Call Clegg 16 October

October 16, 2014 2:22 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Watch as Nick Clegg takes your questions live in this week's Call Clegg.


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: Good morning this is Nick Clegg just after 9 o'clock with Call Clegg here on LBC and you can call now if you want to and ask any question. So the number is as ever, 0345 6060973 or can email at and of course you can watch as ever by going to the website at on So let's go straight to our first caller, Matthew in Romford. Hello Matthew?

M: Hello Nick, how are you?

NC: I'm alright, how are you?

M: Yeah we're doing okay. It's a fine day today. Talking about the mess up by Lord Freud yesterday are we?

NC: Well is that what you want to talk about?

M: Well I think that's the question. But I'd like to change the narrative on what was going on. I'd like to see a solution to getting the disadvantaged into work. And I'd like to see the redistribution of income, what we call taxes, going towards getting the disadvantaged back into work. And allowing commercial enterprises to do the right thing socially but not cripple their businesses. And I wonder what your comments might be on that?

NC: Yeah. Well first things first. You are quite right there is a very legitimate debate and a very important debate to be had about you change the tax system as we have done. Because of the imprint of the Liberal Democrats in government to give people more money back who are on low and middle incomes to get more people in to work. And as you rightly say to make sure that people with disabilities are given as fair chance as anybody else to work. And there is a very sort of serious debate there to be had about how the government and employers can work in partnership to make sure that that is possible.

I think what was so offensive to people about the remarks recorded at the Conservative Party Conference that Lord Freud made was when he used this word 'worth'. And he said you know some people with disabilities weren't 'worth' the minimum wage and that is what has quite rightly touched a raw nerve because it's kind of making a comment about someone's individual value, if you like 'worth'. And I think really, that was just so offensive to people. But that doesn't mean as you say Matthew, of course that doesn't mean we shouldn't have a grown up debate about how we can more disabilities into employment. In fact, this government, we've got some programmes. I forget what it's called. I think it's called the Access to Work Programme, a project where you help with some of the costs associated with some people with disabilities in the workplace, where the government steps in and helps employers cover some of the costs. So you know there are some, there are lot of legitimate debates around that. But I think to say that someone is not worth something is, you know quite understandably that's just caused huge offence.

M: I can understand someone in a heated situation or a discussion situation slipping up on their words. We all do that. As a seasoned individual in the political arena maybe he shouldn't have done that. I'd like to have thought, naively, that if another political party had got the recording of it, which clearly they had, they would have used it as a positive slant to find a solution and not the negative slant to try and slay a head. You know and maybe the political parties, and everyone comes into this bag I think to degrees, all the political parties need to be more intent on finding solutions instead of finding one up man ship.

NC: Yeah look, I have no idea how this recording came out or anything as much as you do, Matthew. But he said what he said and I think as I said there was this word 'worth' that somehow someone is not worth the same kind of rewards in the workplace as somebody else, I think that was really, that was deeply distressing and offensive to people but as I say and as you quite rightly imply Matthew that shouldn't stop any of us having a discussion and frankly a difficult discussion. Because some of these issues are difficult to get more people with disabilities and with other disadvantages in life into the workplace that has to be our joint aim. Of course it does.

NF: So Deputy Prime Minister good morning to you.

NC: Morning.

NF: Good morning to you sir. So when Lord Freud says, where there is something we can do nationally, if someone wants to work for two pounds an hour and we've taken a call earlier this morning from a mum who's son unfortunately has considerable emotional health issues. And he was doing just that. He was doing...I don't think he was even getting two pounds an hour. I seem to recall he was getting a pound an hour. And then because that wouldn't meet the minimum wage that was all stopped and now he and his colleagues they just there and watch TV. So if there is someone who wants to work for two pounds an hour and so emotionally challenged they really can't contribute that much, is that wrong?

NC: There are, we already have in society different ways in for instance, this is in a completely different kind of area, but it's still I think, kind of relevant. So for instance as a society we say it's acceptable to pay apprentices a different kind of minimum wage. We have as you know a minimum wage operating on a different scale depending on your age. I three years ago or so, launched something called the Youth Contract where we the government offered to pay employers, literally cash in hand if you like, a certain amount of money to incentivise them to take on young people into the workplace. Because quite rightly three years ago when we were in the immediate aftermath of the terrible crash we were trying to make sure that more young people got into work. And thankfully now there are more young people back in work than there were when we came in to office. So of course you do, and as I said earlier in reply to Matthew, we already have a scheme where for instance if someone's got...

NF: So this man who wants to work for two pounds an hour he should be able to do it?

NC: No. What I think is wrong...

NF: Oh he shouldn't?

NC: ...what is just wrong is to say that someone's not worth something in society. I think that's suggest that someone is...

NF: I agree there.

NC: ...worth less.

NF: But can someone if he so desires, wants to work for two pounds an hour and they accept, unfortunately now whatever...

NC: No what we're... Yeah what I was saying to... Hang on but Nick, as you know, the law is the law about the minimum wage. You've got to pay the minimum wage because that's we as a society...

NF: But at this day centre they had a lovely time for I think a pound an hour just doing fairly menial tasks without in anyway being offensive about it. And now they can't do that so they just sit and watch TV. And the mum said, I'd rather him doing that at least it brought him something, it gave him something to physically to do.

NC: Sure, there are, of course there are ways that people can come in to an office and help out with work experience, internships and stuff which doesn't...which is not covered in the same way by minimum wage employment. If you are an employer however and you are employing someone to do a full day's work you cannot under the law, quite rightly, basically look out for people who you can short change or pay less than you would otherwise have to. I think it's quite right that we as a society decided to do that. And so far at least there has always been a cross party consensus that that is the right thing to do. But as Matthew implied that doesn't mean of course we shouldn't continue to make every effort to get people into work who presently don't' have work.

NF: Let's move on to other calls. Where are we going Deputy Prime Minister?

NC: Sure. Rob in Bracknell. Hello Rob?

R: Hi there Nick. I would like to talk about the virus of Ebola if that's alright?

NC: Yeah.

R: If it is so bad and killing many of thousands and is heading to the UK, surely the obvious answer is abort all planes coming in and out of the UK?

NC: I don't think Rob, I mean we as a government act on medical advice. So the Chief Medical Officer said that we should start these screening procedures at Heathrow and now it will be extended to the Eurostar and other airports as well. We don't actually have any direct flights from West Africa so it's all about making sure that we track passengers who come in indirectly from elsewhere. So if we did what you suggest Rob, you'd have to actually pretty well stop any flight from any other parts of the world where someone conceivably might have come to this country. I just don't think we can put up a sort of no entry sign across the whole of the United Kingdom. We can't sort of seal ourselves off. So we have to take other sensible measures.

R: How valuable is somebody's life and somebody's family to just cut off the airplanes just for now? I mean it's...

NC: Well Rob as I say, the advice is that the risk to the general public in this country remains low. As you you know the experts have said they do anticipate that there might be a very small number of cases which may appear in the United Kingdom. We've already had one case of that young man, I've forgot his name now, who was very well treated in...

NF: William Pooley.

NC: William Pooley that's right. Who was treated very well, thankfully, in a London hospital and the NHS, I'm convinced of this having looked at the plans very closely myself, the NHS I think is doing a fantastic job of making sure that is ready for those small number of cases. And I said, we're also, on medical advice started these tests at the airports but I don't agree with you Rob that I think the solution to this and nor do I actually necessarily think it would work to somehow just stop any sort of traffic of any person in and out of this country.

NF: Conservative MP down in Dover, Charlie Elphicke is saying they should be screening at Dover Port, Deputy Prime Minister. Your view?

NC: Well, look we will do what the medical advice says we should do. There is, you know I think we need to be really open with people here that we cannot unless you do what Rob says which is suddenly sort of stop anyone moving in and out of the country altogether. But you cannot eliminate the risk altogether because people move around from continent to continent and from country to country in all sorts of different ways. But we can make sure that we minimise the risk. And as I say the risk remains low and that is the advice of everybody who has looked at this. It remains low to the general public.

NF: Alright we move on where do we go next?

NC: Sharon in Waltham Forest. Hello Sharon?

S: Hello. Good morning Mr Clegg.

NC: Hi.

S: I was just wondering if I could just put this to you. To me UKIP appears to have tapped in to a sense of listening to people. And the sense that he will say what he, you know, do what he says and whether he's part of a minority government or majority. And you know if he says he's going to deliver on a Euro referendum or control immigration then I kind of feel that people think that that is what he will do. And so my question to you is: Do you feel that there is anything that you feel that you could learn from UKIP or Nigel Farage given that he's tapped in to something and that it is generating a wave of consensus that can't be denied. Clearly they have got their first MP while you are losing deposits.

NC: Well Sharon the first thing I would say is, he is one MP my party has 55 MPs, let's see what happens at the next general election. I've been leader now for several years and I've heard the kind of end of the Liberal Democrats predicted almost on a weekly basis and every time we confound it. And I think we will again. But the point you make which of course is right is that Nigel Farage is tapping in to a very widespread sense of cynicism and anger about mainstream politics, a lot of kind of anxiety about them on the world, a lot of public concern about immigration and so on. Where I don't agree with you at all Sharon, is that somehow what he says is the answer to those fears and anxieties and firstly he...

S: I don't think they're the answer either. I'd vote for the answer. I would not vote for him at all but I...

NC: Yeah okay but worse than that are the... you know he hops around wildly. So one moment he basically says he wants to kind of chop up and privatise the NHS and now he says he doesn't. And then do you remember the other day they had a tax in the morning on luxury products and by the afternoon the tax was no longer their party policy. I think what they have got is what a lot of political parties who are in a similar position and there are lot of parties like that around. If you look at sort of Populace in Italy, in France, in the Netherlands, the Tea Party in the States, in a sense they've got the luxury of being able to just sort of say stuff, change their mind you know the following day. It doesn't really matter, because what they are doing is they're kind of...they are just, they are and he does it well and he does it skilfully. They are speaking to people's kind of fears and anger about mainstream politics but they're not really being put to the test of actually providing answers to them. My own view is if UKIP came in to power, got anywhere near power it would be a complete disaster for this country. And actually do you know what I think quite a lot of people who might even be supportive at the moment might even know that but they just want to give everybody a kicking by supporting UKIP in the meantime. And I think that's what's going on.

S: And that's the sad thing. That's what I'm saying of that you know, that people are kind of to some degree fed up, to some degree they feel they're listened just even if it's on one point even it may be disastrous for everything else. But my problem is that you know, you say that they would say one thing and do something else. But this comes back to the fact that had you just stuck to the one thing that would have counted which was the tuition fees I think it would have changed something. And that's what I'm kind of...

NC: Yeah sure. It's a very legitimate question Sharon and obviously something I think about a lot. My own, I mean if you want we can talk about that. My view is that I've never hidden from people the fact that I'm not Prime Minister. I didn't win the election so I don't' have the mandate to implement the Liberal Democrat Manifesto in full. I wish I did. I wish I was Prime Minister. I wish I could everything that was in our manifesto. There were compromises, which happens when no party wins an absolute majority. And I also hope, come next year, people will judge me on the countless things the Liberal Democrats have done in government to get people to work, fairer taxes, better apprenticeships, more decent pensions, better childcare all the things we have delivered rather than the one thing we couldn't. But that's for people to judge and at the end of the day the people are the boss not the politicians. But what all I would say to you Sharon, is I think we are in phase in politics at the moment and it's not just here, it's in other countries as well. There is a lot of anger, a lot of discontentment, there is a lot of kind of people not even wanting to listen to what mainstream politicians have got to say. And it's very fertile territory for people like Nigel Farage. He does it well but I don't what he presents sat the end of the day is remotely a solution to the big, big dilemmas that we face on immigration, on jobs, on cost of living. In fact I think if you did even half of the things he appears to say, we'd make the country poorer and less secure.

NF: The Prime Minister is going to make immigration a red line in his talks with Europe. Will you be supporting that?

NC: I mean until... I have no idea what... The Conservative Party is in an actual complete panic now. In such a total flap about UKIP that every day I wake up to new headlines. The Prime...

NF: It's an emergency the Prime Minster has asked for.

NC: Well no Conservative has put any proposals to me, they would never breathe a word of this within government. And who knows, look maybe the press release that they issue, the press release tomorrow, will be different. I think the Conservative Party have got a fundamental problem - they're running after UKIP in a complete panic, and...

NF: They've got a fundamental problem?

NC: What?

NF: You say, they've got a fundamental problem.

NC: Yes.

NF: You lost your deposit in Clacton.

NC: Well listen, look...

NF: If they've got a fundamental problem, what the hell have you got?

NC: Well the one thing I haven't done, which I think is a huge mistake, is kind of run after UKIP in the way that Sharon and I were just discussing...

NF: You certainly haven't, you got 483 votes in Clacton, your Party, that's almost half of the Greens.

NC: Well let's see what happens...hang on a minute. The one by-election where we went head to head, we won in Eastleigh.

NF: When was that?

NC: In Eastleigh, that was the one by-election where the Liberal Democrats...

NF: That was some time ago.

NC: No, hang on a minute, it was actually when our fortunes were more perilous than they are now. If you really want to look at how the main parties have measured up to UKIP when they've gone head to head in by-elections - 'cause let's remember all by-elections always end up actually being a contest between two front runners, and all the other parties tend to fall by the wayside. We won, and by the way, at the time, I remember being told constantly we were gonna lose - we won. That's the first point. The second point is, look the Conservatives have got to ask themselves a really fundamental question - are they gonna constantly run after UKIP, which I don't think is gonna impress anybody, and only had one destination, by the way, is that they become interchangeable with UKIP, which is what Boris Johnson seemed to imply last week. Well then why doesn't the Conservative Party leadership just come clean and say what they really want is to leave the European Union altogether, and then let's have the debate. As you know, as everybody knows, I think that would be a complete disaster - yes, reform the European Union, but don't quit altogether, 'cause it would put so many jobs at risk. But I think this constant shilly shallying, where they kind of, every week they say, well actually, we'll edge a little bit closer to UKIP, I think is a disastrous political strategy.

NF: Can I feed in an email, if I may, Mr Clegg.

NC: Yes.

NF: This comes from Tracey in Hertfordshire, who says, you are the MP...well actually, I think she means, you are an MP for Sheffield. When the Sheffield United football player, Ted Evans comes out of jail tomorrow, should he get his job back?

NC: Oh it's a difficult one. Listen Tracey, this is not for me to decide, it's obviously for Sheffield United.

NF: Well they're a team you support, I understand, you've done various things with them in the past, haven't you, you must have a view.

NC: Well obviously, I obviously do. Sheffield United are one of our local teams. But I think that the owners of Sheffield United, and the Manager has said very clearly that it's the decision for the owners first to take, before he takes any view on this.

NF: You must have a view.

NC: Well, if you can just let me finish, you might hear what my view is! Listeners not aware, by the way, that Nick Ferrari and I are not in the same studio.

NF: I know!

NC: Lets just clarify that, in case it just doesn't sound quite as intimate as it normally does.

NF: Well bizarrely, I was in Manchester, where you are today, yesterday, with a former leader of the Liberal Democrat Party.

NC: I know, and I rushed up to Manchester to join you, to find that you'd gone southwards.

NF: I know, he put his trousers on and went south, and I've come back...

NC: Oh stop that now, there was enough of that yesterday.

NF: Now that's enough, I don't need you to rehash old gags! Now this particular story that we come to...

NC: Sorry, Ted Evans.

NF: Does he put his soccer boots on again?

NC: I think the owners need to think really long and hard about the fact that when you take, you know, a footballer on, you're not taking just a footballer these days, you're also taking on a role model. You're taking on a role model, particularly for a lot of young boys who look up to their heroes on the football pitch in a team like that. And he's committed a very, very serious look, it's not for me , or any politician, to start saying that when someone's served their time, you know, it's not for us to kind of chop and change the rules. It is for the football club to decide...

NF: So you're saying no, he should not...

NC: But I really do think, you know, footballers these days, they are major public figures, who have a public responsibility to set an example for other people. And I'm sure that will weigh heavily in the decisions made by the owners of Sheffield United.

NF: Of course, if he was a bus driver, he'd get his job back.

NC: Look, when someone's done their time, they've done their time. I'm not, you know, the last thing I'm gonna do is...

NF: But you're indicating...didn't you do a photo call, was it Bramwell Lane, the ground?

NC: Yes it's Bramwell Lane, but just...

NF: What's their nickname by the way, what's Sheffield United's nickname?

NC: The Blades.

NF: The Blades, right. You do a photo call at the Blades, and there he is in his kit...are you gonna shake his hand?

NC: Look, as I say, I don't even know whether he's gonna go back to Sheffield United.

NF: It's just a little bit of make believe, but you've left it to the owners, 'cause you're not of an opinion. So the owners think, we paid £3 million for this bloke, which is a lot of money in Sheffield United's terms, and we're going to put him back on the pitch, he scores a lot of goals...

NC: My opinion is...

NF: There he is, in his red and white striped shirt, and his black shorts, there we are, playing for the Blades in Bramwell Lane, offers his hand to the Deputy Prime Minister - what are you gonna do?

NC: You're showing a rare glimpse of knowledge about a football team!

NF: Anyone would think I've researched it!

NC: Hitherto hidden, by the way.

NF: How did you know the nickname by the way - that went wrong. Now come on, what do you do?

NC: Now look, I'm not gonna play that make believe. My opinion is this - rape is an incredibly serious offence.

NF: It is.

NC: Unbelievably serious offence, right. He's done his time, but I just don't believe that the owners of the football club can somehow wish away the fact that that has happened. That is what he'll be known for, and that is something which, particularly for the youngsters following that team, they'll always be aware of. And I just, it's not matter how much you want to push me, I don't think it's right for politicians to tell football clubs what they will do, and who they employ. All I'm saying is, I think football players these days, they get paid a lot of money, they're public figures, and you know, you can't ignore that.

NF: Lastly, on a related theme, you're probably aware that Judy Finnigan gave views on this on a television show. Her daughter, Chloe Madeley, her daughter by Richard Madeley of course, has now had the most vile threats on Twitter.

NC: Horrible.

NF: Deputy Prime Minister, there has to be some form of legal action taken against these people, doesn't there, or a toughening up, or Twitter has to do more - something has to happen to catch up with social media, Deputy Prime Minister.

NC: Twitter, or some people, I've heard recently, all it Titter. But you know...

NF: Yes, hello, who's been listening!

NC: Well you know...

NF: Well none of this is scripted Deputy Prime Minister, it all comes off the top of my head, I don't even get a briefing from my team of two.

NC: To the much more serious point. I mean, whatever you think of what Judy said, and you know, she has set out her views and has clarified and so on. It is just outrageous, it is outrageous that people are being as menacing and vile towards Chloe in that way. And there are powers that, of course, can lead to people being prosecuted if they are inciting violence or hatred towards another individual. And these people must stop, they've got to stop, it is just not on in a civilised open society, that someone can say something in the way that they did, and that then their daughter gets targeted in such a threatening and offensive way.

NF: Lets get back to Call Clegg. Who's next, Mr Clegg?

NC: Samantha in Richmond. Hello Samantha.

S: Good morning.

NC: Morning.

S: After 17 years, I've left childminding. This year alone, we've lost over 4,000 childminders, the main reason being unfair inspection, ridiculous amounts of paperwork. The majority of us work for less than the minimum wage, and work over 50 hours a week. And we still are one of the cheapest and most flexible forms of childcare. Is it not now true that this government doesn't want childminders anymore?

NC: No it's not true, Samantha, and I'd be very interested to hear from you what kind of inspection you felt was being too onerous, and indeed also the paperwork that's been too onerous. But as you know, we, you know, we have done a huge amount to expand the amount of childcare available, make it more affordable. We're introducing as of next year, as you know, tax free childcare for working parents across the country. And of course, childminders play a major role in that, but equally, and you'll be the first to acknowledge this having worked in the sector for 17 years, and obviously been very experienced - parents also need confidence that the childminders are good childminders, and that...

S: Is that by throwing ridiculous amounts of paperwork at us?

NC: Well there Samantha, that's a question of, obviously, of degree. If it is ridiculous and it can be shown to be ridiculous, we should get rid of...we should always get rid of ridiculous..

S: When you have childminders leaving this profession because they cannot keep up with the legislation that is constantly being brought in, things changing constantly, we have no support. You've got rid of that, you've now brought independent childminding agencies, when the majority of us have turned round and said to you, we don't want them. We don't get listened to. The inspection process is absolutely ridiculous - all they want to focus on is paperwork. It is not about the children. We do not get treated fairly.

NC: So Samantha, tell me the one change over the last few years that has done most to sort of, you know, obviously upset you, about the treatment of childminders.

S: The ridiculous amount of paperwork we're expected to do.

NC: And that's increased a lot recently?

S: We work 50 hours a week...if I'm working 50 hours a week, my focus needs to be on the children, not writing down something for an Ofsted inspector. Every inspector inspects differently, that is not fair. I don't know what they expect from me, from one day to the next, when they walk in my door.

NC: I tell you what Samantha, I know it's too late for you, 'cause obviously, it sounds like you've left the profession. It would be really helpful for me to get under the skin of this a bit, and to really understand from your point of view what extra paperwork you've had to deal with, and whether it's reasonable or not. So you know, if it clearly is unreasonable I can try and do something about it. Can I get in touch with you separately...?

NF: We'll take the details, I assure you, and we will pass that over to your office, Deputy Prime Minister. Samantha, stay on the line, talk to one of my team. Mr Clegg, where do we go to next?

NC: Next caller is Neil in Gatwick. Hello Neil.

N: Good morning.

NC: Morning.

N: If Anne Robinson on the Weakest Link can manage to have like 15 contestants, how is it an impartial media not able to manage to get six parties on the stage at any one time on every channel, Mr Clegg?

NC: Oh, are you talking about the leadership debate?

NF: This is the leaders' debate...stay on the line Neil. We're talking about this bizarre two, three, five formation, as put forward by the broadcasters.

NC: By the broadcasters, yeah.

NF: You get cut out of one of them...

NC: I know, outrageous. Look Neil, I mean this is a proposal from the broadcasters, but you're right, Neil, they could have come up with a different one, and said the more the merrier, let's just do a whole bunch of debates with everybody.

N: It's not impartial, Nick. If they're pushing you out, and pushing other parties out, it is not impartial, Mr Clegg, I'm really sorry , I'm very annoyed about this.

NC: Yes, I know you are Neil, but don't get annoyed at me! I'm just a jobbing party leader.

N: But if you're not gonna listen to me, then why listen to you! I've seen you in the papers where you're press ringed...

NC: I tell you what Neil...

N: I'll be writing letters to the BBC and the ITV telling them.

NF: Neil, why do you want Mr Clegg on TV so desperately, that's what I want to know!

NC: Don't sound so surprised, Nick Ferrari. Neil, if you don't mind, can I get you involved in the Lib Dem negotiating team on this, 'cause I think you're gonna do us proud. But no look, Neil, the basic point is this leaders' debates have got to happen, I really am looking forward to them, I enjoyed them last time.

NF: Would you like the two, three five...the two being Ed Milliband and David Cameron, which many would say is a little unfair, 'cause you've been...

N: It's two, three five...not interested at all, I want a complete spread of every party on every channel.

NF: Okay Neil, there's no doubt, you've got the job, you are heading the negotiations.

NC: Neil, no, I take your point. And look, of course, everybody has their own axe to grind, haven't they. Of course I think it's not right to have the government's record basically put under scrutiny in one of these debates and not have one whole path of the government there. So of course I don't think that's right. And then other parties have also got their complaints. At the end of the day a decision needs to be made. And the last thing I want is for all this argy bargy between the parties to be used as an alibi by any, particularly the larger political parties, to say I'm gonna wriggle out of having this debate altogether. Because that would be cheating the British people - I think the British people like the fact, and you clearly do Neil, you like the idea of having all of us up there, having to kind of speak for ourselves, having to do battle, if you like, through these leaders' debates, so that you can make up your own minds. And that's the danger is, that people get, you know, come up with evermore exotic reasons why they don't like this or don't like that, and then you end up with nothing. And that's what I absolutely don't want to happen.

NF: When Paddy Ashdown says "I know exactly what Cameron will do, he'll say we'll do it, but the Greens have got to be in it. He'll try to make a mess.". How do you responds to what Paddy Ashdown says?

NC: Well Paddy is clearly right. If you are the occupant of Number Ten, and you've got all the kind of advantages of being able to do all that stuff, from the steps of Number Ten, which the rest of us can't, you don't have much of an incentive, do you , to suddenly kind of operate on the same level as everybody else. So it's a kind of, it's just a sort of basic role of politics I think.

NF: But, "Mr Cameron will try and make a mess"...

NC: Well they clearly are...the Conservatives have come up with one, a shifting array, many excuses about why they don't like the leaders' debate. But they cannot be allowed to get away with it, they've got to come and be held to account. I'm prepared to be held to account as Deputy Prime Minister in all the debates, as Neil suggest, not least what we've done in government, I'm very proud of a lot of the things we've done in government. And I do think it's important that everybody is held to account on the same basis.

NF: Now you've got a busy agenda up in the north. Can we try one more question, have you got one more?

NC: Yes, Gerry in Enfield...hello Gerry.

G: Hello, good morning gentleman.

NF: Good morning Sir.

NC: Morning.

G: I have a question for Mr Clegg. Mr Clegg, will you be supporting the Home Secretary in her plans to review the police bail procedures that have been talked about?

NC: Yes, it's something I've called for in the past. I think it's a real, there's a real issue, isn't there, when you see these high profile cases, but of course many, many other case which don't get reported, where people are basically kept in this kind of limbo, this legal limbo for a very, very long time. That's not the purpose for which bail was originally designed - bail was there so that someone could go about their daily business, but for a relatively short period of time nonetheless allow the police to marshal the evidence they need, and then obviously proceed with charges and prosecution in the way that they need to. It was never designed to have somebody basically hanging around for a year and a half before the police decided what to do. And I think it's right that the Home Office is looking at this now.

NF: And one final question, or point from me, before I let you go, Deputy Prime Minister. You talk often, and probably quite rightly, about the many achievements that you've had in government. One thing from my understanding that you've yet to achieve, or I might be wrong, is that you haven't quit smoking. Do you ever have a cigarette in the park?

NC: You're right to say, Mr Ferrari, that's an ongoing process, this weaning myself off cigarettes. I'm not a sort of heavy smoker by any stretch of the imagination...I have the occasional one. But I don't smoke in parks as it happens, but I have to say to you, I don't...this proposal that I think you're referring to is from Lord Darzi, who has produced a report for Boris Jonson.

NF: Yes.

NC: And on this, hallelujah, get the drum roll out, I actually agree with Boris Johnson! I don't think it's, I don't think it makes any sense really to say, you know, you can smoke on that street corner but you can't smoke in that town square. Or you can smoke in that park but not in that park...I just don't understand how that would work. But more than that, I kind of think, at the end of the day, if people want to make smoking illegal altogether, then they should make that case. But this, trying to make it illegal by 1000 cuts, just seems to me, you know, if Lord Darzi wants to say, look we should just make tobacco illegal altogether, then let's just have the debate - it's not one I would support. But I think sort of saying, well it's gonna be illegal in that part of our shared public space, but not in that part, it just doesn't seem to me to make much sense.

NF: How many do you smoke a day?

NC: Oh no, very little, very little indeed.

NF: Well how many a you get through a packet a week?

NC: No, no, no.

NF: You don't get through a packet a week

NC: I'm not gonna go...look Nick, I'm not gonna get drawn into this conversation. Aren't we running out of time already?

NF: We are. Now in a sentence, what are you doing up north, Deputy Prime Minister, tell the listeners.

NC: Well actually what I'm doing, which is exciting, which doesn't happen very often. I'm, as you can imagine...

NF: Meeting with Lib Dem voters!

NC: No, no, well yes.

NF: We found one, get up here sorry, go on!

NC: Don't be facetious. I am doing that, but I'm also doing something which I hope you'll be interested in. Which is that I chair, as you can imagine as Deputy Prime Minister, lots of committee meetings of cabinet ministers and ministers in Whitehall. And one of the ones that I do is a committee where we look at how we can promote local growth, not least in parts of the north, so that we can help deal with this north south divide. And I thought, well lets have that meeting in the north, rather than constantly having these meetings in the south about the north. And it's part and parcel also about something that I launched over the summer called Northern Futures, where I'm inviting...I mean, we've got eight open days, where people can come with their ideas, in various locations, across the north of England today. Where people can come up with their own proposals about how we can deal with this terrible north south divide, so that the north can stand on its own two feet and rival London and the southeast in the decades to come, in terms of economic prosperity and jobs and dynamism.

NF: Well good luck with that, and the colleagues who are working with you. Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, thank you indeed, sir. Of course, LBC is a national station, so we wish you nothing but good fortune with that. That's Nick Clegg appearing on Call Clegg here on LBC where news is next.