
Well I have to say I agree with Tony it is just another invention and if you want to look at people’s house and anybody can look at my house you jut have to cycle past it or walk past it. You know there it is. All Google is doing is providing a way of doing this over the internet. I read in an editorial in a newspaper this morning saying it was a dangerous gizmo well frankly they would have said that about electric light or the airplane this is just another invention and I think we have got to get used to it.

(APPLAUSE)

DIMBLEBY
At which point unhappily we come to the end of this week’s programme. Next week we are going to be in Carlisle in Cumbria. On the panel there will be Sir Menzies Campbell and Theresa Villiers for the Conservatives, and there will be a couple of others as well I don’t know who they are yet. But from here at Kings College and the centenary of Kings College students union we have to say Goodbye.
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