“IT’S great to end the week here in Uttoxeter. This is about you having the opportunity to ask questions so you can ask whatever you want.”
Those were the words of Prime Minister David Cameron as he spent 30 minutes on Friday being grilled by workers at Fox’s Biscuits factory in Uttoxeter about all manner of subjects from pensions to getting the troops out of Afghanistan to what is his favourite biscuit. Here are some of the highlights.
On getting troops out of Afghanistan
“We want them out by the end of 2014. Our troops have done a fantastic job there but I think it is important to them and their families and to the government in Afghanistan that there is a deadline to bringing them out.
“I am confident when our troops are home at the end of 2014 it will be a functioning country.
“I think every day about the people we have lost in Afghanistan and the troops out there now and we must remember them this remembrance weekend.”
On the economy
“We are trying to get the country out of a very big hole. The economy is now growing, employment is growing.
“We had to make some very tough spending decisions — our budget deficit was bigger than Greece, Spain, and Portugal all those countries you have seen in the news.”
On the retirement age
“I’m afraid the hard truth is that it is necessary (to raise the retirement age) as we are all living longer.
“People may have to work longer but we want to make sure their pensions are higher when they do come to retire.
“Last year there was a £5.30 increase in the state pension which was the biggest ever rise.”
On minimum pricing of alcohol
“It may not be popular but we are planning and it is time to look at a minimum unit price for alcohol.
“We don’t want to put up the price of a pint in the pub, or the bottle of wine with your evening meal.
“We have a problem in our country on Friday and Saturday nights with the problems we get from too much alcohol being consumed and much of that is due to the discounts in supermarkets.
“We need to stop the really deep discounts of lager and beers and that is why we are looking at a minimum price for alcohol.”
“We have a great manufacturing industry in the UK and particularly here with places like Fox’s and not far away you’ve got JCB, one of the UK’s most successful manufacturing businesses.
“I think it is important that I get on a plane with business people from this country and go around the world selling this country and what we produce.
“At Fox’s you make great biscuits and export products but we need to get out there and improve the biscuit eating habits of the people in Europe and the rest of the world.”
On his favourite biscuit
“I have been asked this question before and it is always different but I don’t really have a sweet tooth I’m more of an oatcake man.
“We do get through a lot of Farley’s Rusks as my daughter loves them and which I believe you make here!”