[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Brown interview: key quotes
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown said he had "learned a lot" since 1997

Chancellor Gordon Brown is due to be named Labour leader on Sunday, before taking over as prime minister from Tony Blair next week.

In a wide-ranging interview with three BBC editors, he answered questions on various topics, including some emailed in by BBC News website readers.

STATE CONTROL

"I have learned a lot in the last 10 years. I have learned that top-down, 'pulling the lever solutions' are not always the ones that are going to work best.

"And I have learned that if you are going to face the big challenges - climate change - you can't do it without personal responsibility, the involvement of people.

"Global economic competition, I have got to persuade people to upgrade their skills. Terrorism, we have got to win people's hearts and minds. You really have to involve people and build a national consensus, if you are going to solve the challenges of the future."

EU REFERENDUM

"The test of this European amending treaty is surely, we didn't have a referendum on Maastricht, we didn't have one for Nice, we didn't have one with Amsterdam.

"You have got to have a test by which a referendum would have to be met.

"The question is, does the change justify a referendum? Let's see the outcomes out of the negotiations, if our red lines of what we say is important to have is met, then it's unlikely there would be a need for a referendum."

GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS

"There can be no vested interests ever holding a claim on a government because we demand, and the demand of the public, is we govern in the whole of the public interest.

"But I do say we have got to build a consensus in this country to deal with the big challenges we face and I want a broad sense that there is a national purpose.

"I think we should welcome the involvement and engagement of people from business communities in our schools in a whole range of public services, and we will see more of that in the years to come."

PARTY FUNDING

Mr Brown was asked if New Labour politicians had become too close to people with a lot of money who were prepared to give it to the party.

"I don't think anybody's ever said that of me and I don't want that to be assumed of anybody else, but nobody's ever said that of me.

"But what I want to put in place is a new system of party funding...But of course you're going to have to get an all-party consensus."

TAX

Mr Brown agreed that tax, as a percentage of national income, was higher than it had been under the last government, if National Insurance was included, but said the basic rate of income tax had fallen.

He said he did not accept that tax rises announced in the first budgets after the last three general elections had not been mentioned during the election campaigns.

"I think at all times I have tried to be straight with the British people," he said.

"I don't accept that we didn't tell the electorate about the challenges we faced ahead. We had a huge debate in the general election of 2001 about the need to finance our health service."

Asked if he would rule out raising the tax paid by the highest earners indefinitely, he said: "I'm not going to announce here the manifesto for the next election...what I do say is we will stick to this manifesto."

THE NHS

Asked whether there should be an upper limit on private clinics carrying out NHS operations, he said: "It's what works that is going to matter here.

"There are certain areas, for example in hip joint operations and cataracts where the independent treatment centres have really been very good."

But he said if a hospital was the only one providing A&E and maternity services to an area it could not be allowed to "go bust".

To tackle problems with out-of-hours access to GPs, he said more direct walk-in centres were needed, more involvement from pharmacies and electronic prescriptions, but he said: "Yes, we will have to have more opening by GPs as well."

IRAQ

Mr Brown said mistakes had been made with pre-war intelligence on Iraq and "by all of us in the reconstruction process" after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"We have apologised, and I repeat that, for the mistakes that were made in intelligence."

But he stood by the decision to go to war, saying Saddam had broken every international resolution against him for 12 years adding: "That was an unacceptable solution and it had to be dealt with."

He added: "It is a good thing he is out, it is a good thing Iraq is a democracy, it is a good thing people are able to vote."

INEQUALITY

Mr Brown said that if people wanted free markets, open trade and flexibility, there had to be investment in the future, through education, so people were beneficiaries and not victims of globalisation.

"I want people to get on and I applaud people who do well," he said. But he said people had to pay their "fair share" of tax, and that was why a review had begun into private equity.

He said there were problems with school discipline, poor parenting, children "losing their way" and young offenders.

But he added: "What I don't accept is British society is so weak that we can't solve these problems."

Charities and the voluntary sector would be approached to help get mentors and one-to-one coaching for youngsters who had fallen through the net.

TERRORISM

"We can win this battle in one way by military, and security and intelligence information only to a certain point. We have got to win what I call the battle of hearts and minds.

"Over these next few years I believe this issue of terrorist activity, we move to a new footing, a new opening, a new frontier in this.

"And that is culturally, politically, by journals, by magazines, by newspapers, by debates at a cultural level as well as a political level, we persuade people that moderate opinion can survive an assault from extremist opinion in religious dogma."

INVITING LORD ASHDOWN TO JOIN HIS CABINET

"I want to get people of real talent and experience and expertise, not because of party labels, but because they have something to offer the country.

"Now whether it is as advisers, or whether it's doing reviews, or whether it's in other positions of government I think we have a duty to draw on the best people and to get the experience and the wisdom of people who can make a contribution, because they have national standing to our national life."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Highlights from the Gordon Brown interview



RELATED BBC LINKS



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific