How you put Deputy PM Nick Clegg on the spot

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From immigration to independence, and students’ fees to former PCC Shaun Wright, Star readers have quizzed Nick Clegg on the hot topics of the day.

Here the Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister answers your questions in the second On The Spot feature in The Star.

Nick Clegg MP

Nick Clegg MP

Q: Ben Handley: What does Sheffield need to do to make sure our HS2 station is built in the city centre?

A: “I think the main thing we need to do in Sheffield is make the case, if that is the best thing for the city.

Clearly it is the best thing for the city, and for anyone who commutes or travels on HS2 it is best to have a station in the centre.

I think the thing that needs to be weighed up is what does it mean for travellers from round about Sheffield, South Yorkshire, because of course they will have views.

And I guess you need to look at things like the knock-on effect on cost, what having the track going into the city centre means for speed and things like that.

But my own view, having sat down and looked in some detail at the group in the city who have been working up the plans, I think they have done a really good job, they’re making a really good case.”

Q: Graham Elliott: To those of us who live in north east Sheffield, it is obvious there are large numbers of EU migrants who are neither working nor self-sufficient. Under EU law, they do not have a right to remain in the country. Why is your government allowing them to stay and claim benefits indefinitely?

A: “We’re not, is the simple answer. I strongly agree with Graham’s assumption that I think he makes which is the freedom to move around the European Union – which remember is a freedom us Brits enjoy as well – should not be the same as freedom to claim.

That’s why previous governments, particularly the previous Labour government, got it totally wrong because what happened was people were able to turn up here from elsewhere in the union and basically start claiming benefits even though they paid no taxes into the pot, no questions asked, no strings attached.We are the first government to say that is going to come to an end. You can come here if you want to look for work and stand on your own two feet and, yes, after a longer period of time there are certain circumstances where you can be supported through the system.

But we’ve put an end to, and are very proud of this, this system that used to exist where you could move or people could come here from elsewhere in the European Union and they could claim benefits from day one no questions asked.

We’ve changed that. Freedom to move, yes, freedom to claim, no.”

Q: Jo Chamberlain: Will you face up to climate change by investing in renewables, insulate homes and moving away from fossil fuel?

A: “Yes and I think that’s right. We have done a great deal of it. So if I could get Jo’s details I’d be able to send her an email with some of the detail of the huge, multi-billion pound investments that have gone into green renewable energy sources in this country under the last three or four years.

There’s been a massive expansion in the investment in offshore wind, combined heat and power and all the other technologies which are necessary to make sure that we keep the lights on but we keep the lights on without forsaking the future of the planet.”

Q: Laura Carnall: What do you think about the proposed independent Yorkshire campaign, would you support it?

A: “Having just campaigned hard to do my little bit to win the argument that it’s better we are together, rather than falling apart, in the referendum north of the border I’m not going to advocate that Yorkshire becomes it’s own country – tempting though it might be at times, particularly when in the Olympics we were doing better in the medals table than many other self-standing countries around the world.

What I do think we need is not full independence like a separate country for Yorkshire but just a lot more power and control over our own affairs. It cannot be right that we’ve got all this devolution and power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and yet for far too many places in England, great cities like Sheffield, people have to constantly go with a begging bowl on bended knees to officials and ministers in Whitehall.”

Q: Luis Arroyo: Did you write a letter to Shaun Wright telling him to go? If not, why not?

A: “Because I don’t think he needed a letter to know exactly what I thought! I don’t think Shaun Wright had any misapprehensions about what I thought. I said so publicly, forcefully for a long period.

I thought it was extraordinary, I’ve never seen such a brazen attempt to ignore the wishes of the public by his attempt to stay in his position.

I do think his behaviour has put the final nail in the coffin of the police and crime commissioner’s experiment altogether – I was always very sceptical of it.”

Q: Oliver Coppard: How many times have you spent the night in Sheffield Hallam over the past 12 months?

A: “Oliver Coppard, for those of you who don’t know, is the Labour person in the South West of Sheffield. So I don’t think I would tell anyone actually, other than probably my closest family, my sleeping habits. I’m certainly not going to tell my Labour opponent!”