Send your questions to Alistair Darling

By Reuters Staff
October 20, 2009

darlingDo you have a question you would like to ask Chancellor Alistair Darling? Now is your chance.

At 1:30pm British time on Wednesday, October 21, Reuters is hosting an exclusive Web 2.0 interview with Darling and we want you to send us your questions to put to the top man from the Treasury.

From the crippling global recession to the debate over bankers’ bonuses, it has been a tumultuous year at Number 11 Downing Street. You may want to quiz the Chancellor on one of these topics, ask him about the government’s plans to prevent another downturn or how Labour plan to defy the polls and win the upcoming general election.

During the interview we will put as many of your questions as possible to the Chancellor and will be running a liveblog of the event, much like we did during this social media interview with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Leave your question in the comments box below or via Twitter (using #askdarling) and join us on Wednesday for our Web 2.0 interview with the Chancellor.

Click here to view the full live blog

What measures can you take in the economy to give the multitudes of recent University graduates a chance of gainful, meaningful employment which is relevant to their studies and offers a firm foundation for their future careers?

Posted by Ciaran Henderson | Report as abusive

When the time comes to negotiate a financial settlement in advance of Scottish independence, will you step aside and a llow this to be done by someone who is (a) English and (b) has not signed the Scottish Claim of Right?

Posted by James Matthews | Report as abusive

Dear Mr Darling,

Can you explain to me what kind of United Kingdom you and your government are running when the part of it you and the Prime Minister come from, namely Scotland, gets advantages and benefits denied to the people of England, even though the tax revenue produced by Scotland is less than its expenditure? Your students do not pay tuition fees, even when attending an English university, ours do. Your students do not leave university with massive debts, ours do. Your old people get free personal care, ours don’t. Your constituents have their council tax frozen, ours don’t. Your fellow Scots have their water rates frozen, our English people don’t. Hospital parking charges and prescriptions are going to be abolished in Scotland, not in England. Your country enjoys self rule in all internal governance while you and your fellow Scottish MPs can legislate for, even be ministers for, all English matters. I would love to hear you justify this -if you can. Yes, I know what you will say. You will say that that is how Scotland has decided to run its own affairs, that is how its parliament has democratically decided to operate. A weasel answer when you know perfectly well that England does not have its own parliament to make similar decisions for itself; and when you know as Chancellor of the Exechequer that thanks to the Block Grant and the Barnett Formula each Scottish man, woman and child gets £1600 more per annum from the UK Treasury -your department of state- for social expenditure.

Yes, I would love to hear how you attempt to defend this injustice, how you might attempt to justify this ‘state of the Union’, one in which one of its constituent nations Scotland, your nation, has immense financial advantages over mine, England.

Your sincerely,
Michael Knowles
Congleton, Cheshire

Posted by Michael Knowles | Report as abusive

Last week Jim Murphy, Secretary of State for Scotland, told Parliament that “The Scottish Government will have more money next year than they have this year”.

Will England also have more money to spend next year?

Posted by Gareth Young | Report as abusive

Dear Mr Knowles. An idot can answer your question with one word Oil. Scotland has it. england doesn’t.

Mt Question for mr Darling is thus:

When the Govt come to sell their stakes in the major banks and make an huge profit, which they will, what does Mr Darling ( or his successor ) plan to do with with the profit? Reduce the govt national debt? Pay a small windfall to each taxpayer?

Posted by the enlightened one | Report as abusive

What was the purpose of the ‘Golden Rule’ to not borrow more than 40% of the national GDP? It now stands at 59%. Gordon Brown would often broadcast his Golden Rule, but as soon as the target was reached, the rule was conveniently and immediately scrapped. Was it just more Labour smoke and mirrors, to kid the British public that the finances were in the hands of professionals. There was no attempt whatever to keep to this guideline.

Posted by Nicholas Pike | Report as abusive

Why does the Government preach the ‘United’ Kingdom gospel but practice a un-united kingdom in that it discriminates against the English. Your boss and many of his ountrymen have signed the scottish claim of right and therefore are not fit to govern as they are obliged to put the interests of scotland before that of England. Why do you not allow England the same rights that scotland have?


I would like to ask Mr Darling why he has the right to be a member of the British Cabinet when it is considering purely English matters such as transport, local government, health and education when he cannot do the same for his own constituents in Scotland because these matters are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
Should he not stand aside at these times and let English Ministers decide for England?

Posted by HmeRuleforEngland | Report as abusive

Despite the fact of not taking any side on political parties (labour/conservatives/lib-dem, etc), I became really concerned about some comments from specialists surrounding the conservatives economical policy of cutting public expenses. I personally believe that a major factor for economical growth is to have more money turning around boosting development. I understand that you, Mr. Darling, are from a different party and cannot answer for them, but in the case of a conservative victory in the next elections, what type of consequences can we expect to the british economy if such policies are applied? I would like to know your personal opinion as an experinced economist, putting political differences aside.

Posted by Saulo Soneghet | Report as abusive

My question is three, but related.

Is the pound a FIAT currency? and who controls the money supply in the form of credit?
As I am sure you are aware cash is a tiny proportion of the the money supply, credit, ( debt ) is the biggy.
And who are the private share holders controlling the bank of England?

Posted by Archie Ellis | Report as abusive

As someone who spends a lot of time abroad just to be with my children, i would like to ask you why the government is forcing the £ down further and further. There is no benefit to a weak £ it just drives the balance of trade into the negative as our exports are too expensive.
It also appears to me as if we have talked ourselves into recession. All the negative comments that you in particular and the B.O.E have made have made people (including myself) frightened to spend whatever money we have.
Over the years successive governments have let our manufacturing base slip away and we are as a country a service industry reliant on imports. Now you let the 3 slip to record lows making those very imports 33% more expensive than last year … where’s the logic in that Mr darling???? Surely if we are going to rely on imports then we need a strong £ just to survive. To me,there seems no logic to the governments stance on the economy and it appears as a deliberate road map to disaster.

I’m sorry if i sound stupid or naive but im not a financier, just a truck driver and i see what i see through my wage packet.

Posted by Alf Smith | Report as abusive

If the exchange rate of sterling going down will assist exports, and there is no need to be concerned that our currency has suffered a major devaluation. Surely you have worked out that we do not have raw commodities in our country therefore we have to buy these in from abroad with sterling. Because sterling is low the cost of importing the raw materials to manufacture exports will rise. Hence our exports will still be at a higher price than other economies. Surely it is economics 101. So a weak pound does not help our exports because it now cost’s more to manufacture hence our export price is rising.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

What would you describe as your greatest success in this parliament and what is your greatest failure?

Posted by Anne Frier | Report as abusive

If you win the next election will Labour have the confidence to make the unpopular decisions necessary to reform the over-complicated pensions system in this country?

Posted by Anne Frier | Report as abusive

My question is in relation to the bail out of RBS and Lloyd’s by the taxpayer.
You have said that you are confident that the taxpayers will get their money back, I think just getting our money back is a poor return on what was at the time a high risk investment. As many small private investors I have doubled and in one case trebled my initial investments in the UK banks over the last twelve months.
It seems to me that we are taking all the risk for little or no reward. Would it not be more sensible to at least look to double our initial investment in RBS and Lloyd’s before looking to exit?

Posted by Craig Mountaine | Report as abusive

I just wanted to ask if the government is trying to get rid of self employed people with all the ‘agency worker directives’, the IR35 and everything else?

I don’t want holiday pay, I understand I wont get paid if I am ill, but am I really not able to opt out? I simply don’t understand why there isn’t a form that I can sign and move on? Am I really not allowed to simply earn a living?

The case in point refers to the new legislation about agency workers earning full rights after 3 months. Will this not bring an end to contracting and loose revenues and opportunitites?

If I were to go permanent, my take home salary (and the tax I pay) drops about 30% due to ‘the package’ a pension, sick pay/holiday pay etc, loosing revenue in tax collected and reducing opportunities.

Posted by martin | Report as abusive

Does, the Chancellor think that Public Sector wage cuts and/or special extra pension contribution payments such as have been implemented in Ireland will be necessary to help us reduce the deficit to a sustainable level?

Posted by wade pollard | Report as abusive

As a small self employed business owner employing about 35-40 staff, please explain the incentive to me in attempting to continue to grow my business when after taking into account class 4 national insurance I will be paying 50%+ of my earnings to the government to cover its mistakes of the past. Frankly I feel cheated that all the hard work I have put in to my business has been a waste of time and energy!


dear Alistair,

the banks have made no change at all to the way they treat their customers. Barclays still owes me just under £10,000 but is still not being guided by the FOS or FSA.

Are you going to hold them to account or is it all just talk.

Hope your meeting at Reuter goes well


Posted by james | Report as abusive

Why, Mr Darling, did you shave your beard? Was it to curry favour with Labour spin doctors? Were you told that you couldn’t be a top-level minister/sec of state if you kept it? Or did you think it might make a difference? It may sound trivial but these sort of issues go to the heart of whether Labour is a serious party or one that obsessess on such matters.

Posted by Citiboy | Report as abusive

Why does the UK appear to have a policy for a weak pound Sterling on the basis that it is assisting the economy out of recession and yet the United States appears to have the opposite belief in that a Strong Dollar assists their economy out of recession. Which is the correct policy and why?

Posted by Clive | Report as abusive

Despite record low interest rates, banks have continued to lend at rates which create record margins in all areas of credit issuance (notwithstanding defaults). I understand that this has, along with direct Government support, saved the banks – fine. However, should we now stand idly by when banks issue huge bonuses to staff? My main question – is Government complicit in these actions (record margins)?

Posted by Richard Kay | Report as abusive

When will you raise rates to let the markets correct them selves proparly and stop helping the country go broke with this short term fix of quantative easing which will not work, as we all can see?
Or are you aiming for vote winning policys at the moment and worry about the conseqences later!!

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive

How much NET revenue has treasury raised from empty rates – given demolition of buildings (future ability to earn tax revenues) offset of rates against corporation tax, adjustment in corporate pension contributions to plug the gap (netted out of tax) loss of SDLT and other income as a result of lower transaction values (present market conditions aside) and the need to pump cash into troubled areas to encourage development which due to Empty Rates is no longer viable? If, as I suspect the figure is nil or negative, is it not time to at least increase the relief period to 18/24 months or preferably to reverse the legislation?

Posted by Julian Lyon (RICS COG) | Report as abusive

question for alistair darling:
leading up to the credit crisis many institutions bought up debts (mortgages and loans)from others, to what extent does delayed payment for these purchases cause confusion and problems now?

Posted by william garwood | Report as abusive

Does the Chancellor agree that going after the bankers cash bonus culture is simply headline grabbing low hanging fruit to appease a disgruntled public? Both Bear Stearns and Lehmans had a core culture of employee ownership, with staff owning a third and a quarter of the stock respectively, which didnt prevent the firms imploding. Wouldnt it be more useful to go after the root of the banking crisis, which is an inherently unstable fractional reserve banking system that feeds a culture of housing booms and a myopic central bank that ignores asset bubbles to focus solely on inflation?

Posted by IBGYBG | Report as abusive

The one action that the government could take that could rapidly restore faith in the labour leadership is to hold a snap referendum on our signing the Lisbon treaty and then abiding by the result. You have no idea how many labour voters feel badly betrayed by the governement reneging on it’s promise. Why can this not now be done?

Posted by p. savage | Report as abusive

The top down approach of QE, using tax payers money to prop up the Too Big to Fail Banks, justified to protect us all – is this Democracy or larceny?

Will the UK Government be able to pay down its debt without debacing the Currency?

How much is being spent on interest payments per year due to QE policy?

Why should the Middle Class (fixed income) be slaughtered for YEARS to come to pay for repeated Government overspending?

A Child with basic arithmetic can work out this isnt going to succeed. But if it does it will prove that water can run up hill, a drunk can drink himself sober, and we will all NEVER EVER have to do a days work again, instead we will go to the ATM machine in the Kitchen and print off what we wish !

Posted by GPR Johnson | Report as abusive

Mr Darling,

My question is regarding Lloyds Banking Group and the current Government position. From everything that I have read and heard, it seems like the government is giving a real hard time to LBG with regards to standing up for them in Brussels as well as the negotiations around the APS scheme. Please stop turning the screw on the bank.

Surely it is in all our interest to see this organization back on it’s own feet as quickly and safely as possible. Whilst I appreciate that the government effectively bailed out this organization, we all know how it came about. If Lloyds had not taken over HBOS the recession may have been worse in the U.K. Halifax was the biggest share held before the takeover with an estimated 2-3 million shareholders. These shareholders have seen much of the value destroyed, not to mention what the Lloyds shareholders have had to go through.

Is it too much to accept that although Lloyds saw the takeover of HBOS as an opportunity, it also significantly helped the government by aiding confidence and bringing back some stability into the system. Surely you must realize this. Had it not been for Lloyds the government would have had to fully nationalise HBOS. A decision that would have caused untold damage. Is it asking too much to take this into account?

I quote an article that I read recently which seems to sum up the governemnt position quite well. I would like to hear your opinion. “Lloyds also made another terrible mistake: it trusted the government, which is now backtracking on all aspects of the deal and has singularly failed to standd up for the firm in Brussels”

Mr Darling for the sake of the shareholders including many pension funds as well as the taxpayer please succeed in doing the right thing.

Av Singh

Posted by Av Singh | Report as abusive

We have seen the world stock markets arguably have their worst decade in history. Since the majority of private pension and stakeholder pension funds are invested in these markets, comfortable retirement for the average person is somewhat of a gamble – unless of course you are in the public sector or in the financial fraternity! What actions are the government proposing to take which will reduce the uncertainty of this lottery and make saving for retirement worthwhile?

Posted by Ian Crossley | Report as abusive

If large amounts of personal debt are bad (which they probably are) why do you think it is acceptable to have such a massive national debt? Do you not think that the government should accept some culpability for running up the debt to such large amounts?

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

The 50% rate of tax and other taxes will raise £6 Billion a year.
Could you tell us how you intend to bridge the remaining £160 Billion deficit you have created. People and businesses need to know, in order to be able to plan in advance.

Posted by Jan Zolyniak | Report as abusive

Savers have been punished to rescue the reckless. How fair is this ? Aren’t you ashamed that you have been incapable of finding a better solution to this crisis.

Taking care of ‘overall interest’, have you not motivated and encouraged the reckless to further their activities? This is a closed question, please spare me from an essay response.

Posted by Amit | Report as abusive

After 10 years of of expanding goverment beaucracy advisors, FSA, and BoE policies we have arrived at an incomprehensible economic position due to a lack of common sense. Do you think the security of the pensions that the encumbents will recieve detract from their performance and their inability to apply common sense?

Posted by A Walker | Report as abusive