Question Time: 5/11/15

The show was in Tottenham and the first question was whether junior doctors would be supported if they went on strike. Justine Greening argued that it needed to be discussed by all sides. Victoria Coren Mitchell made the point that the doctors have essentially been told to accept the offer and she would support them. Peter Hitchens said that in his opinion, doctors should not go on strike because of the role they play, even though he sympathises with them. He also mentioned that the health service seems to have lost trust in Jeremy Hunt. Chukka Umunna said that he did not support a strike, but would not condemn them if they did, blaming the government for the situation. Baroness Jones said that the offered pay rise looks good, but there would be lots of hours to be worked and doctors would remain tired; she also said she would support a strike if it happened.

The second question asked if full military action should be taken place against IS following the suspected bombing of a Russian place. Hitchens was against as it is only suspected and not proven and also because it would increase the risk to safety as opposed to decreasing it. Greening argued that they are a threat to the UK and action was needed, although Britain is currently taking place in action in Iraq, but not Syria. Umunna said that there had been missed opportunities for intervention in the past elsewhere and would have no objections to action as long as it was legal and well-supported. Baroness Jones argued that America has been bombing Syria for 14 months and the situation has not improved, so further action is not the answer. Coren Mitchell was unsure because there are no easy answers that would provide a good solution for the people caught up in the conflict.

Question three concerned housing immigrants because of a shortage of housing available. Umunna recommended building more housing, although the availability of space is an issue in his constituency. Greening argued that more homes have been built over the past few years and that help is available for people looking to get on the housing ladder; she added that the problem was caused by a lack of building in the past and would take time to solve the problem. Coren Mitchell described living in London as unaffordable for the vast majority of people. Baroness Jones argued that prices were driving people out of London and that rent caps should be considered along with bringing old properties back in to the market and building more social housing. Hitchens made the point that there have been problems for years since council housing was sold off and that the lack of housing was a mask for economic mis-management.

The fourth question asked if cuts to the police force are endangering the public. Baroness Jones said that the cuts were too large and implemented too quickly, putting the public in danger. Greening said that crime is falling and victims are more satisfied with responses and that cuts were needed due to the economic deficit. Umunna countered by arguing that certain crimes are increasing by large percentages and that the cuts would put the public at risk, with chief constables having told him they could not guarantee public safety; he added that Labour would make cuts to a maximum of 10%, whilst the current cuts would see the budget cut by a third. Hitchens argued that there have been more police recently than in the past, but they are often ineffective due to a lack of patrols on foot, responding to crime rather than deterring it.

The final question asked if schools were becoming joyless exam factories. Greening said no and that regular progress checks are needed for individuals and for schools. Baroness Jones said they are and there should be a love of learning in schools. Hitchens argued there was too much focus on gimmicks and they were becoming joyless exam factories. Coren Mitchell said her daughter would be home schooled. Umunna was not in favour of testing at seven and that more teachers were needed, with class sizes being too high.

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