We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Call Clegg 11th July

July 14, 2014 8:58 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg takes your questions every Thursday from 9am on live LBC.

Watch the latest episode here.


This is LBC Call Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg takes your calls with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast. Call 0345 6060973 tweet at lbc973 text 84850. This is Call Clegg on LBC.

NC: It's 9 o'clock, on Thursday, no Friday, sorry Friday 11 and that means it's time for Call Clegg with me Nick Clegg here on LBC. So do get in touch in the next half an hour if you want to get involved. Call on 0345 6060973 or email at nickclegg@lbc.co.uk and of course you can watch on the website, lbc.co.uk. So the first caller Ian, Ian in Harrow, hello Ian.

I: Morning Nick.

NC: Morning.

I: Just talking about the supposed privacy concerns about internet service providers keeping data records.

NC: Yeah.

I: So I've been in the industry for years and I consider that we've been keeping records for between six and twelve months anyway so that people can query bills which if you think about it if you go on line on your service provider you can look at your bills so they keep the data anyway.

NC: Yeah.

I: So isn't this far more about the EU sticking it's nose in where it isn't wanted and trying to tell us to do something done. And then government having to spend time and money legislating to under the damage that the EU is trying do something we've already done.

NF: This is EU ruling Deputy Prime Minister.

NC: Sure. Sure.

NF: Explain to listeners who need to catch up on this.

NC: Yeah, sure. So Ian as you know, but you're lucky in a sense that you understand the complexities of all of this. And lay people like me, I've had to get my head round it over the last several months so I'll try and explain as best I can. As you quite righty say, there is law or there was law rather and it flowed from an EU directive which basically said that telephone companies could keep data and the data by the way as you know the telephone number, when a call was made, to whom, to which other number the call was made. It's nothing to do with the content. It was the directive, the European law was all about how telephone companies keep that data for a certain period of time for business purposes. It's exactly right Ian and you're quite right it's one of the many, many misapprehensions about this. So the existing law is all about the business needs for telephone companies but of course that crated, that data store if you like which then also under appropriate proportionate powers and so on the police and the intelligence agencies can ask for some of that data where it's justified. Now as it happened the original European law said that every different European country could decide to set the time during which that data is stored from six months I think it was to twenty four months and the previous government, the previous labour government, decided to set it at twelve months in this country. And in other countries it's slightly different. What we didn't do or rather what the previous government did not do, unlike other EU member states was translate that directive into domestic primary legislation so it stands in British law. So for instance Denmark has done that. So then came along this court ruling three, a few weeks ago/three months ago which you're alluding to Ian and the court ruling for various reasons said that the directive was faulty and so whole thing had to be scraped. So it meant for countries like Denmark that was not a problem because they'd already done the homework of translating into domestic legislation. We hadn't so we had this void. So the telephone companies quite reasonably came to us and said we now have no legal basis in Britain because the directive has been struck down to retain this data never mind for security purposes but also for our own business purposes and that's why we need to take this action pretty quickly, very unusual, in order to maintain as I think you'll know Ian, to maintain something that's been going frankly for many, many years and that hasn't really been very fundamentally challenged by any one for many years. And that was very important to me to make very clear to people that we are just maintaining something that's been going on for a very long period of time. We're not extending surveillance powers in any way.

NF: Ian.

I: So if this is all down to the EU not being able to get its legislation right, exactly how much is it costing us to run this legislation through Parliament just because the EU made a mistake and exactly... and are you planning to recover this money from the huge amount of money that we pay to the EU to apparently get things wrong?

NC: Well okay we're probably just gliding into a different debate here. I don't, I can't tell you Ian how much it's going to cost to have the emergency legislation adopted in Parliament next week. I don't, as it happens I don't think, and I think you and I are probably going to part company on the EU perhaps not data communications. I don't think that the... I think the evidence is overwhelming that the benefits, that what we get as country in terms of jobs and money and tax revenues and so on far, far outweighs the ticket price we pay for being a member of the European Union. And I don't actually think it is wrong to have a system in the European Union of checks and balances so that a law is passed in this case and that judges in response to people challenging that law can, as they have done in this case, it was unexpected by the way, I don't think anyone expected this to happen, can in extreme cases strike down the law altogether. That is part of the checks and balances of any kind of grown up way of taking decisions that yes governments and parliaments can pass laws but they can be challenged in courts as well.

NF: Just on this, you said yesterday in the joint press conference you'd been persuaded, how much persuasion did it take from Mr Cameron?

NC: It wasn't so much from Mr Cameron it was more, as I say, everyone was quite taken by surprise by this court ruling and then a parallel...

NF: But why now Mr Clegg?

NC: Right well, for the reasons that I've explained earlier. So the telephone companies have said, we can't; and this is perfectly reason from their point of view; they cannot store stuff without a legal basis to do it.

NF: But haven't you insisted that it ends in 2016?

NC: Yes.

NF: So if it's important in 2014 why isn't it in 2016?

NC: Right so let me explain. So what has happened in parallel is that a number of communication service providers, big internet companies, many of whom are American, have raised questions about a separate issue, entirely separate, which is if you like the really, the much harder end of surveillance powers which is the right of the intelligence agencies on our behalf to keep us in exceptional circumstances on the basis of a warranty signed a secretary of state to intercept a telephone call or an email, to actually listen so you can hear the content. And that is incredible important to keep us safe. It needs to be done in a highly proportionate way and so on, lots of checks and balances. But question..

NF: They listen to the actual content of the conversation do they?

NC: Yes this is called legally, so one communications data which Ian and I talked about. So that's one thing right. Then separately a equally urgent need for legal clarification has arisen around what is called legal intercept which is in other words, the power of the intelligence agencies to intercept communications because, again it gets terribly legally complicated because there is uncertainty in this global internet world about where on jurisdiction ends and another one starts because you and I could have an email correspondence with each other. Just for the listeners we don't but we could.

NF: Actually we do need to [unclear 00:07:11] Go on.

NC: And let's say if that was of interest, it wouldn't be for the intelligence agencies. That would nonetheless be a service provider to us as two people here in Britain but from a company abroad. Right so there's just a legal issue there about where intelligence agencies have every right to try and intercept that conversation, that communication between residents here in the United Kingdom in a service provided to us as people living in the United Kingdom but the company is located elsewhere.

And so in other words, that uncertainty is creating quite a kind of urgent need to clarify exactly the scope of the law, again it doesn't add new powers. All we're doing and we're doing it in a very, very small bill, is putting beyond doubt that the existing powers can continue to operate. So as you can hear, quite a lot of this is quite techie, quite complex.

NF: Yes.

NC: You need some time to look at the implications. So these court proceedings we first need to decide: A. what is the nature of the problem; then did the solution to the problem require legislation, we decided that eventually it did. It needed to happen quickly, if we waited till the Autumn a lot of this stuff would just fall off the edge of a cliff that would leave us much more vulnerable to attack and to violence and to extremist violence and so on. And then of course we had this separate debate which is what you've just asked me about which is how do you make sure after the next Parliament, because you're not going to deal with all these complex issues on the hoof because there are big issues of principle about the internet, the national jurisdictions, the balance between privacy and security. How do we get that right in a grown up, balanced considered way. And that's why I said, okay let's extend this stuff for a couple of years but use that time to have that a big a debate that I've been calling for, for ages so that we can finally, hopefully, arrive at a consensus about what powers do remain o the statute book and what checks and balances there are to keep our privacy and civil liberties protected as well.

NF: I know we don't have a full half hour with you, so let's move, you have a pressing engagement, so let's move on.

NC: Right, yeah, Shakita in Earls Court, Hello Shakita.

S: Hi Nick.

NC: Hello.

S: This is regarding the electronic devices at the airport. So I'm a little concerned that we broadcasted our security efforts and tactics for the world to see. This includes terrorists and I feel this gives them the opportunity to change their tactics, even invent new ways of reaching their goal. So I just wanted to know from you, was broadcasting our concerns for the world in such detail, even highlighting participating airports, the safest way to go forward?

NC: Good point Shakita and look it's the thing that we're... we've just had echoes of it actually in this conversation earlier about surveillance powers, data communications and so on, is how do you keep our society open and free and people's privacy protected and all the kind of things and the values that we cherish when we're dealing with people who in the shadows if you like, are constantly innovating and trying to come up with ways to do us harm. And so when you deal with people who in secret are seeking to develop ways of doing us harm, how do you keep our society open I guess is the thing in a nutshell. And what you're asking about Shakita is that there has now been guidance given to all of us if we get on to certain flights to ensure that the electronic gadgets we've got, iPads, laptops, mobiles are charged because some travellers will be asked to show that the thing they're carrying on board works.

NF: And Shakita's saying are we showing too much of our hand?

NC: Well but Shakita, the thing is, you can't keep that secret, that's the point. You can't, once you've asked passengers to do that, people know. So you might as well be open about the fact that those are going to be the nature, and you can't...

NF: And it'll be here forever will it Mr Clegg?

NC: Well we talked about this last time. I'm not going to try and put a sell by date on it because as I said, this is in response to intelligence about the kind of ways in which people who want to do us harm might seek to do us harm obviously using electronic goods as a way to carry or potentially carry explosives. Now I can't... I simply cannot predict whether that, the technology will evolve in a different way, whether there'll be new threats by which they seek to do so. So I don't think I, I don't think I should try and provide false comfort to people that somehow we're all going to suddenly return to a pre 9/11 world where you don't have to have a shifting mosaic of checks at, particularly, at our airports.

NC: How concerned should we be that some of the budget airlines are choosing not to implement these new measures?

NC: Well I'm not clear about whether budget airlines can escape the airport based checks because that's not up to the airlines as such, that's up to the airport authorities.

NF: So you would recommend everybody then to make sure that they can switch on their phones and mobiles...

NC: Oh yes it's very, very clear anyone planning...

NF: ...laptops.

NC: ...particularly flying to the United States but it's not just those flights but particularly people flying to the United States just really... you've just got to, there's a new reality which is that if you turn up at an airport and you're electronic gadgets and things are not charged up and you can't show that they work you risk losing them.

NF: Okay. Thanks very much Shakita. We move on again. We've got to rattle through today.

NC: Yes Ash, Ash in Hendon, hello Ash.

A: Hi, good morning. Good morning to both of you and thank you for having me on. My initial question is about Israel. My question is how would Britain deal with the situation that Israel's going through taking into consideration the size of Israel and the sixty odd years that its come and the way it's come up with technology and nuclear weapons it's become one of the best countries with technology and nuclear weapons and all the rest of it. I've been looking at videos and how Israel is doing its best to tackle with the terrorism attacks an all the rest of it, how the Palestinians are using people as shields when Israel has to go and attack and get rid of the Hamas. The Palestinians are telling people to go on roofs and stay on roofs and when casualties are happening when deaths are happening, people are always pointing the finger on Israel.

NF: Okay let's get Mr Clegg involved. Ash stay on the line.

NC: Ash it's so easy of course for all of us outside the Middle East to try and pronounce with hindsight and distance on such an intractable conflict on as you quite rightly pointed out Ash, such a tiny, tiny area. Geographically this is such concentrated...

NF: The size of Wales isn't it?

NC: ...Gaza I think is the most over populated, crowded, slither of land anywhere on the planet. And you have deep, deep animosities reaching back into history. You've huge discrepancies of wealth and poverty. You've got generations fed on a diet of fear and in some cases on a diet of extremism and hate as well. And I know this is easy to say, but I think it nonetheless remains true which is that people I speak to on both the Palestinian and Israeli side of this conflict, most of them who I speak to, understand that in the long run the only way that they are going to serve their own people well is buying trying to secure peace. You can't provide security without peace. And every time you get this spiral of violence and we're seeing now unfortunately, yet again a spiral of violence and what do we learn? We learn that violence begets violence. And that is why I think it is so important, it feels very late in the day, it is so important that people do try and stick to the ambition of a two state solution. There is no, strategically, in the long run there is no alternative. There is no alternative to the Palestinian people, there is no alternative to the Israeli people, so the Palestinian characters who somehow don't even want to recognise the existence of Israel are clearly just plain wrong. And those characters again on the extremes of politics in Israel who somehow thing there is an alternative and there's some permanent military alternative to a two state solution, I think they're wrong as well. And that is we in Britain the United States and the European Union constantly try and play our role to foster the circumstances in which a two state solution could be agreed.

NF: And what do both sides need to do lastly on this Mr Clegg?

NC: Well at the end of the day they have to find a way of trying to communicate with each other and they have to find a way of trying to resolve these outstanding issues, territorial issues, settlements, the status of Jerusalem, the status of refugees and so on and so forth to create a viable Palestinian state living in peace and fully recognising the right for Israelis to live in peace and security themselves as well.

NF: Alright I'm going to take an email question here. This comes from Mike who's in Dartford: Can you now accept that Vince Cable got it totally wrong with the Royal Mail and stop defending him.

NC: I'm going to disappoint you. I've going to continue to defend Vince because I think what you're seeing is a lot of wisdom with hindsight. The suggestion somehow Vince should have know what was going to happen...

NF: What...

NC: Well hang on, I know you feel very incensed about this Nick. I know you do. But let me just get something...

NF: It's because it's one I can understand unlike the Middle East, I can understand this.

NC: Let me just get some points in. The share price, what was it, it was...

NF: 330.

NC: 330 went up to...

NF: Initial offer 330.

NC: ...went up to then well over 600...

NF: 615.

NC: ...it's now around... it's now dropped again by 25 per cent.

NF: 474.

NC: Exactly, okay you've got it. So I'm trying to make is 330 up to 600 back to 4..., you know share prices gyrate wildly and in fact the Royal Mail's share prices have gyrated well and I suspect will continue to do so by the way. There's been a 25% drop in the share price. The idea that Vince Cable, wise though he is, should be a soothsayer and should have been able to predict that I think is, and by the way what he's done in the process, he's given thousands of people work in the Royal Mail a stake in it. He's given millions of people a guarantee that the universal postal provision six days of the week will be provided across the whole of the country and crucially he's ensured that future tax payers won't be on the hook for billions of pounds of further subsidies to the Royal Mail which was the case in the past. So…

NF: Your loyalty is to be commended but if we sold…

NC: I try to be loyal.

NF: And you do very well.

NC: Thank you.

NF: But those two prices we mentioned, 615 474 it's never been below 330, it's never even got nowhere near 330.

NC: Alright, alright…

NF: Vince Cable described it as froth…

NC: Can you guarantee…

NF: …this panel of MPs…

NC: Yes.

NF: …a panel of MPs have said that they shouldn't and that is ridiculous to describe it as froth, Vince Cable got it wrong.

NC: Well the panel of MPs, with all respect to those MPs, have also…

NF: Cross party.

NC: …have also made suggestions in that report which are just factually wrong. Just plain wrong. So they've, for instance said that Vince should be able to publish exactly which investors have bought what and so on and so forth, the government doesn't have that information.

NF: Right. I see. What were you going to challenge me to do by the way?

NC: I was going to challenge you to, so can you guarantee that the price, the share price of Royal Mail will always stay above 330?

NF: How long have I got to guarantee for? How long do you want the guarantee for?

NC: Well I don't know you take your pick. But can you guarantee that.

NF: 12 months. Done.

NC: Five years.

NF: Well if I'm still alive. Alright I'll go three, three years and if I'm wrong I'll pay your mortgage. How about that do you want to shake on that?

NC: No listen I'm waiting…

NF: Three years and I'll pay your mortgage.

NC: …I know the danger of your bets, Boris Johnson needs to fulfil his to be experimented on by a water canon so I'm not going to follow, which I hear apparently he's got now…

NF: They've just arrived, they arrived yesterday.

NC: …so I'm not going to make the same, I'm not going…

NF: Three years I'll pay your mortgage.

NC: …Boris Johnson water canon mistake. The point I'm trying to make…

NF: …and your dad was a massive power in the city.

NC: He was a massive power.

NF: He was.

NC: The point I'm taking…

NF: He got duped, you got duped, Boris got duped.

NC: The point I'm trying to make is that the advice that Vince received was advice from figures who make it their business to understand how you estimate what might happen to the share price, what the valuation of a company is. There was, by the way, some separate criticism in the report…

NF: How's big your mortgage?

NC: …anyway you know my point. You cannot guarantee that it's going to be 330 and I think it's unfair, it is unfair for people now to start vilifying Vince for somehow being able to predict the future when clearly he couldn't.

NF: Right. Vince Cable Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Is he any good an innovation because the other two are a bit questionable?

NC: He is, he's good at all three.

NF: Alright. We move, was he ever innovated? We move on. Mr Clegg I think you have another call.

NC: Oh yes. Paulette in Sutton. Hello Paulette.

P: It's Paulette, yes.

NF: It's my writing.

NC: Oh sorry Paulette.

NF: It's my scribble.

NC: Forgive me.

NF: Yes. Go on.

P: Right. There's been a lot on the news and obviously Nick's been talking about it about people having gastric bands and gastric bypasses…

NF: Oh yes.

NC: Yes. Yes.

P: …on the NHS. Do you agree with it?

NF: This will come in, I'll just remind the listeners, this could come it at around six billion pounds up to a million obese people qualifying for these gastric bands, gastric bypasses, typically five to six thousand pound each. Deputy prime minister.

NC: Yes so Paulette, I've got the name right. Paulette the, if What's Nice, so that's this body that kind of makes, floats ideas about what the NHS should and shouldn't provide to us, the public, and by the way all they're doing is a consultation right, so there's no decisions taken yet. So this independent body, if that independent body had said anyone who is overweight or is worried about their weight problems can basically just go off to the local hospital it'll be sorted for you, you don't have to take any responsibility for your own, you know, for your own health, then I think frankly all of us would think well hang on a minute, this is, you know will all the stresses and strains on the NHS but the, actually the report from Nice was subtly different it was about Type II Diabetes. And that is very important to remember, so it's not about weight as such it's about the link between weight and Type II Diabetes. Now I'm not a Type II Diabetes specialist but my understanding is that Nice have said that there are circumstances in which weigh reduction operations could help you either handle and sort of manage Type II Diabetes if you're a sufferer, better, or even in some cases, which I was quite struck by because I didn't think this was possible, reverse the condition. So I just, all I would urge is before we all kind of, and understandably so, well hang on isn't it outrageous the NHS has just kind of help people with their weight management issues remember this is about Type II Diabetes, it's not actually about just allowing people to go to the NHS because they can't, you know they can't or won't be prepared to deal with their own physical conditions.

NF: Let's bring Paulette back into it. Paulette.

P: Well first thing is that people who get Type II Diabetes, I'm assuming are mainly overweight, so it is to a degree self-inflicted, but I can't really say anything because I've had the gastric bypass.

NC: But was that related to, was that related to diabetes or…

P: No. No. I didn't have diabetes at all.

NC: But did you have that on the NHS?

P: I did.

NC: Well you see your case is not actually the subject of…

P: Absolutely.

NC: …this consultation from Nice, that's the only point I would make.

P: But there's no difference, but there is no difference they do offer it on the NHS but to me it's no difference between them helping me to lose weight and someone stopping, them stopping someone from smoking. It's about preventative rather cure isn't it?

NC: Yes look there's a bigger issue here, isn't there Paulette, which all of us kind of feel is that responsibility, individual responsibility is an important thing in life, you know, we can't just always ask other people to kind of sort of issues where we have a big role to kind of try and manage our own lives but we also want the NHS to be there to support us all, to provide care free at the point of use. The dilemma and it's a dilemma which is kind of frankly hanging over us I think for a long time is so where do you draw the line. And that's where this debate, quite rightly, has not kind of come up today in the newspapers and so on. All I'm saying is, and I'm not going to comment on your own circumstances Paulette, but I'm kind of reluctant to condemn a consultation document, a) I haven't read from top to toe but crucially is about quite a serious health condition which is Type II Diabetes.

NF: Paulette thank you again. We move on because we've only got a…

NC: Terry in Billericay.

T: Ah good morning Nick…

NC: Hello Terry.

T: …thanks for taking the call.

NC: That's alright.

T: Children abuse, I'm sure you have a load of it, people phoning in, in Westminster. Can I just ask you one quick question?

NC: Sure.

T: Do you think there has been a cover up in the past?

NC: Terry I genuinely don't know, all I do know is the allegations of a cover up, the allegations of powerful people, powerful men, all men, not only organising amongst themselves to abuse children but even more revoltingly then seeking to kind of like cover up for each other, and remember this is the allegation, abusing some of the most vulnerable children you could possible imagine, children who don't have their own families, children who are in the care of the state. Precisely the children we should be going that extra mile to look after, to protect, to support are being, this is the allegation, being preyed upon by powerful people. People who clearly then in addition instil such an intense sense of fear, intimidation in their victims, that is the allegation. Now I genuinely cannot think of an allegation of crimes which are more revolting, more heinous and more in need, even these many years later, of proper investigation. I cannot tell you, of course, what happened, until these things are properly looked at and that's why you've got the police, and we discussed this before, the police looking in it, you've got the investigation of the BBC, you've got the investigations in the NHS…

NF: Well and this new one with Baroness Butler-Sloss, whose credibility and determination cannot be questioned but surely the fact that her brother was the Attorney General at a time when it could be seen that we went rather lightly on a possible offender, the wisdom of giving Baroness Butler-Sloss this appointment Mr Clegg.

NC: I think that's really unfair on her. I really do. I think any, I don't know her myself but I, she's one of those unusual people in British public life whose integrity has always been viewed by everybody and everybody, all sort…

NF: So those muttering, because her brother was the…

NC: I think the idea that because she had a brother in politics at that stage somehow that disqualifies her from doing this work. Now I think I don't accept that and I think it's right that she's said that she's going to carry on doing the job. By the way I also think, I also think it's immensely, you know I think it's really moving to see some people, my colleague, Tessa Munt, a Liberal Democrat MP, she never obviously said this to me, no reason she should by the way, it's entirely her life and her business, but she decided on the back of all of this to publicly say, and to talk about her, the experience of abuse that she had suffered herself. I'm full of admiration for her because it's a bit like, it's different, different, but it's a bit like, do you remember a couple of years ago there was suddenly a number of MPs came forward and admitted for the first time, they'd been struggling with mental health issues.

NF: Yes.

NC: I think given that we're dealing with people who were, that's the allegation, were powerful in politics and were abusing children, I think that you've now got politicians, like Tessa, who are brave enough to bare their own soul and, which must make, you know, her feel very sort of vulnerable, I think is such a powerful antidote to the fear and the silence which has so long allowed this terrible level of abuse to lurk in the shadows for so long.

NF: We only have you for another minute and let's just try and lift the mood and I move you to the role you've been playing for us for the last few weeks as Mystic Clegg. Here was your prediction for England V Italy.

NC: Even in the heat, the tropical heat of Manaus, wherever it is, I predict a two one victory for England, how about that?

NF: That was of course Italy one, Italy two, England one. Then we looked at the England Uruguay game.

Could we now get to Mystic Clegg on what we will see tonight? Mystic Clegg that's quite clever.

NC: Okay one nil to England. I think it's going to be really tightly fought.

NF: Yes that was of course another victory to Uruguay. Last week we got you on the quarter finals with of course the Netherlands, the other team we follow.

The quarter final is on Saturday, Netherlands v Costa Rica, Mystic Clegg you've not got one right yet, a score prediction if you would.

NC: Mm, three one to the Netherlands.

NF: On that bombshell…

NC: Two goals by Van Persie.

NF: Well you got the winning team but my god it was [unclear 00:28:21] game. Mystic Clegg who wins the World Cup on Sunday night?

NC: Oh Germany.

NF: Oh they do?

NC: Yes.

NF: Oh right.

NC: They do. Ya.

NF: [Unclear 00:28:31].

NC: No. No. No.

NF: Your world cup is over. They'll be weeping in the streets.

NC: I mean the way they destroyed, the way they destroyed Brazil, I mean it was, I was just reeling. And my prediction against Argentina, three one for Germany, drei ein.

NF: Drei ein. Right. [Unclear 00:28:49] Nick Clegg everybody put your money on Argentina. You're listening to LBC, Call Clegg comes to an end with Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

NC: Thank you.