12 November's BBC Question Time, factchecked

13 November 2015

We've factchecked claims from this week's Question Time on the EU, NHS and Trident.

The panelists were Business Secretary Sajid Javid, Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell, UKIP's Paul Nuttall, writer and equality campaigner Paris Lees and Managing Editor of the Sun, Stig Abell.

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What we pay to the EU

"[Our contributions to the EU] are running at £55 million every single day"—Paul Nuttall

In 2014, about £55 million a day flowed from the UK to EU institutions, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But our official contributions—the money that the British government coughs up—were about £52 million a day (£19.1 billion for the year).

If you take off the money the EU pays back, this falls to about £27 million a day.

How many of our laws come from Europe

"The majority of our laws are now made in Brussels"—Paul Nuttall

This kind of counting exercise is tempting but probably doesn't tell us much. Laws come in different types and sizes; one piece of legislation can contain hundreds of legal rules, or they could all be split up into hundreds of separate measures.

Counting up laws one by one means comparing, say, an EU regulation addressed only to Swedish fishermen—which technically has the force of law in the UK as well—with the Act of Parliament restructuring the NHS.

Ignoring that large caveat and carrying out the exercise anyway, you can get very different answers depending on what you want to count as "our laws".

If you want to count "laws passed in the UK", an estimated 13% of UK legislation was 'EU-related' between 1993 and 2014, according to the House of Commons library.

But if you want to count "laws that apply in the UK", that brings in all EU regulations. These apply automatically in all EU member countries—so all EU regulations can be said to be part of UK law, whether or not they have any impact here. Counting these is what justifies saying that "the majority of our laws are now made in Brussels"—actually over 60%.

The NHS finances

"Why has it [the NHS] got a deficit of £1 billion already this year?"—David Dimbleby

"It doesn't have a deficit this year, there are individual hospital trusts that might have issues … there will be some trusts at any point in time, some will run deficits some might have surpluses"—Sajid Javid

Mr Javid is right that individual trusts' financial situations differ, but most are in deficit. Almost 4 out of 5 trusts and foundation trusts are in the red.

In total these trusts overspent by £930 million on their budgets from April to June this year—this is where the £1 billion figure comes from. The costs of agency staff and pressures on demand have both been cited as contributing to the problem.

This isn't the 'overall' NHS deficit as it doesn't include the finances of the bodies that commission services—Clinical Commissioning Groups. Past figures suggest including them reduces the deficit total slightly as they ended last year in surplus overall. However, the King's Fund has found their financial situation is expected to get worse.

How the NHS ranks internationally

"There was a report out last year... Britain's health care's rated top out of 11 Western countries. At the bottom came the US"—Paris Lees

There was. It was by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health-care research centre. We beat France and Germany, and the US came last.

On the other hand, the OECD's latest comparison said that quality of care in the UK "continues to lag behind that in many other OECD countries," which is pretty good evidence that these kinds of headline claims can be as much about what you measure as how the NHS is really doing.

NHS spending and managers

"Under Labour, between 1997 and 2010, the NHS budget trebled. But the number of managers grew within the NHS by 58%"—Paul Nuttall

UKIP's figures for the NHS budget refer to England rather than the whole of the UK. Those figures confirm spending trebled from around £33 billion in 1997 to almost £100 billion in 2010—but that's before adjusting for inflation.

Accounting for the rise in prices, spending roughly doubled rather than trebled. The trends are similar for the UK overall.

UKIP also told us that Mr Nuttall inadvertently understated the rise in managers—his figures refer to the increase between 1997 and 2003. According to the King's Fund's analysis, the number of managers and senior managers in the English NHS increased by 82% between 1999 and 2009.

The increase across Labour's full term in office was higher again—an 87% rise between 1997 and 2010, figures from the Health & Social Care Information Centre show.

These are "full-time equivalent" numbers—the equivalent of the number of full-time positions currently filled, even if the hours are shared among part-time staff. This gives us a better idea of the level of staffing by accounting for how many hours are worked. On a headcount, the numbers and proportionate increase are similar.

The cost of Trident

"If we got rid of trident we'd have £167 billion"—Paris Lees

As we found recently, £167 billion is the price of staying in the club of nuclear armed nations until 2060, according to the MP Crispin Blunt, as reported by Reuters. His calculation is based on government figures.

Crispin Blunt's £167 billion cost is a reasonable estimate but not a precise science: you have to guess how much the economy will grow over the next 45 years. Not going ahead with Trident also doesn't mean that £167 billion would be immediately available to spend: this is money which would be factored into annual spending.

The government recently told Parliament that it would cost £25 billion to replace the submarines which carry the nuclear weapon, and that the running costs would be about the same as now: 6% of the defence budget, which itself is set at 2% of the whole of the UK's economy, as set out in NATO guidelines.

We came out with a similar figure to Crispin Blunt assuming—as he does—that new missiles come into service in 2028, and that the economy will grow by 2.48% each year after 2020.

To put this in context, the UK's GDP over the same period will add up to about eight hundred times that £167 billion figure.

There are other estimates of costs too—for example, the cross-party Trident Commission estimated last year the annual cost would be 9% of the defence budget.

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