Call Clegg 12th June

June 12, 2014 3:44 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Nick takes your questions live on LBC for this week's Call Clegg.

Watch the show here:

Transcript

This is LBC Call Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg takes your calls with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast. Call 0845 6060973 tweet at lbc973 text 84850. This is Call Clegg on LBC.

NC: Good morning. It's 9 o'clock, on Thursday 12 June that means it's time for Call Clegg with me Nick Clegg here on LBC. So I'm here for the next half an hour taking your questions on whatever like. So if you want to get in touch just call on 0345 6060973, it used to be 0845, 0345 6060973 or email at nickclegg@lbc.co.uk and of course you can also watch of course on the website, lbc.co.uk. So straight to the first caller and David in Ladbroke Grove, sorry I only need to chuckle because it wasn't David Cameron in Ladbroke Grove. Anyway, let's go...

NF: Well let's find out. Is that David Cameron from Ladbroke Grove?

NC: Hello David?

D: Yes. Good morning Nick. No it's not David Cameron.

NC: Not yeah, yeah.

NF: No.

NC: Got it yeah, yeah.

NF: Not yet.

D: Back in 2010 Nick you said in the Despatch Box in the House of Commons you thought the Iraq war was illegal in a confrontation with Jack Straw. You've also said you want the Chilcot Inquiry to come out. It's obvious we went to Iraq for business, for oil, construction, arms and for banking. Do you now think we should go back in and sort the mess out? And if so does that mean we'll go in to Syria as well because the 300 mile border is porous? And does that mean the start of a possible third world war in the Middle East?

NC: David no I don't think we should go back in to Iraq and as you know, yes, I've got very strong views myself as my party. It was the only part that stood against the headlong rush to war at the time. But the point you make about Syria I think is really very crucial here because the evidence suggest that Syria really has acted as a kind of incubator if you like for, ever larger more organised radical forces who are now of course sweeping across vast swathes of Iraq. It's a very, very dangerous situation. I think it just underlines the fact how unstable the region is. But crucially how very destructive in terms of the knock on effect never mind all the horrific humanitarian consequences in Syria itself how very destructive the knock on effects are of this bloody civil war in Syria because it's a having a direct knock on effect on what's going on in Iraq right now.

D: Yeah. But Isis comes from Iraq after we bombed the place and went in there and Fallujah which is the Suni part they've just spread north into Syria. It's the other way round. They come from Iraq, this is the Iraqi state of Al-Sham and Syria and they've gone upwards in to Iraq, into Syria rather. And they have, now have somewhere the size of Great Britain. So should we... we're surely, surely we'll eventually have to go back in to sort the mess out that we went in there which you said as illegal. Do you still agree it was illegal to go in there?

NC: My personal view is that the legality of the invasion of Iraq was always on very, very shaky ground. It's my personal view it always has been.

NF: Does that mean it is illegal Mr Clegg?

NC: I'm not a lawyer but...

NF: That's an odd expression, the legality is on shaky grounds. I'm going to take as meaning that it's illegal.

NC: I personally do not think....

NF: You think it is illegal?

NC: I personally do not think the legality of it was ever approved.

NF: You think it is illegal.

NC: And I certainly think it was... Well that's my personal view.

NF: Yeah. Illegal.

NC: It's not the government's view, it's not.

NF: Right. No, no. Sure. Sure. Just for a clarification that's all.

NC: That's my personal view.

NF: Yeah.

NC: But more than that, frankly much more important than the debate between lawyers, I think and my party was alone in thinking at the time as the Conservatives and Labour parties both argued for the invasion of Iraq, that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq in the first place. But all the point I was simply making to David was that this porous border is it puts it, David, between Syria and Iraq is really becoming the absolute Fulcrum for ever more organised violent forces usurping the government of Iraq and occupying as you say, very large parts of that part of the world. It is an incredibly serious situation but at the end of the day the only way that this is going to start turning around is if the violence subsides in Syria and politics can start taking root where violence at the moment is raging.

NF: When you talk about politics Deputy Prime Minister I am sure you are aware Washington is waiting for Congress to approve 600 million pounds worth of arms sale. That will include 200 Humvees, leasing 6 Apache Attack Helicopters, 300 Hellfire Missiles, thousands of machine guns, grenades, flares... I don't need to go on. What's Britain's response?

NC: No we are... we provide help to the Iraqi government we provide training and provide equipment and so on.

NF: But will that be stepped now as Washington is seeking to do?

NC: I've no idea what the Iraqi government will be asking of others in terms of the material support they need or the training they need. But David's question which was a perfectly understandable one which was: if in one way or another the invasion of Iraq in the first place has contributed to the instability in Iraq and more widely, should we now be going back in to try and sort it. I don't think having made one mistake you repeat it by making a second one but that doesn't mean that I have a perfectly packaged solution for this other than the fact that there is now very widespread instability, very widespread violent radicalism in large parts of the Middle East and elsewhere and we have to first, we have to obviously do battle with the ideologies that are driving this because these are very pernicious aggressive ideologies which need to be defeated. We need to stand up for the values of democracy of politics over violence, of equality before the law but also we have to work with other countries and none of this can be done on our own. The one lesson I think we must have learnt over and over again over the last several years is: in the modern world, even great superpowers like America can't go round unilaterally fixing stuff. You have to work together and that's why I think the role of the United Nations and other multilateral organisations to bring various parts of the world together is the only way you can respond internationally.

NF: And just lastly on this. If the Iraqis were to ask of the British government for helicopters or tanks or whatever it might be would you view it favourably?

NC: Well we would look... There are very, very strict guidelines basically governing how we respond to those kind of requests and we'll...

NF: Okay.

NC: They would then be treated in the normal way.

NF: Let's move on.

NC: Richard in Camberley. Hello Richard.

R: Hello Nick. Good morning to you.

NC: Hello.

R: Hi. The taxi demonstration yesterday?

NC: Yeah.

R: A lot of confusion of why people... a lot of people are ringing saying it's all about Uber but we all know as taxi trade it was all about TFL and their lack of enforcement. Who do you think in fact...

NC: You're a taxi... you're a cab driver?

R: I am a London taxi driver yes.

NC: And you were on... and were you out yesterday?

R: I was at a demonstration. I was outside the Houses of Parliament. I made sure I had a good view of the building.

NC: Yeah.

R: But do you think that TFL are actually accountable for this demonstration? Because if they had have actually done their job properly in the beginning this would never have happened. TFL since they've taken over control of the taxis it is an absolute mess from the time of the PCO, the Public Carriage Office at Penton Street where we were last...

NF: Just to explain to my listeners. Sorry, this is Richard. What you're saying they're a mess because they allowed this company to come in and effectively you would argue that they are using taxi meters. Which is a breach of contract and TFL should have been all over that before they ever even started just so my listeners up to speed.

R: Yes.

NF: Right okay. Stay on the line. I'm not cutting you off. Let's get Mr Clegg involved.

NC: Richard I mean I obviously am not as close to the details of what TFL did or didn't do about the use of this software, this Uber software. If I understand it correctly it's now in the High Court isn't it?

NF: It's off to the High Court and we're waiting...

NC: It's off to the High Court.

NF: TFL have referred it there.

NC: Yeah.

NF: Because there's questions over how they handled it.

NC: So in a sense that will come out in the wash I guess Richard. I have to say to you where you and I will disagree is I just don't think however strongly you might feel about TFL's conduct, I just don't think the going on strike yesterday and snarling the day for a lot of Londoners was the right thing for London tax drivers to do. You won't like me saying that, but I really don't think it was right. But on the other hand, I totally get that you've got these long established arrangements about how the tariffs are calculated. You want to make sure that everyone works on a level playing field and you clearly feel strongly that TFL didn't respond quickly enough. But I just don't think that however strongly you feel about that doing what you did yesterday was the right thing to do.

NF: Richard.

R: But TFL had the opportunity to deal with this many, many occasions because a lot of the taxi bodies have contacted them. Even the Chairman Steve Wright of the Hire Association, even he wrote to the Transport for London saying that...

NF: Richard, I have to intervene. You remember what the Mayor told us yesterday Richard, you can't stand in the way, you can't undo new technology. Now it's got to be proven whether it's legal or not of course and that's why the court. But you can't stand in the way of technology...

R: We have new technology.

NF: ...necessarily Richard.

R: No we have technology we have technology ourselves. We have apps on our phones for taxis. This is not about undoing technology. We have to go forward otherwise we're never going to go forward. We'll end up, go stagnated. But what's happening is, is the law is there, it is written in black and white and they are failing to uphold that. And what they're doing is they're passing it over to a High Court Judge because they don't' want to be seen to be taking that away from a multi-billion pound company and being the cause of it. Now it's just...

NC: So Richard you think TFL should not have referred this to the High Court they should have taken matters into their own hands earlier. I hear you...

R: Yes it's in black and white. They should have done.

NC: Richard I get what you say. To be honest I'm genuinely not in a position to be able to adjudicate from claim and counterclaim. I can totally understand the strength of feeling given that as a London taxi driver you invest a huge amount of time and money in getting qualified in the first place. You've got very strict rules about how the fares are set. I totally understand the strength of feeling. I just didn't think yesterday snarling up much of Central London was the right way of doing that. But clearly you've got a strongly argued case and I very much hope that if not by way of the High Court then directly from TFL there will be some clarity on this pretty soon.

NF: Good luck. Thank you for that. We move on. Deputy Prime Minister.

NC: Geoff, Geoff in Chingford.

G: Ah good morning Mr Clegg. I understand that the Mayor has purchased three water cannon on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

NC: No he wants with Nick Ferrari if I understand it correctly to be blasted by them as well.

G: It is reported however Theresa May has to give her permission that they can be used. My question is: one, when does she intend to make this decision. Two if the permission is granted will it be left to the police to decide when to use them or would the police be required to seek her permission on every occasion.

NC: I think on the process the Home Secretary said that she is still looking at some things before she fulfils if you like her statutory side of the arrangements but it is an operational decision of course for the police. I have to say to you my own personal view is because it is an operational decision so it's not for me to take. But my personal view is I do not think that second hand water cannons bought at great expense from Germany are the answer to policing the streets of London. If you just think back to the riots three years...

NF: Why not Mr Clegg?

NC: Well you just think back to the riots three years all of this comes from lots of understandable soul searching after the riots about what more powers or equipment do we need to give the police to deal with something like that. I am told, I've been told several times that water cannon have possibly some role if you're dealing with two... like some big crowds which you want to keep separate, big football crowds that can get out of control. The idea that in the riots where people are scurrying down small streets, smashing windows and the rushing off, small groups moving around in a very fluid situation. The idea that great big lumbering second hand German water cannon is going to somehow be wheeled and sort all that out I think is fanciful and I personally think it also, it kind of rubs against the long tradition of policing by consent on London's streets. I think it creates a kind of embattled sense of how the police work which I don't think is in keeping with our long, long policing traditions here. But the police, obviously they've got to make their own operation decisions, the Home Secretary needs to make her own decision and if I understand it correctly we're all going to watch you Boris Johnston be experimented upon by these new second hand German water cannon when they arrive.

NF: You're absolutely right.

NC: So that's at least one silver lining for people like me who don't think they should be here in the first place.

NF: Well I'm sure we could get another Sowester and if you would chose to join us we could...

NC: No. No, no. You're the great advocates of it so I think I'm looking forward [laughing- to the consumer test and then see how you and Boris feel about it.

NF: Let's bring Geoff in. Just on an operational matter just so you're absolutely sure Geoff. Once the Home Secretary has given assent which is not there yet it would be up to then to the command within the Metropolitan...

NC: Yes.

NF: ...police to deploy it. So just to clarify that Geoff, are you satisfied with what you hear and indeed the opposition that you're hearing from... You're not surprised maybe it's the Liberal Democrats.

G: Well not really.

NF: They're not going to be a fan of this.

G: Well not really. We're not just talking about the police, there are three emergency services that do constantly come under fire and I think it's a deterrent. Not just a... not to use them to be there. You're never gonna stop your main street anarchist who will go and actively destroy society. I'm talking about the people who come out and join in. If they suddenly think, oh my god, there's a water cannon, we're not gonna throw stones and bricks at the Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service, they I think will be deterred, it's a deterrent.

NC: Yeah, but Jeff look, all I say is for a deterrent to be effective it's got to be useable, and of course there must be some situations, otherwise these things, I guess, aren't deployed in other parts...of course, there must be some situations. And as I say, I can understand a situation where you've got two, let's say you've got two big crowds, you know, in quite an open area.

NF: Like the student demos of a couple of years ago, where they were throwing fire extinguishers at police officers...

NC: In London, which is a city with lots of small, narrow, you know, windy streets, it's not just big sort of avenues like Whitehall, actually a lot of the rioting took place in shopping centres, it took place in a very sporadic way. By the way, Jeff, in exactly the kind of situations where people who want to spread unrest, anarchy, can thrive...I just think we've got to be realistic. Getting out this lumbering, second hand German water cannons is not suddenly going to deter someone from throwing a brick in the window of their local shop. So all I'm saying is, as I say, the police need to make their own judgements, they appear to have done so in this case. The Home Secretary needs to do her work, Boris needs to be subjected to the test he's volunteered for, all of those things need to happen. I, however, just do not, I've just not been persuaded by any rational arguments saying this is the answer to the problems we saw three years ago. Because remember, this flowed all from the, quite understandable, analysis of what went right and what went wrong as far as policing was concerned at the time of the riots three years ago.

NF: Afterwards, can I borrow your onesie, when I'm absolutely soaked...

NC: No, no, you've made the commitment, you know!

NF: I'll honour my word.

NC: Well I'll sell you the tickets!

NF: I'm sure you shall. We move on, another caller.

NC: Fwana, in Chingford, hello Fwana.

F: Hello Deputy Prime Minister.

NC: Hello.

F: Good to speak to you.

NC: Good to speak to you.

F: My question is, we've been discussing what it means to be British, Britishness. But I know you're personally an atheist, wouldn't you agree that religion plays a major role in defining what Britishness is?

NF: Is this to do with British values, as Michael Gove asserts them, Fwana, is that what we're talking about in schools?

F: British values, what is British?

NF: Okay, let's get to it. Nick Clegg?

NC: Absolutely Fwana. Whatever one's religious views, whether one's, you know, whatever denomination people's religious faith comes from, or indeed, if you're someone of no faith, it's quite clear that Christianity has played an incredibly important role in the history of our nation, and shapes many of the habits, the outlooks, the views, the opinions, and values of Britain. And I don't think anyone, in a sense, should deny that, it would be a rather odd denial of our history and our traditions. But I think since this relates to the revelations of what's happened in the schools in Birmingham, and possibly in other places, I think the important thing to remember is that values are also enshrined in what we teach children every day of the week. I mean, when you teach children about the history of this country and the history of the world, of course values are revealed in that. When you teach children great literature, values infuse great literature, and that's why I've come to the view that what Michael Wilshaw has said about ensuring...

NF: Michael Wilshaw is the Chief Inspector.

NC: Yeah, he's the Ofsted Chief Inspector who published this report. He said, look let's make sure that all schools really do deliver and teach in the classroom a balanced curriculum, and something should happen. Because I think many people's curriculum is something should happen, because I think many people will be quite surprised to learn that, in the wake of this investigation, that there are a lot of schools, academies, free schools, for instance, who don't have to teach that core body of knowledge that other normal schools, or other schools, have to. And I think that's something that in many ways is probably as important, if not more important, than having 20 minutes or half an hour on British values. Valuable that may well be if we can get the details right.

NF: Quick response from Fwana.

F: The problem is that as we've diluted the importance of Christian teaching as a nation, what held those values together has been removed, so the values have now become subject to debate. I'm Black British myself, born in Surrey. But the problem is that as we've steered firmly away from Christianity and moved into multi-culturalism, and no one is saying that, you know, other people are not welcome in Britain, 'cause Britain has always been a tolerant country. We've ended up in a situation where other people are trying define us, and we now are actively asking what it means to be British. That should not be a question that we need to ask.

NC: Fwana, I mean you're actually raising an incredibly interesting issue, which probably needs a much longer discussion. But I don't so happen to share your assumption that there is something valueless about the tolerance that is at the heart of modern Britain, where you do tolerate, and respect, and are generous towards other people's views, other people's faiths, other people's traditions. What, however, I think is essential, is that the sort of hard edge to that tolerance, is saying democracy, equality before the law, tolerance of other people's views...these are things that everybody, regardless of your faith, regardless of your community, regardless of your background, these are all things, those are the basic rules of the game which we all must subscribe to in a civilised, free and tolerant society. So I don't accept that because, of course, the prevalence, if you like, the dominance of Christianity in people's daily lives, which used to be much greater in the past and less so now, as secularism has increased, and so on and so forth...I don't think that means we've moved towards a kind of valueless world. I actually think that diversity and tolerance are very important values themselves.

NF: Lets move to an email question if we may...Fwana, thank you for the call. Peter in Leicester...do you back the decision to hold the first ever secret trial in the UK?

NC: Well this is very important to remember, this is a decision about what is reported and what is not reported in a particular case. And I find according to the Court of Appeal so it's not...so the only reason I say is...

NF: Well the journalists won't be there Mr Clegg.

NC: Well as I said, the only reason I say this...and this is nothing to do with annoying that, you know these are powers that have been around for ages, this is nothing to do with anything that has been introduced by this government. The only reason I say that is that we need to draw a sharp distinction between that, and the previous controversy, which we've talked about on this show, which is about closed material proceedings. Which, in a sense...

NF: There will be no media at this, there will be no public gallery.

NC: Well let's see what the Court's decision is.

NF: But what's your feeling, is what...

NC: Well I, like everybody, want justice to be open, and there should only be very, very exceptional reasons why that is not the case. And that is what, that balance is what the rules seek to strike.

NF: So you wouldn't be in favour?

NC: As a general principle, I do not like to see justice, if you like, take place behind closed doors. Unless there are incredibly good reasons. And my experience of the Judiciary is that they would, on the whole, they're as interested as anybody else to make sure that justice is not only done, but is seen to be done. That's one of the absolute founding principles. And I'm assuming that they're only considering this for very, very exceptional reasons.

NF: Stephanie in Bristol...do you have any sympathy for the thousands of people waiting for their passports to be processed...

NC: Yeah!

NF: ...and has David Cameron misjudged the public mood on this?

NC: I don't think the Prime Minister has spoke out of turn, but I have a huge amount of sympathy for, you know, all those people...I mean, in one sense it's a great thing that many, many more people appear to be planning to go away on holiday than was the...maybe that's a sign of things, you know, people feeling they've got a bit of extra money in their pocket and feel that they can go on a summer holiday this year in a way they didn't last year. But of course I have a lot of sympathy...

NF: But the Prime Minister says it's normal, he says it's normal at this time of year. So either we have all got more money in our back pockets...

NC: Well sorry, it is normal that more people apply for passports. But what he said was very clear...what is not normal is that, I think it was 300,000...

NF: It was, yeah.

NC: An increase of 300,000 more applicants. So it is not normal that there is an increase in applications for passport renewals at this time of year. What is not normal is the number of people who are doing so, which has increased very, very sharply. So what has that...and so I have a lot of sympathy with people, who have sent in their passports and are now worried about, are they gonna get them back in time to be able to go on holiday. So what must happen, we must throw every single sort of measure that we can at this problem to make sure people's passports are returned quickly. And that's why they've got, they're now working seven days a week, they're delivering passports around the clock, 24 hours a day, they've put on a whole bunch of extra staff. Because of course this is an unprecedented challenge, and we do have to get on top of it.

NF: But that's the 300,000 additional we've got now.

NC: Yes, yeah.

NF: What we're not focusing on, I mean this has been going on for all of this year, there's been this crisis. So I know it's had a spike now, but it's not been performing, it's not fit for purpose, to use common parlance, all year. I hear what you say about the summer boom.

NC: I think the sharp...above normal spike in the summer boom, as you put it, that is something which has obviously really, really tested the system very, very hard. And as I say, they're working...

NF: Couldn't we have planned for it, couldn't you have seen it coming?

NC: Well that's the tricky thing, that's the kind of things we'll need to look at. I wonder whether it is that easy to predict an increase of 300,000 passport renewals coming in. It's way, way above anything that's happened over the last several years. And lets...

NF: The Union says 'cause you've let people go, of course.

NC: Yeah, the Unions will always say things like that. As I say, at the moment...

NF: Is it true?

NC: ...all I do know is, and I know the Home Office are absolutely focused on this, they're working seven days a week, they're delivering passports 24 hours a day. The vast, vast majority of passports are being returned in the time set out. They're taking on more staff. But it seems to me for those who are worried, and I totally understand that worry, what they want everyone to do now is just work day and night to get this sorted.

NF: But it is 600 fewer staff, apparently, in the Passport Office, since the Coalition Government started. And if you've got a time of economic, which you could, you're going to argue is of course down to the austerity measures that the Liberal Democrats have helped bring in, and the wise decisions that you've helped make, so people can now go on their holidays 'cause cash is coming back...and you've taken 600 people of the equation who are giving their passports.

NC: What is just undoubtedly true across the piece, which is whether it's in the police, whether it's in the Home Office, we've had to make savings. I don't want to have to rehearse, I hope, all the arguments for why we had to do that. Is the, you know, could we have predicted the increase of 300,000 passport applications above what is normally expected at this time of year...look, I'm not a specialist, that's exactly the kind of thing we need to look at. But not right now, let's right now sort this problem as best as we can. And I think the way to do that is, as I say, throwing more people at it, working 24 hours, for seven days a week, delivering these passports 24 hours a day. And then let's hope that the worry, which quite rightly people do feel, because they're planning their holidays, and holidays are a wonderful...I don't know, are you going to go on holiday? We're all looking forward to our holidays, I'm looking forward to my holiday.

NF: Of course you are.

NC: We all want to go on holiday.

NF: Have you got a passport at the moment?

NC: I have a passport.

NF: How fortunate. The children have got their passports, have they?

NC: Yes, I've checked.

NF: I bet you have checked, I bet everyone's checking! We move on, Mr Clegg.

NC: Right. Caroline, in Glasgow?

C: Hello there. I want to know when your party is going to do a proper and thorough investigation into benefit sanctions at the Jobcentre, when people are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. It's got to the point that every time you visit the Jobcentre, they're being threatened constantly for any little triviality. It's got to the point where people are forced into food banks and great poverty. And I want to know when you're going to do something about it.

NC: Caroline, do you either work in a Jobcentre...?

C: I'm claiming Jobseeker's Allowance at the moment, and it's been a constant...

NC: Have you been sanctioned?

C: Yes, I was sanctioned in April.

NC: For what?

C: I moved house in January because of the bedroom tax, and to improve my life and try and find a job. And then because I was under great stress with my son moving schools, and I had vermin in my house as well...I told them all about this, and they sanctioned me for it.

NC: They sanctioned you...sorry?

C: Because I missed a date, I missed a signing on date.

NC: You missed a signing on date?

C: Yeah I missed a signing on date, and I did make up for that. I then had to receive a phone call from them, I had to go and explain myself. I now have to put in a mandatory reconsideration, which they've told me, if this is unsuccessful I will have to take them to Court to try and claim back the money. I was sanctioned for £286, which was four weeks' benefit for missing one signing on date.

NC: You had four weeks' JSA docked for missing one signing on session?

C: Yes.

NC: Well, erm, as you know, I mean I'll have a look, Caroline, obviously, if you want, at the individual, your individual case. I can't obviously provide a commentary on it without knowing more.

NF: Well, broadly, the idea of these things...Caroline, stay on the line, we'll take your details.

C: Caroline has a point, bluntly. If the sanctions are applied in a totally indiscriminate way, which actually can make the situation worse...let's remember, JSA, as the name implies, Jobseeker's Allowance, is about trying to get people off benefits and into work as soon as possible. So quite understandably, and by the way, we're not the first government to do this, the previous government did it, lots of other governments around the world do it. Is you say, here's the support to get you back into work, but it's not a blank cheque, you know, you have to kind of show that you're trying to make an effort to get back into work, because this is support given to you by everybody else's taxes. So it's quite, quite right...I'm assuming, Caroline, you're not asking this...it's quite right that there are strings attached to JSA. Because it's not an unconditional benefit, it never was, it never should be, and I actually support that. And we have tightened up some of those sanctions. The point that Caroline makes is, how are those sanctions being applied in a way that leaves some discretion.

NF: Yes, and a bit draconian in her case, perhaps.

NC: Look, the people in Jobcentre Pluses which I visit, I think on the whole do an exceptionally good job, and they do have some discretion about exactly how to apply these sanctions. Without knowing your details, Caroline, without knowing the side of the story from the person who you work with at the Jobcentre, I can't obviously on air now, kind of declare one way or the other. But I totally accept your basic assertion, Caroline, is that we've got to constantly keep this under review. As it happens, the Department for Work and Pensions does, and I've talked to Iain Duncan Smith about this on a number of occasions, to make sure that sanctions have the desired effect. Which is not to hinder someone getting back into work, but actually to help someone, and to kind of help nudge someone back into work as soon as possible.

NF: Caroline, stay on the line and give some details to one of my colleagues and I'm sure, we will pass them over to the Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Clegg, another call...

NC: Kathleen in Upminster, hello Kathleen.

K: Oh yes, Mr Clegg.

NC: Hello.

K: Oxfam at the moment are running a campaign highlighting the effects of the austerity measures taken by this Coalition Government, on the poor. How do you feel about charities taking a sort of political stance on this, on your measures that have been undertaken by your government?

NF: This is the Perfect Storm campaign, Mr Clegg, talking about zero hours contracts, higher prices, unemployment, childcare costs, et cetera, for Oxfam.

NC: Well I mean, first I'll go into a bit of detail, but before that, I just really do think, for people, like myself, who on the whole are always kind of alongside, shoulder to shoulder with organisations like Oxfam, campaigning to highlight the suffering of people elsewhere in the world, using the generosity of the British people, the donations that people make to help other people elsewhere in the world. You know, there's a fundamental issue here, which is that there is nothing fair, there is nothing progressive, there is nothing liberal, there is nothing in line with Oxfam's values, to basically say, oh it's all too difficult, we'll basically get our kids and our grandkids to pay off this generation's debts. Because that's what underlines all of this. It's a sort of, it appears to be an advertisement for a blanket refusal to deal with a problem which you cannot duck. And if I can just spell this out in words of one syllable...if we do not reduce the debt burden on, which we're gonna sort of place on the shoulders of the next generation, they will spend billions and billions of pounds paying off the interest on our debts, which could be spent on schools and hospitals in the future. It is a...that is the big decision we've had to take. And I really cannot understand how some people whose values I actually share, of compassion, of seeing to make sure that we do help the most vulnerable, are so willing to sort of airbrush out of the equation that you've got to, because it's the fair thing to do, clear the debts for future generations. And that's what we're doing.

Then the question, Kathleen, which is where detail comes in, is how do you do that as fairly as possible. And I flatly reject this idea, for instance, that we haven't tried to do something about childcare costs. In fact, it is this government, and in fact, is my personal insistence, that we are providing 15 hours free pre-school support to two year old toddlers, from the 40 per cent of poorest families in this country. It is because of my insistence that we've now got over three million workers on low pay who won't be paying any Income Tax altogether, because we've raised the point at which you start paying Income Tax. Next year we'll be introducing tax free childcare for families up and down the country. So yes, there's some really difficult decisions to be made, yes there are people who are feeling huge pressure on their sort of daily, weekly budgets. But I really think, just simply saying, oh why do we have to do anything, can't we just wave a magic wand and it'll all be sorted, I just don't think that helps anyone, I really don't. And I don't actually think it helps the values that Oxfam is supposed to be campaigning for.

NF: Kathleen, a quick response from you.

K: Well I just, I listen gobsmacked actually. Because I just think we always hit down, we never hit up. Just keeping looking up at the people who are getting richer than ever in this country, and look at them first, and then try and claw back from them, and not hit the low.

NC: But Kathleen, do you...I mean, you may not believe it, but we are taxing the richest in this country far, far more than...

K: It's meaningless.

NC: No it's not...

K: It's measure that are coming in that are affecting...I see it even around where I live, and I'm not in an underprivileged place by any stretch of the imagination. But even around here, I see it hit. I see youngsters that can't get jobs, and they're having to take the most menial tasks, and do zero hours, et cetera. We've got to start hitting, we've got to go and look at the top first and then work our way down.

NC: Kathleen, I completely agree with you, you start at the top and work down, you don't start at the bottom and work up. And you're clearly not prepared to accept this...the facts are that we are taxing the richest much higher than any year, for instance, under the previous administration. That the richest are paying more, as a proportion of their taxes and so on, as they have done for a very, very long time. Look, I'll give you one very specific example. One of the first things we did, actually I think it was at my party's insistence, is that we stopped the nonsense in the past where a very rich, I don't know, hedge fund manager, for instance, was paying less on their, was paying less taxes on their shares than their cleaner was on their wages, by basically closing the gap between Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. That was an absolute nonsense...

NF: Percentage terms, so not...?

NC: Absolutely. I totally agree with you Kathleen, but the idea that we can go through the shock that we did back in 2008, which was not your fault, not this government's fault, no one else's fault. But of course, as we know, because of deep irresponsibility in particular in the banking sector, and a failure of previous governments to actually kind of balance the books. You have to deal with that somehow. And all I would urge you to do, is (a) look at the way we have tried to do it as fairly as possible, inequality as it happens is now lower than it's been for many, many years. And our employment has gone up over the last period more sharply than it has done for many, many years, despite all the predictions that unemployment would soar. It doesn't mean that life isn't very difficult for many people, but I really, really would urge you and others to not simply say, oh well there are entirely sort of blemish free, cost free ways of trying to clean up this mess.

NF: Alright, we must leave it there. My final question, just to lift the mood a little bit. Mr Clegg, you'll be aware that England's World Cup campaign kicks off this weekend, you've been very helpful with score lines in the past at major games.

NC: [Laughing]. I don't know if I've got that many right!

NF: No, well normally you get the winner right, the scores are a bit dubious, but you normally pick the winning team. England and Italy, what can we expect there?

NC: Oh I think we're gonna pull of a surprise, I think we really are. Italy, you know, have got a bit of a record of starting quite poorly in the early stages of the World Cup, so it's probably quite a good time to play them. So I...even in the heat, the tropical heat of Manau, whatever it is, I predict a 2-1 victory for England, how about that?

NF: That's fantastic. Have you had a sweep round the Cabinet table?

NC: No, but in my office sweep, I'm now apparently Chile.

NF: [Laughing]. I see.

NC: No, they're a bit of a, you know, some people say they might go further than people think.

NF: Well let's hope you're right.

NC: But England all the way.

NF: England all the way. Thank you, you heard it here first...9.35, our thanks to Nick Clegg, with Call Clegg here on LBC, where news is next.