Question Time: 11/2/16

The show was broadcast from Llanelli. The panel comprised of Stephen Crabb (Conservatives), Carwyn Jones (Labour), Nigel Farage (UKIP), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru), Romesh Ranganathan (comedian).

Question one asked if 53,000 junior doctors were wrong or if Jeremy Hunt was wrong. Farage said that the government’s objective was to try and get the health service to be at the same high standard throughout the week, but they have gone about it the wrong way. Ranganathan argued that Hunt’s approach had been incorrect, especially with forcing new contracts on junior doctors. Crabb proposed that doctors and the government were looking for the same thing of a fair contract excellence at all times so there is no weekend effect. He added that the sticking point was over whether Saturday is a normal working day and blamed the BMA. Jones said that the strike was proof of failure as it has been taken as a last resort. Farage and Jones clashed over the record of the NHS in Wales; Farage claiming it was the weakest part of the UK, which Jones denied. Wood sided with the doctors and said that Hunt is wrong and accused Labour in Wales of ignoring staff shortages in Welsh hospitals, claiming only three other EU countries have fewer doctors per head of population.

The second question asked if the steel industry should be bailed out in a manner similar to the banks. Wood argued that the steel industry is as important in Wales as banking is to the UK and the Plaid Cymru was proposing nationalising the industry whilst it needed support. Crabb agreed that the steel industry is important to Wales, but that nationalising the industry would not help protect jobs, as it has been nationalised in the past and there have still been large job losses. Jones explained that the industry is going through a tough time and that the Conservatives have opposed tariffs on Chinese steel; he also added that the strong pound is creating export problems and that energy costs make British steel more expensive. Jones favoured British steel being used for British infrastructure projects. Ranganathan blamed the government for blocking proposals from Europe to support the industry. Farage claimed that the pound is falling and that the government could not stop the Chinese supplying cheap steel because of European regulations, whilst countries like America impose high tariffs. He also added that he did not favour nationalising steel, preferring to stop cheap steel from China being imported. Crabb argued that the government is supporting the steel industry with energy costs and that the costs are high because there are subsidies for renewable energy.

Question three asked if Brexit would be a way of controlling immigration. Ranganathan accused all sides of using scaremongering tactics over immigration and wanted to hear proper reasoned arguments. Farage argued that Brexit would be the only way of controlling immigration because of the European agreements in place. Crabb put forward the view that regardless of whether Britain remained part of the European Union or not, there would still be lots of people looking to migrate to Britain. Wood said that it was in the interest of Wales to remain within the EU and that there needs to be differentiation between migration from the EU and from without. Jones said that there is lots of mis-information about Europe in the country and that immigration is an emotive subject, which is a European issue requiring a European response.

The final question asked if MPs should receive larger pay increases than teachers or nurses. Jones described the 18% pay rise for Welsh Assembly members is too much and that pay rises should be linked to pay rises of other jobs. Wood agreed it was too much and would not be taking the increase. Crabb said there was no way of MPs refusing to accept whatever increase is recommended. Farage recommended paying them less unless there was Brexit and then they should be paid more because they would be running the country. Ranganathan said that all the politicians were happy to be receiving the increase.

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