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TX:               11/09/09 2000-2050


PANELLISTS: Bill Rammell MP – Minister of State for the Armed Forces
            Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones – Shadow Minister for
            Universities & Skills
            Sir David King – Director of the Smith School of Enterprise &
            the Environment
            Mehdi Hasan – Senior Editor for politics at the New Statesman

FROM:             St Paul’s Catholic College, Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey

Welcome to Sunbury-on Thames which is well known to some for its location at the
start of the M3 – it’s to the South West of London – but better known to literary folk
for its inclusion in Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat. We are at St Paul’s
Catholic College, a mixed Roman Catholic comprehensive with eleven hundred
pupils. A specialist technology college and international school, it has partners in Italy
and Tanzania. Its motto is “Learn to serve”. Serving on our panel Bill Rammell is
frequently in the firing line as Armed Forces Minister, most notably over Afghanistan
where against a rising tide of public concern he insists, and I quote “Our troops are
there to keep our country safe from the threat of terrorism”. Mr Rammell’s been in
parliament since nineteen ninety seven by a popular margin at the last election of, I
hesitate to say, how many votes?

Ninety seven large votes.

Ninety seven very large votes. Poor man. I say it every times he comes on the
programme I think, I recollect. Pauline Neville-Jones does not need to worry about
votes on her own account. As a member of the House of Lords she doubles as Shadow
Security Minister and national security advisor to David Cameron. Professor David
King began his public life as a South African political activist campaigning against
apartheid. This attracted the attention of police and he left for the United Kingdom
where, with a doctorate in chemistry he soon attracted the attention of leading
universities. Professor by the age of thirty four he went on to become Head of
Chemistry at Cambridge University. As Chief Scientific Advisor to the government
from 2000 to 2007 he was a major voice in the international debate over climate
change, memorably saying that it posed a greater threat to humanity than international
terrorism. He’s now Director of the Smith School for Enterprise and Environment at
Oxford. Mehdi Hasan’s a graduate of Oxford University, and for the last nine years
since coming down he’s worked in television at the political front line notably at ITV,
the BBC, Sky and latterly as Editor of News and Current Affairs at Channel Four. He
moved on from there recently to become Senior Politics Editor at the New Statesman,
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where he writes a dissident voice blog on its web site. Dissident against the New

No. Against everyone else Jonathan.

Oh right. Okay. He is the fourth member of our panel. [APPLAUSE] Our first
question please.

Peter Collins. Should we have to seek the government’s permission to take our
friends’ children to a football match?

This is the cont.., controversy over the vetting and barring scheme which very soon
comes into force which would make it a criminal offence if you work frequently or
intensively with children, intensely with children, which would make you subject to a
fine of some five thousand pounds. Pauline Neville-Jones?

I think it’s grotesque overkill. We all have to take the safety of children extremely
seriously and I don’t dispute that. And I think the Soham murders showed that
registration is necessary for those who actually have employment with children and
who work with children on a, on a paid basis and continuing basis. And the problem
was of course in that case was that actually the process and the process of, of police
information which should have been transferred didn’t work. But do we really want to
go down the road as a society of encouraging the notion that people who do voluntary
things and who take other friends’ children to football matches on a voluntary basis
are somehow so untrustworthy that they have to be checked out? There seems to be a
definition of what constitutes frequently and intensively. There’s going to be a lot of
argument if we go down this road about whether you’re doing it frequently, frequently
and intensively. But I think that we’ve hitherto been able to operate as a normal
society with a certain amount of trust between us. And I think if we go on down the
road now of constantly having databases and paying for a licence to do this and a
license to do that we lose two things. We lose initiative, we lose the volunteering
spirit and we turn our relationships with.. with each other into something which
actually has an element of fear in it. And I think it’s very, very bad for cohesion and
trust in society. And I don’t think it’s necessary. [APPLAUSE]

Mehdi Hasan?

Judging by that applause I think I’m going to be in a minority here tonight. I have to
disagree with Pauline. I do understand the issue over disproportion and there is a great
fear that I think eleven million people may be caught by this and I’m not a great fan of
databases, especially when run by the government, especially IT projects that are run
by the government. But in response to your question sir, I would have to say no and
no. My understanding is you don’t have to ask the government’s permission to take
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your friend’s child to football. A, it’s for those who are regularly in contact with
children on a regular basis, not just taking your neighbour’s kid one night to a football
match. It’s people who are in constant or regular touch with children. And secondly
you’re not asking the government for permission. It’s a Criminal Records Bureau
check under the vetting and barring procedures. And let’s not forget where this p...,
where this recommendation has come from. It’s come from the Bichard Enquiry into
the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman that rightly repulsed and shocked this
nation. Ian Huntley was the caretaker in a school, not dissimilar to this one, where his
background was not properly known or passed on by various authorities.

But wasn’t this ..


.. in this case Pauline Jone, Neville-Jones was making the point this was because the
police inefficiency.



But that’s ..

And he was in paid employment in relation to children which is a quite different
matter from ..

Well that ..

.. being suggested now.

I’m not sure how paid employment makes a difference within regard to your children.
I mean I unfortunately I have to echo Martin Narey of Barnado’s who said today that
if this perhaps disproportionate measure saves even one child’s life then it will have
been worth it no matter how many people complain about it.

Professor King?

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I’m going to start by saying that I’m rather closer to Mehdi on this. I, I don’t think the
presumptuous is that we’re somewhat untrustworthy when a measure of this kind is
introduced. And I just remind people of what happens when you are travelling by
plane and that you have to be vetted to see if you’re carrying anything that might be a
danger to the passengers on that plane. I remember the days before this happened and
it was a big shock when, when we all had to be checked as we went onto planes. It
was after the hijacking that this direct new measure was introduced. We take it for
granted now. And I frankly am delighted that we do it because I feel that’s ...

What’s the parallel? What’s, what’s the parallel ..

The parallel ..

.. with choosing to go on a plane as an individual and making sure that you can’t blow
the plane up on the one hand and being a volunteer with a club taking other children
on a regular basis, once, twice a week to play football?

Well the question isn’t the parallel to whether is, you’re a volunteer or a traveller.
The, the comparison I’m making is a response to managing a risk. How do we
manage risks to people on aircrafts we have seen. Now what we have is the question
of the safety of our children in a normal way of life. Is this a disproportionate
response? And here I suddenly end up swinging across to the other side. Because I
think for different reasons this response quite possibly is disproportionate. In other
words yes we do often respond to a situation such as this one by overreacting and
introducing a measure that goes way beyond proportionality. And I, I can come back
on that. But there are many examples of regulations being introduced in response to
an incident which then stay on the books for years and years despite the fact that
they’re not serving a purpose.

Is this a kind of latter-day Dangerous Dogs Act in effect which is the sort of point that
you’re making minister?

I don’t think it is. And to answer the question directly this will not apply to people
who are taking friends’ children to an event or to school. I can understand how people
might have reached that conclusion from reading the Daily Mail newspaper this
morning. But if you look at the facts of what’s being proposed that’s not what it’s

Can – well just, just on that, is it the case or is it not the case that if you, each week or
twice a week, frequently, and you are closely involved driving a car with your
children and with say two or three other children regularly to an event at which those
children are going, will you be subjected if you’re doing that, whether you’re doing it
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voluntarily – obviously if professionally employed, you have to do it in any case, the
organisation ... if you’re doing it voluntarily will you be subjected to this test?

My clear understanding is that if it is a personal arrangement with friends, with
neighbours ..

With the club, with the club.

Well hold on. Let me go onto that Jonathan. With friends, with neighbours, it’s an
agreement between those two families, then that will not, the barring and vetting
scheme will not apply. If it is a voluntary activity with a voluntary organisation I think
parents would expect that organisation to have carried out some checks. And that’s
what this is about. Now look ..

Can’t they – forgive me. You’ve got the Criminal Records Bureau checks already
there that they can utilise if they wish to and most do.


So what’s, what does this do ...?

But this is about actually extending that to ensure that that happens in all
circumstances with a voluntary organisation. Look Jonathan, I was the Minister for
Further and Higher Education when this crisis was at its peak back in 2005, 2006.
And at the time there was an enormous clamour for the government to do more to
protect children. And I have to say Pauline, at the time, the Conservative Party were
urging us to take tougher action. They weren’t urging us to sit back and do nothing
about this. It is about balance. We live in a society where all sorts of horrors happen.
And whenever that does happen the clamour is “Why didn’t you stop it? Why
couldn’t you do something about it?” Now in government we have to resist the knee
jerk response. And that’s what we did. That’s why we set up the Bichard Enquiry. We
asked for independent recommendations that we could consider. We have considered
them at length and I do think this is a proportionate response.

Pauline Neville-Jones?

This is all about proportionality. And I regard Soham and the whole case of a school
caretaker as being quite, quite different from what we’re talking about. I have to say
to you Bill that Lady Morgan, your spokesman on the radio this morning, very much
gave the impression that actually the case that has been cited by our, by our moderator
would indeed be caught. She hung it on the question of how often you did it and the
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degree of intensiveness. And indeed she started to in effect say there were definitions
of these things to which you would, you’d be tested against. So I simply don’t think
it’s the case. And it’s just the problem, this kind of proposal, it’s going to lead to the
most terrible muddle about whether you actually are, do have to undergo this test or

Mehdi Hasan?

Just on a, on a side point, coming back to what Bill said earlier, what I find most
offensive about today’s debate in reaction to this is that it has been the Daily Mail, the
Daily Telegraph, a lot of newspapers whipping up a storm when these are the same
newspapers that fearmonger every day and every week about the risk of paedophiles
on our streets. And then when action is taken they then fearmonger about a big
brother state.

Let me go ..

It’s quite ..

Let me go back to Peter Collins who put the question. [APPLAUSE]

Yeah I mean I think it is a, it’s a very difficult issue. But one, one point the panel
hasn’t brought up is that the great, amid the, the greatest number of abuse of children
actually sadly takes place in, in children’s homes, the homes of those children, either
by .. [APPLAUSE] ..

Which is ..

.. either by members of the, their family or by friends. And I fear that the government
is putting its resources into an area where is the lowest risk. And I’d be more
interested in them trying to think what could be done to reduce the abuse that, that
children have to suffer in their own homes.

You’ve heard the debate here in this, in this hall. Who in general favours the vetting
and barring scheme as it’s been discussed? Who thinks it’s a good idea in principle?
Would you put your hands up? Who does not like it? Would you put your hands up?
Well in this audience at this school there is an overwhelming opposition to it with
about three or four hands, five hands maybe only going up in favour. If you wish to
add your voice to the discussion the number to ring after the Saturday broadcast of
this programme is 03700 100444 and the eel, email address
Just a quick thing on this Pauline Neville-Jones. I know you’re not directly
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responsible. But if it is going to come into force you and others in your party have
spoken vociferously against it. Does that mean it would be withdrawn by a new
Conservative government in your view?

It’s just the kind of measure that we would look at very hard for withdrawal. Yes.

Okay. Thank you. We’ll go to our next.

Ellen Mapperley. Do you agree that it was right for British soldiers to risk their lives
to save the New York Times reporter in Afghanistan when the reporter went to the
country aware of the risks?

One soldier, British solider of course lost his life in the, in the process. Minister?

I pay tribute to, as I do regularly, to what our servicemen do on your behalf. And
tragically one of our soldiers in this mission lost his life. We felt, and there was advice
that came forward, that this was the best way to secure the release of that journalist
and indeed his Afghan colleague. There was a real risk that he would be handed over
to terrorists. And in those circumstances we took the dec.. decision that we did. One
of the things that I do regret is – and I’m delighted that the journalist has, that his
release has been secured – but we constantly give advice about embedding journalists
within our military forces so they can see what is going on, they can effectively report
but they don’t put themselves at risk. There was consistent advice to this individual
not to go into the areas and to remove himself from the areas that he went to. And he
didn’t take that advice. Nevertheless I welcome the fact that we have secured his
release. And it’s the absolute heroism and dedication and professionalism of our
armed forces that enabled that to happen.

When you say “We made the decision” it’s been mooted, was that a decision made
personally by the Prime Minister?

I believe the Prime Minister was aware but it was taken by the Foreign Secretary and
the Defence Secretary on advice from the services.

Sir David? Professor?

I think the, the outcome, a number of people were killed, one of them a British
serviceman is, is awful. And at the same time we’re potentially guilty of being wise
after the event. Because if we’d gone in and saved these people without a single
casualty, which must have been the intention, then we would I suspect hear a big
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round of applause for the decision that was taken. So whenever a decision of this kind
is taken it’s extraordinarily difficult and one makes the decision on the basis of advice
from the front. I therefore think that I would support the action taken and I regret the
outcome. It was extremely unfortunate outcome. I’m not going to go into the question
of whether the reporter should have been there or not.

Well I’d like you to go into the question because it’s implicit in the question ..


.. when the reporter went to the country aware of the, of the risks. I mean there has
been much debate about whether or not that was taking a proper risk to secure the
truth or a story on the one hand or on the other hand behaving irresponsibly.

I think if a reporter goes to the front against the advice of the authorities, that reporter
is putting not only himself at risk but a large number of other people and it’s therefore
extraordinarily unwise to do that. At the same time I’m saying I don’t really want to
comment on that. I’m saying that is the given in the situation where the decision was
made to go in and attempt a rescue.

Mehdi Hasan?

I’m a British national like Steven Farrell the New York Times reporter. And I would
like to think that wherever I am in the world, even if, if I’m in danger, if I’ve been
kidnapped, if something’s happened to me, I would like to think that the British
government would do everything in its power to come and help me, even if I’ve done
something through my own stupidity that’s put my life in danger. I don’t think
stupidity should be a death sentence in this world. I think the government was
dammed if it did, dammed if it didn’t. Had they left Steven Farrell and he’d been
handed over to Al Qaeda and he’d been beheaded on YouTube I think everyone
would have been clamouring and saying what on earth was Gordon Brown doing.
Three hostages have died in Iraq and the, British hostages in recent years, and the
British Prime Minister has been attacked for not saving them. So there’s a great
problem about how we save and who we save. And there’s a debate about whether
military action was the right way forward. Some NGOs have said that actually
negotiations were going well. I don’t know who’s right on that. The minister might
have an extra view. What’s really offended me about this episode actually is the death
of Steven Farrell’s interpreter, his Afghan fixer who was killed in the operation. Sadly
his body was left behind and not brought back like the British solider who died. And
the NATO press release that was issued after the mission failed to even mention his
name or that he had died. And he had been there saving this reporter’s life throughout.
And that’s what really offended me about the incident. [APPLAUSE]

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I want to come back to you in a second Mehdi. And just on that, that small point, are
you distressed by NATO’s failure to announce that and also the failure of our troops
to bring that casualty out, that dead person out?

I’m not sure. And I’m not going to speak with absolute authority because I would
need to look at the circumstances. I’m not sure it was possible to bring the body out.
But certainly I think – and I will look into this – certainly the death of that individual
who was supporting his colleague should have been referred to within the press

Mehdi Hasan, let me come back to you as a journalist. In the – cos this comes up –
cos journalists take risks ..


.. in war. At the moment if you don’t go to the, to the front by yourself you are
embedded or you stay behind.


And people want to go to .. Is taking a risk, even if it entails putting others at risk
justifiable in order to get to the truth or not?

I think with a heavy heart that it is. Because we have to imagine a world where
journalists didn’t take those risks, where we didn’t get to the “truth” quote, unquote,
of what’s going on especially in distant foreign lands. We have to remember that this
year we’ve had two brutal wars in Gaza, the Israeli attack on Gaza and in Sri Lanka
where the governments have kept journalists out and we’ve not known what’s
happened there. We’ve not known the scale of the humanitarian suffering.

But you’re not putting the, or are you putting NATO in Afghanistan and the British
government’s attitude towards journalists on a par with what happened either ..

No, not at all. I’m saying that in both cases it’s a tricky terrain. Foreign wars are
getting much more difficult for civilians. And journalists are going to be caught in the
crossfire. I think journalists are dying in record rates. And I think if the British
military has to go and save them so be it. I mean people go on dodgy climbs on
mountains and get stuck up there and we send a coastguard and all sorts of resources
to get them. It doesn’t mean we stop mountain climbing.

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Pauline Neville-Jones?

Well I, we need, we need reporting from the front. And I support that function. I think
the journalists who engage in it have to very disciplined about taking risks which if
they take them are ones that they take themselves. There’s a line somewhere about
actually then bringing unnecessary risk to others. Now this journalist – and this hasn’t
been said so far – he’s had to be rescued once already. And he took with him an
interpreter that Mehdi’s referred to. And people like that are gold dust, absolute gold
dust. So there’s been a real loss, quite apart from the loss of life. You know there’s
been a loss of a huge asset to those who actually do this job. So that’s extremely
regrettable. And as we know a paratrooper has also lost his life. So I do actually think
– and I agree with what’s been said – about the need and the right, and I think it’s a
very difficult and invidious decision for ministers to have to take. I think it’s the one I
might well have taken and said yes, must go. Though there has been question mark –
and I don’t know the facts about whether there was a negotiation going on as well that
might have succeeded. But nevertheless you can’t be certain about that. So I think I
would have taken the same decision. I think the person who has to ask himself the
questions are the journalist. This journalist. And I actually do think that this journalist,
the New York Times ought to think very hard actually at the moment about keeping
him in the field. Having said all that we do need, we do need frank reporting from the
centre. But the journalists themselves have actually got to, to show a great deal of
responsibility in what they do, particularly if they’re going to rely on our troops
risking their lives to come and get them if they get into difficulty.

Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Our next question please?

Sue Vincent. Does the panel really believe the government is not to blame in any way
for the Phoenix Four walking away with millions and the employees walking away
with no jobs?

Mehdi Hasan?

I think there are some unanswered questions in the report that’s out today. A sixteen
million pound report. I always wonder when we see reports that cost six – what on
earth did they spend sixteen million pounds on to produce a report that leaves a lot of
questions unanswered about the government’s own role, about – I think the most
criticism that the report made was of the press operation and certain government spin
doctors briefing in an incorrect manner. I would however say it’s very easy to of
course in the current climate, when anything like this happens, to immediately look
for how we can blame Gordon Brown and the government. Let’s not forget the main
point and the main conclusion of this report and that is that the Phoenix, so called
Phoenix Four businessmen walked away with forty two million pounds and left six
thousand five hundred people without jobs. If we’re going to target our anger at
anyone let’s first target at them and then let’s wonder about what the public sector of
the government or the authorities should have done. For too long we’ve blamed
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governments and civil servants for problems that are caused and built and created in
the private sector like the whole banking crisis. [APPLAUSE]

Pauline Neville-Jones?

My short answer to your questions, I find it extraordinary, extraordinary that this
sixteen million pound report concentrates entirely on the activities of the so called
Phoenix Four. And I must say My God they trousered a lot of money. However,
however, you do have to ask yourself the question how they ever got in the position of
being able to do that trousering. And the person who introduced them actually you
know to this poss.. possibility actually was Mr Stephen Byers who was then the DTI
Secretary. And now what do we find? The now so called – what is he called? He’s not
called DTI Secretary but Lord Mandelson one of my colleagues in the House who is
now the Business Secretary, what is he now saying is “Oh I think these people are not
proper people. Not fit to be directors of companies and they ought to be debarred”.
Does that mean that the government played no role in this extraordinary episode of
having these people who managed actually to, to destroy what might conceivably
have been a business that could have been brought back into something.

So what responsibility do you think the government should bear for this if you believe
it’s extraordinary that they don’t? What should it be? What did the government not do
in your view which it should have done which would have ..

Well I think, I ..

.. prevented this happening conceivably?

I think they, I, there were other bidders of course and there were alchemy partners.
There were a lot of other bidders. They were also extremely keen to keep things going
until after the election before they did anything. That was another thing that
happened. And so there were, a little bit of bridging money went in, a so called bung.
But what they really should have done was sort of had a much better survey of the
potential partners and chosen an organisation that actually had credentials and might
have been able to do something with it.


Let’s look at what was actually happening. The government was actually attempting
to secure the survival of MG Rover. And I think that was absolutely the right thing to
do in the circumstances ..

Page 12 of 21


And it’s what we were trying to do. When, when as a government you try to do that
can you guarantee in all circumstances that you don’t get these kind of unbelievable
actions taking place, place on the part of businessmen? No you can’t. The point has
been made about the cost of the report. It actually is, involves two hundred thousand
documents. It was about Rover and thirty three associated companies and two
hundred witnesses had to be interviewed. That’s why it’s taken time. That’s why it
has cost money. And I do think there are very, very serious questions to be asked of
the five individuals. Forty million pounds taken out of the company at a time where it
was struggling for its survival I think is extraordinary. I think we’re right to be taking
legal advice to stop them acting as company directors in the future. Undoubtedly there
are lessons that need to be learnt. One other point if I can Jonathan. Often back bench
MPs don’t get a lot of profile and lot of publicity. The local member of parliament
Richard Burden has acted absolutely steadfastly throughout the whole of this process,
constantly badgering and campaigning on behalf of the workers who lost their jobs.
And I think he deserves some credit within this as well.

Given that but given that it was on your government’s watch, the BMW lent more
than four hundred million to the Phoenix Four free of interest. They put that into a
company. They then lent that money to MG Rover and charged interest on it which
helped them in terms of one of the panellists “trouser a lot of money” and that is not
illegal to do that. Should not the government ..

Unless ...

.. should not the government have been aware of what was going on and that they
were entitled to do this and to have a view about it?

Look if there are lessons that need to be learnt they certainly do need to be learnt but I
think ..

Is that a yes?

No, no it’s not. It’s not. Because look in these circumstances if you are crawling over
a company you get accused of not allowing them to operate. I think the other point
that needs to be made and you know ..

Not by the workers in this case you wouldn’t be accused ..

Well hold on ..
Page 13 of 21

.. of not allowing to operate would you?

Hold on. Mehdi’s made the point that some people are focusing this back on the
government. This was an independent report, independent inspectors. And if you look
at the report and you look at its conclusions its overwhelming fire is at the directors of
those, of that, that company who in my view acted unbelievably irresponsibly and saw
people go down the road and lose their jobs.

Sir David?

I think my, my first point is to welcome the report. I think the shaming of these
individuals is critically important. But – and that you’ve made this point Jonathan –
this was not an illegal activity. There’s no regulation to stop this kind of profiteering,
and my view is that’s where the fault lies. What we have done is move over the past
twenty years in this country, in the United States in particular, into a system which
has created rampant consumerism based on debt which has driven us into a banking
crisis and what it’s all based on in my view is greed going beyond our ability.
[APPLAUSE] So I see this as a bigger, a symptom of a bigger weakness in our
culture which needs to be addressed and corrected. As we move forward through this
century in my view it’s critically important that we address this question. Our culture
has gone beyond dealing with well-being for the citizens into this sort of competitive
rampant consumerism ..


.. in which wealth is created simply to show high status, not well being and ..
[APPLAUSE] .. as with the banking community I would say the problem is with weak
regulation. This should not be allowed to happen. And I do hope that when Bill and
his colleagues look at this they will see that the lessons to be learnt are much broader
than simply the question of what happened at, at Rover.

Sue Vincent, back to you for your thought?

Well the fact that the report gives no blame to the government at all makes me a little
suspicious about how this independent panel were appointed and who appointed them.

We’ll have to leave that there with a reminder again of the Any Answers number. It’s
03700 100444. The email address And that’s after the
Saturday broadcast of course of this programme. Our next please?
Page 14 of 21

Geoff Saunders. David MacKay says that turning down the central heating thermostat
is the most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions. What do you do to seriously cut
your emissions?

Is that what do you do or what do you, what do you do to seriously cut your

Both. What do you do ..

Both. Both. Okay ..

.. to seriously cut your emissions.

So they can take both. Absolutely. David MacKay is a scientist, author of a very
successful book on this issue and about to become a senior advisor to the government.
But in the Department of Energy, not in your role. Who shall we start with? Sir David
King I think. What do you do?

Can I ..

Your chance.

.. answer this firstly a bit more broadly?

Yeah. Please do.

Because I think this question addresses given I’ve just been going on about rampant
consumerism, I think this question is directed at the biggest challenge our civilisation
has ever had to face up to. And I say that because it requires us the citizens of this
planet to act together. We need joint action to manage what we’re doing to the global
climate system. And if we’re going to manage this, yes – and David MacKay by the
way is a superb appointment. What Obama did in the United States was appoint Steve
Chew, a colleague of mine who is a supreme expert in the field. We have now put
David MacKay into DECC and we’ve done the same thing by doing that.

DECC being the Department of Energy?
Page 15 of 21

The Department of Energy and Climate Change. So I very much welcome his
appointment. But I don’t, I think when he was saying turning down the thermostat is
the simplest thing you can do, he was absolutely right. If you do what he and his
family do and turn it down by five degrees in the winter compared with what you did
before, so that means presumably you would be at fifteen degrees centigrade on your
thermostat and you dress warmly in the house, then inevitably you will save a large
amount of money and you will save a large amount of carbon dioxide emission. But
the, the bigger question behind your question is the one that we need to be addressing.
And David is very clear and I’ve been hopefully clear about this for some time. The
energy industry is the biggest in the world. The investment in new energy sources
runs to trillions of dollars over years, over five years. So what we now need is to see
that that investment is turned into low carbon energy sources at a rate that is
unprecedented in any other kind of change. My school at Oxford is aimed solely at
trying to find solutions to this problem and working with the private sector. So while
your question indicates rightly that we as citizens need to look at our own carbon
footprint it’s also critically important that we get governments to put the right
regulation in place and that we get the private sector to recognise that future
opportunities for them lie in low carbon developments.

Quick, quick response to two thoughts that come up again and again. One is that
although it is true that the clam.. the panel on climate change takes the, takes the view
that there is catastrophe around the corner this century unless, there are those
scientists and listeners to this programme, frequently come into Any Answers for
instance and say there are reputable scientists who say it’s exaggerated A, and B, even
if it isn’t exaggerated, because it’s a natural phenomenon there’s precious little that
we can do about it.

The scientific community as a whole for many years now has been united in
understanding the causes of the climate change that’s already occurred, point seven
degrees centigrade above the pre-industrial level and still climbing. And understand
what the root cause of that is. And the root cause is our reliance on fossil fuel and our
deforestation which, both of which has created an increase in the greenhouse gases in
our atmosphere. We know what to do and we now need to direct our attention at it.

And it’s doable?

And it is doable. It is doable. But we really need to focus on it. This is something that
requires every ounce of government’s effort to manage the problem. Initially when I
was in government the DTI thought this was a problem to send to the energy sector in
the DTI. It, it involves the way we use transport, it involves the way we live in
houses, it involves energy efficiency throughout the system. It involves virtually
every part of government.

Page 16 of 21

And just one final thing – I want to bring the others in but it’s very interesting to hear
from you. If you take the global issue, these worst case scenarios, do you have a vivid
picture in your mind of what happens if temperatures by the end of this century climb
by three, four, five degrees rather than what is being, you hope to hold it at two

The, the straightforward scientific answer to that is that the best projections forward
that the scientific community come up with indicate that countries like the Maldives
will come close to extinction because of rising sea levels. Eighty per cent of our
global cities are at coastlines that would be under threat of flooding by the end of the

And if we said in this country, well maybe there are problems there but, may get a bit
hotter here, we have a bit more of a Mediterranean climate. Species might change.

We know that the Thames Barrier has done a tremendous job in saving London from
flooding. As sea levels rise we get to the point where we can no longer tech..
technologically manage the defences of our great city. So London is exactly one of
those cities at risk because it suffers from the potential of fluvial flooding, the river,
plus rising sea levels and storms at sea creating flooding from the sea. It’s one of the
cities that’s very much at risk.

I’ve encouraged you to speak at length so if you’d be kind a bit more briefly than
you’ve just heard Bill Rammell?

I, I, I mean in terms of the seriousness of this issue I remember when David was Chief
Scientific Advisor and I went to a breakfast briefing that he held in London. And it
frankly terrified the life out of me. This is something that I’ve been committed to. But
when you actually look at the science you understand it. It is extraordinarily
dangerous. Now in terms of what you do personally as a politician who was recently
criticised for sweating during a TV interview I have no problem in turning the
thermostat down both out of personal conviction and because it helps the
environment. We all need to look at our personal actions. I think the Ten Ten
campaign that has been launched and government ministers are going to be supporting
that, looking at how we try during two thousand and ten to reduce our CO2 emissions
is important. But I think the final point is it is, I’ve always felt this is a hugely
challenging issue. It’s exceedingly important. But the way we explain and persuade is
critical. Because too many people are switched off by being seen as an attack on their
way of life and that you know you’re doing wrong. It’s about persuasion. It’s about all
of us thinking about the way we lead our lives and not castigating people but trying to
take them with us.

Page 17 of 21

In this hall there are people, we can hear aeroplanes going over here in and out of
Heathrow, rather low. We’re told that the carbon emissions from aeroplanes are going
to represent something like twenty per cent of the total carbon emissions from this
country. Third runway goes gleefully ahead?

Well look, this is about b... Hold on, this is about balance. And a third runway at
Heathrow has huge economic implications. If, if we, if we take action in isolation
those aeroplanes will simply go elsewhere. If we’re really to have an impact then we
need internationally coordinated action and that’s where the conference in
Copenhagen at the end of this year is so critical.

Pauline Neville-Jones?

Well as Bill Rammell just said it is a question of balance. And I must say we come
down the other side saying this is where we should draw the line and we should not
have the third runway. [APPLAUSE] I spend quite a lot of my time you know
thinking and worrying about terrorism. I don’t want to engage in a Dutch auction
with, with the professor next door to me about which is the greater threat. These are
both of them real hazards in our life, both the threat of terrorism but also the hazard
of, of climate change. And in the end they go to all sorts of things that we have to do
together. I absolutely agree with what’s been said about we all have to contribute.
You know it’s more jerseys but it’s a lot of other things as well. And one ..

So what on that front are you doing?


“We all have to”. What are you doing?

Yeah, well more jerseys.

Is that what you’re doing?

Oh yes.

Are you turning the temperature down this winter?

No. No. But ... absolutely. Yes. Yes. No.
Page 18 of 21


I mean you know actually start to economise, no doubt about it. And I also think
there’s something else which, which it will, it will percolate into every aspect of life.
David has rightly said you know that one of the things that’s happening is rising water
levels in this country whether it’s, whether it’s actually rivers or the sea. And that’s
going to lead us into having to spend quite a lot of money, we will have to do this, in
order actually to prevent severe flooding to strengthen a lot of the things that we
depend on in our daily life like our, like our communications and our, and our water
systems and our roads and everything else you know cos we have to make ourselves
more resilient. So we – and I don’t think even if we take a lot of measures which
actually slow down the process and actually don’t, and we prevent the worst we’re
nevertheless going to have to do quite a lot because this, the changes is already taking

Mehdi Hasan?

I don’t wear a lot of jerseys because I live in a new build house which is ridiculously
well insulated so I’m hot three hundred and sixty five days a year and never have to
use the heating. But having said that I do think all of these individual things – sadly,
I’m a pessimist – I don’t think individually we’re going to stop climate change
through our individual actions. We talked about flying. I take two long haul flights a
year. And I feel no guilt whatsoever in doing so because I go to Texas which is where
my wife is from. And when I get there I see three car families and everyone in Texas
has three cars and every car is a massive SUV. And I think to myself what on earth is
the point of me walking to my nearby newsagent and avoiding a drive when Texas
exists, when China exists, when South America has its deforestation. I’m sorry to be
the pessimist at this table but me wearing a few more jerseys is not going to stop what
I accept is the greatest challenge of our lifetime. [APPLAUSE]

David King.


David King.

Where do you start?

I’m just going to come back at Mehdi I think because I, first of all, I have been
spending an awful lot of time over the last eight years travelling around the world
talking about global action on this global issue.
Page 19 of 21

I hope you weren’t flying.

And I was flying. But the point I want to make is quite simply that by, through the
British government declaring before any other that it would reduce its emissions
firstly by sixty per cent by two thousand and fifty and secondly by eighty per cent by
two thousand and fifty it put me in a remarkably strong position as I was negotiating
my way round the world. Because I mean for example getting a commitment out of
Brazil which we did get at Poznan. I do claim some credit for this flying to Brazil and
talking there to the President. They announced at Poznan the British were saying they
will reduce their emissions by eighty per cent by two thousand and fifty. My response
to the British is we will stop all deforestation by two thousand and twenty five. Now
that was tremendous. And that’s the best way to get a global response.

I agree with that. At a government level not an individual level.

Okay we have to leave that there and go to our next please, just for the one more
reminder of this number – 03700 100444 is the Any Answers number. Please our

Gretel Turner. Scientists at the University of Exeter claim that reminiscing can
improve memory. What methods do the panel use to avoid senior moments?

Reminiscing can improve memory say the scientists at Exeter. What methods do the
panel use to avoid senior moments? There’s a built in assumption here that they have
senior moments. I don’t know where to start cos it sounds as if I’m driving to that
conclusion. Baroness Neville-Jones?

Right. Why did you choose me?

Precisely. That was my problem.

Keep going I think’s my answer cos it’s a real, it’s a real problem you know. And the
thing that, the thing – I don’t know what other people – I’ve never been good at
proper names you know. Remembering people’s names has always been the curse of
life. And I’ve been a diplomat you know. Imagine what a handicap that is. But
actually that’s the kind of thing that you find slips. So I, you know keep going. Keep
going. [APPLAUSE]

Page 20 of 21

My fiftieth birthday is in a couple of weeks’ time. Senior moments is something that
increasingly happens to me. I mean it’s interesting on names. I’ve always had a
problem with names and you develop a politician’s instinct to say “Hi, how you
doing?” and it gets you through it. But ..

Let me just ask our audience. Who in this audience doesn’t have a problem with
names? Would you put your hands up. Aah, I can see young, young, young, young
people putting their hands up. Who does have a problem with names? Put your hand
up. Yeah. No more need be said. Carry on Bill.

But, but I think the key – I mean there is a serious underlying point here. And the key
I think for all of us as we get older is to keep as active as possible, as engaged and as
interested as possible. And I think there is scientific evidence that that does actually
help you to live longer ..


.. and lead a more fulfilling life.

I think use it or lose it is a real thing.

Sir David?

I’m going to say that I’ve had senior moments all my life. And as this question was
being asked I was reminded of one of these senior moments when I was nineteen
years old and took my girlfriend home to introduce her to my parents and I forgot her

She’s not your wife David?

You may be a senior political editor but you don’t quite count as senior in
conventional terms Mehdi.

I can’t remember the question Jonathan ... I’m just joking. I, I used to have a very
good memory. It’s not as good as it was. I’ve been, like Pauline and Bill I’ve always
been very bad with names. I’m good with faces. I can remember anyone I’ve seen and
years ago. I can’t remember their names. What I do is – and I’m going to give it away
life on national radio. What I do when I meet someone and can’t remember their
Page 21 of 21

name, I give them my mobile phone and ask them “Oh what’s your number again?
Put your name and number into the phone for me”.

Very, very helpful. Thanks. Thanks very much. Well I can remember who’s in next
week’s panel because I’ve got a piece of paper in front of me. Margaret Beckett,
Andrew Mitchell, Julia Unwin who’s Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation and Saira Khan the broadcaster. Andrew Mitchell is the Shadow Secretary
of State for International Development. Margaret Beckett of course the former
Cabinet Minister. Join us when we’re going to be in Ashbourne in Derbyshire. To our
panel whose names I won’t repeat thank you very much for being here and to, for you
at St Paul’s Catholic College thanks very much and have a good evening.