Fixed-odds betting machines 'concerning', say ministers

 
Fixed odds betting terminal Bookmakers say few people play for high stakes

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Ministers have said the growth of high-stakes roulette machines on the High Street is "concerning" and they do not rule out action to restrict them.

Culture Minister Helen Grant told MPs their future was "unresolved" and bookmakers must take immediate action to increase protection for players.

People can wager £100 every 20 seconds on fixed-odds betting terminals.

Labour said they were "an example of David Cameron's Britain" and councils should have new powers to curb them.

But following a Commons debate, Labour's call for local authorities to be given new powers to restrict the growth of the machines was defeated by 314 to 232 votes.

There are more than 33,000 fixed-odds betting terminals in the UK.

'Debt and misery'

The last Labour government relaxed the gambling laws, allowing bookmakers to start installing them.

Fixed odds betting terminals

  • Fixed odds betting terminals were launched in 1999 after then chancellor Gordon Brown scrapped tax on individual bets in favour of taxing bookmakers' profits
  • High stakes casino-style gambling is banned from High Streets but fixed odds betting terminals used remote servers so that the gaming was not taking place on the premises
  • After the 2005 Gambling Act, fixed odds betting terminals were given legal backing and put under the same regulatory framework as fruit machines
  • They stopped using remote servers but stakes were limited to £100 and terminals to four per betting shop
  • Punters can place a £100 stake every 20 seconds
  • According to the Gambling Commission there are 33,284 fixed-odds betting terminals across the UK
  • The average weekly profit per fixed odds betting terminals in 2012 was £825, up from £760 in 2011, according to the Gambling Commission
  • The number of betting shops in the UK increased from 8,862 in 2009 to 9,031 in 2013. The big three operators have plans to open hundreds of new shops although many independent operators have closed

But the party has accused the gambling industry of exploiting those changes to target poorer parts of the country,

It says fixed-odds betting terminals are acting as a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour and local authorities should be given new powers to deal with "clusters" of shops opening together.

They would also review the number of high-speed, high-stakes fixed-odds betting terminals allowed on bookmakers' premises and would take steps to make the machines less addictive by requiring pop-ups and breaks in play.

Shadow culture minister Clive Efford said the last government had always maintained the machines should be kept under review.

The "world had changed" since they were first licensed, he said, with the online gambling industry now worth more than £2bn.

"These machines are an example of Cameron's Britain - one rule for constituents and another for big business which operate the betting shops," he said.

Another Labour MP, Brian Donohue, said fixed-odds betting terminals had been "likened to cocaine" as they were "absolutely and totally addictive".

Ministers insist that local authorities can already reject applications for new gambling premises and review existing licences.

But Ms Grant acknowledged the growth of the machines was "concerning" and she expected the industry to introduce voluntary player protection measures, such as suspensions in play and automatic alerts when stakes hit a certain level, by March.

She said the government was waiting for the findings of a study into "how [the machines] are used and the real impact on players" before deciding what further action may be needed.

Ed Miliband outside a bookmakers in north London last month Ed Miliband says bookmakers are targeting disadvantaged communities

"There is no green light for these machines. Their future is unresolved pending the research we have started," she told MPs.

Labour, she added, had liberalised gambling laws and accused them of "rank hypocrisy, total cynicism and outright opportunism".

"Labour bought these machines into being and they have the audacity to bring forward a motion blaming the government for any harm caused," she said.

'Working class pursuit'

The gambling industry insists it does not target deprived areas and has introduced a code of conduct for player protection and responsible gaming.

"Betting is a pursuit enjoyed by millions of working class people throughout Britain and we seek to reach the widest audience possible by being present on High Streets," the Association of British Bookmakers said.

"We accept there are concerns about these gaming machines and are always open to a constructive dialogue with politicians about the appropriate powers for local authorities."

It added: "The claims of widespread problem gambling on machines is just not supported by evidence. The industry continues to develop its approach to harm mitigation for the small number of gamblers who do experience problems."

MPs have previously rejected calls from Labour to reduce the maximum stake from £100 to £2 and to cut the top prize from the current £500.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 134.

    128. deadpansean
    So are you seriously blaming government bailing the banks out on the banks?!
    I think they could choose not to.
    Our government and the regulators exposed the society and the national economy to the banks, not the other way round.
    Banker bashing may be popular, but if you let free market take its course we'd be ok. Bailing out the banks is not.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 133.

    It was Labour who allowed gambling ads on TV of course. What's the odds they never get elected again? Oh sorry - they're not taking bets on that one.

  • Comment number 132.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 131.

    How you can blame the absolute stupidity of consumers on the Tories I'll never know.

    Gambling would still be prevalent if this went through. People will still throw their money away. This is another pointless headline grabber that naive people will take in.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 130.

    This from the party that just a few years ago wanted a casino in every town and thought gambling was the way out of the nation's troubles. So, leopards can change their spots, but beware, they are still the same leopards underneath

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 129.

    Just before Xmas I read a story about how these machines were being used for money laundering. If that's the case, I'd have thought HM Revenue & Customs should be calling for these machines to be banned outright, not the Prime Minister of Crawley.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 128.

    123.Cheddy
    1 Minute ago
    120. deadpansean
    Are you comparing gambling to risk taking? If that's the case, opening a shop, invest in your relative's business, banks' mortgage business is also gambling.
    =
    How is it a RISK for the banks?

    When they can socialise all their losses?

    This just means the game is rigged from the start & the ordinary 'joe' hasn't a look in !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 127.

    119 Sally...

    The state owns it, and rents their scam out to the Canadian Teachers' Union, to whom the licence was granted in 1994, 2001, and 2007.

    =

    Yes Camelot has had the license since inception and they have had an extension to this current licence which will prob be their last but the Canadians have only recently purchased Camelot so where are you getting your info from?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 126.

    a fool and his money are soon parted and I know people say they can get addicted to gambling but there is an amount of self control to use here , I used to smoke , addicted in fact I do not smoke now again force of will . if you cannot afford to lose don't gamble it is that simple . no nannying needed and you got bigger things to worry about Ed than someone putting their JSA in a fruit machine .

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 125.

    I dont gamble so it wont directly affect me, but I have seen the effect that gambling addiction can have on a family. It's a marriage and home breaker just like drug or alcohol addiction and can end up with suicide. My personal view would be to ban these machines entirely but I'm sure somebody will find reasons why thats not reasonable or removes somebodys human rights.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 124.

    Stop meddling with Darwin's theory! If people can't understand the clear sign on every machine that says "This machine pays out 80%" (eg), then they fully deserve to be relieved of their money (albeit probably 'our' money, as it will likely be ill-gotten benefit money). The govt should not be protecting people from their own stupidity. The same applies to Wonga et al.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 123.

    120. deadpansean
    Are you comparing gambling to risk taking? If that's the case, opening a shop, invest in your relative's business, banks' mortgage business is also gambling.
    I think you ought to have a better understanding of the issue before you let us see your bigotry.

    This type of high street casino gambling is all about self-control. don't want to lose? don't go in.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 122.

    So the banks can gamble our money, but we can't.

    Seems fair.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 121.

    Come on NHS, declare gambling as an affliction, and they can then give all the addicts a bit less dosh to help wean them off the harder stuff.
    Don't forget that, as ever, this is not the fault of the individual. They should immediatly be given free housing, specilist care, mobility allowance, a part-time job in the afternoons, free holidays for their kids, and free Sky TV and an honarary degree.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 120.

    Just to put things in perspective..

    The largest gambling arena is stocks & shares run by the banks & with the consequence as seen in 2008 of destroying whole countries & pauperising its peoples.

    If there is any form of gambling that MUST be strictly regulated then the one to go for is the one the bankers / traders use.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 119.

    115.123BillyB
    "The lotto was approved/started by government & The National Lottery Commission is responsible for licencing & regulating the lotto but do not own it same was as OFCOM do not own telecoms"
    =
    The state owns it, and rents their scam out to the Canadian Teachers' Union, to whom the licence was granted in 1994, 2001, and 2007.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 118.

    Spike Milligan once called the Heir to the Throne a "Snivelling little git" if I recall, well Spike this is a big one! (Not an Heir to the throne thankfully!)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 117.

    Local county councils should be fully entitled to ban all such gambling activities in their areas, if they so decide.

    In some areas, even lottery sales can be banned, again, where local people make the choice.

    The same applies to advertising on regional TV networks. Let us ban payday loan adverts if the local councils in a TV region agree.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 116.

    21 Cindy Searle

    The gambling industry is vast only because there are the weak minded who don't know when to stop and there are always some do-gooders condoning their behaviour. Basically this is yet another example of too many people with too much time on their hands.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 115.

    109 Sally...

    The lotto was approved/started by government & The National Lottery Commission is responsible for licencing & regulating the lotto but do not own it same was as OFCOM do not own telecoms

    It has always been run and financed by Camelot who are a commercial organisation that are not linked to the government in any way and now Camelot is owned by the Canadian Teachers Pension Fund.

 

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  53.  
    politics@bbc.co.uk @bbcpolitics 14:39: Get involved Nick Eardley BBC News

    The TV debates have generated significant interest among BBC News readers today. There are more than 1,700 comments on our story about David Cameron's TV debates stance. The highest rated is one reader questioning whether The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will come up in the debates (if they happen). You can read more about what TTIP is here. The second asks when we will we stop debating debates and start talking about policy instead. And the third highest rated asks: "Who cares how slick and smarmy they appear, voting should be based on the manifesto not appearances, sharp suits and how photogenic they appear."

    A number of contributors suggest David Cameron should be "empty chaired" if he doesn't want to take part. Other says the debates wouldn't tell us much, so aren't much of a loss. You can add your comments or email us politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. We'll continue to feature your views over the course of the afternoon.

     
  54.  
    14:28: 'UKIP won't win enough seats' The Daily Telegraph

    Earlier, Nigel Farage told Loose Women on ITV that he expects the number of MPs his party has after the election to be in "double figures". On the Telegraph website, James Kirkup argues that the number the party will end up with won't be enough. More here.

     
  55.  
    @daily_politics BBC Daily Politics

    tweets: 'Chaos and confusion' from broadcasters over #ge2015 TV debates, @grantshapps tells @afneil in #bbcdp clip

     
  56.  
    14:16: Cameron demands 'can't be met' New Statesman

    Over on The New Statesman, Stephen Bush is the latest to have his say on the TV debates. The proposal made by David Cameron, he says, appears reasonable at first glance. However, he argues "they're carefully designed to ensure that the Prime Minister's requests can't be met, and to prevent the debates from happening." More here.

     
  57.  
    @jameschappers James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    Tweets: #tvdebates debacle illustrates need for UK equivalent of US Commission on Presidential Debates if they happen in future campaigns

     
  58.  
    13:59: 'Impossible to exclude SNP'

    More on the SNP's strong showing in the opinion polls. Polling expert John Curtice says that given Labour and Conservatives are "virtually neck and neck" at the moment, it looks like it is going to be "impossible after 7 May to form a government without at least the acquiescence of the SNP". What does this mean? Not only has the SNP ruled out making David Cameron prime minister, but their policy demands on matters like Trident and austerity would also be tricky for Labour, he says. This raises questions about how easy it will be for anyone to form a stable government after the election, he adds.

     
  59.  
    13:49: SNP 'tide rising'
    John Curtice

    Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, has been discussing polls that suggested the SNP could win the safest Labour seat in Scotland at the general election. The results largely confirm what many pundits had been saying about the Scottish vote, he says, adding: "The truth is the SNP tide is rising by about 25 points in just about every constituency in Scotland."

     
  60.  
    13:37: Shapps V Powell continued The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Asked how voters will be able to judge Mr Cameron if the debate takes place before the Conservative manifesto is published, Grant Shapps says "people will have a pretty good idea by the end of this month what the different parties want to do". Lucy Powell says Ed Miliband would turn up to the "head-to-head" debate alone, but says he does not want to.

     
  61.  
    13:32: Shapps V Powell The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Back on the TV debates, Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps blames the broadcasters, saying they have had five years to sort out arrangements. But Labour's Lucy Powell David Cameron is being "hypocritical", having advocated debates in the past.

     
  62.  
    13:32: Prof on 2010 TV debates The World at One BBC Radio 4

    On the World at One, professor of political communications Stephen Coleman, of Leeds University, says the last TV debates, in 2010, were "remarkably popular". Two thirds of people surveyed afterwards said they had learned something new, while 87% had discussed them with other people, he says. Prof Coleman says people will not be impressed by David Cameron's "final offer", saying they see it as "kind of part of the constitution now".

     
  63.  
    13:25: Farage: UKIP will win double figures

    How many seats will UKIP win at the election, he is asked at the end of his interview on ITV's Loose Women. Nigel Farage says it will be in double figures

     
  64.  
    13:24: Farage: Selfish politicians

    Asked is it all worth it - getting up at 5am and not getting home before midnight - Nigel Farage says you've got to be fairly selfish to get into politics.

     
  65.  
    13:22: 'Fit as a flea'

    "It is really vile" Mr Farage says of the way some politicians are treated by the media. He says he decided to take some time out at the start of the year, but repeats that he is "fit as a flea". He only spends a few hours in the pub each day, he jokes. But his drinking and smoking are "what I actually do", he adds.

     
  66.  
    13:22: TV debates: The numbers

    Away from the political fallout from David Cameron's TV debates ultimatum, the BBC's head of statistics Anthony Reuben has been looking at other multi-leader contests around the world - and how much time might be left for each person to speak.

    Natalie Bennett, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood
     
  67.  
    13:21: Farage on deals

    UKIP is not going to win the election, but will win a "number of MPs". He suggests the party might be in the same position the Lib Dems were in 2010 and says he'll get a much better deal for his party. Asked if he wants to be deputy prime minister, Mr Farage says on Loose Women it's not what he wants to do.

     
  68.  
    13:20: 'Radically change' politics

    Nigel Farage says his life has been "pretty up and down" since he went to school. He says he wants to "radically change" politics - the gap between the wealthy and the rest is getting bigger every year and he wants to address that.

     
  69.  
    13:19: Pic: Farage on Loose Women
    Nigel Farage

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage has just been asked, tongue-in-cheek, on ITV's Loose Women about his "self esteem issues". That got the biggest laugh from the studio audience so far.

     
  70.  
    13:16: Farage on immigration

    Nigel Farage says he wants to ask David Cameron about immigration and how the Conservative leader thinks it can be controlled without leaving the EU at the TV debates. He tells the ITV programme he wants an end to "unskilled" workers coming to the UK.

     
  71.  
    13:14: Farage on debates

    On Loose Women, Nigel Farage says he believes David Cameron is trying to sabotage the TV debate process.

     
  72.  
    13:04: Farage on Loose Women

    Nigel Farage is on Loose Women on ITV soon. At the moment, they're showing him outside having a cigarette and a coffee. The UKIP leader has already tweeted to say he is more nervous than normal.

     
  73.  
    12:59: Grant Shapps on debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The interview with Tory chairman Grant Shapps on the TV debates is up on our website now. You can watch it here.

     
  74.  
    12:53: Cameron's 'shrewd politics' The Daily Telegraph

    Over on The Daily Telegraph, Rupert Myers has also been analysing the TV debates fall-out. He says David Cameron's decision to only agree to one debate is "shrewd politics". He writes: "Right now, perhaps the greatest electoral asset the Conservatives have is the gulf of public respect and confidence which exists between Cameron and Miliband. A series of TV debates would imperil that advantage."

     
  75.  
    12:49: Broadcasters have 'messed up' The Spectator

    David Cameron's communications director Craig Oliver criticised the broadcasters "deeply unsatisfactory process" for organising the pre-election TV debates in his letter last night. Today, Isabel Hardman has written a piece for The Spectator saying he has a point. She writes: "Though the prime minister is ducking out of them for the selfish reasons outlined here, the blame must ultimately lie with the broadcasters for making it possible for him to do so. They have managed to mess up at every stage of the process."

     
  76.  
    @Nigel_Farage Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

    tweets: I'm about to go on @loosewomen. Slightly more nervous about this panel than I usually am!

     
  77.  
    @BBCWorldatOne World at One

    tweets: Is the PM "running scared" or "unblocking the logjam"? We'll talk TV debates with @grantshapps & @LucyMPowell #wato

     
  78.  
    12:37: Campaigning and babies
    David Cameron

    David Cameron was speaking just now about TV debates during a visit to promote housebuilding policies. It was also a first for Politics Live - the first chance to use a fresh pic of a politician cooing over a baby. We're pretty sure there'll be plenty more to come over the weeks ahead.

     
  79.  
    12:35: Paul Flynn on 'worst ever' PMQs Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Daily politics

    Labour MP Paul Flynn said yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions was "the worst ever" and suggested scrapping the weekly session. He tells Daily Politics there is nothing new about prime ministers not answering questions, but says there is often no connection between the question and the answer now. It drags politics into "further disrepute", Mr Flynn says. He doesn't believed the session can now be reformed and wants a whole new system. Andrew Percy says it's a "pretty unedifying" spectacle but that it serves a purpose, particularly for constituency issues.

     
  80.  
    12:32: Lord Adonis on Scotland

    The Daily Politics is now discussing Labour in Scotland and recent polls suggesting the party could lose most of its seats. Lord Adonis says there is a long way to go in the campaign, telling the programme it is clear that opinion in Scotland is "volatile". Jim Murphy is doing a great job of re-energising the party, he adds. He won't be drawn on whether Labour should rule out of a deal with the SNP before the election.

     
  81.  
    12:31: Polly Toynbee on debates The Guardian

    If Miliband is so weak, why is Cameron so afraid of debating with him? That's the question Polly Toynbee is asking over on the Guardian site today. You can read her thoughts here.

     
  82.  
    @loosewomen Loose Women

    tweets: On today's show: @UKIP leader @Nigel_Farage takes on our women, plus comedian @RealMattLucas will be joining us too! #Elections2015

     
  83.  
    12:20: 'Host debates anyway' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Finally on TV debates on Daily Politics, Labour peer Lord Adonis says the broadcasters should go ahead regardless of David Cameron's views. He suggests the prime minister will be forced to take part if that happens.

     
  84.  
    12:19: 'Workable plan' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The prime minister's debate plan is "completely workable", says Grant Shapps. Labour peer Lord Adonis says most members of the public think the 2010 debates changed things in terms of TV debates becoming a fixture of UK elections. "To turn the clock back" was a "disservice" to the public, he adds.

     
  85.  
    12:19: Shapps on debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    We've run out of time, Grant Shapps says, to hold the debates as planned by the broadcasters. Let's get the parties in and have a debate just before the election campaign proper, he adds. And he denies the claim his party wanted to avoid the debates at all costs.

     
  86.  
    12:17: Cameron on debates
    David Cameron

    If the debates are held during the campaign people won't talk about anything else - such as the issues that matter, Mr Cameron says. He adds that he has said for the past three years that the debates should take place before the campaign proper begins.

     
  87.  
    12:14: Breaking News

    David Cameron says he wants there to be a TV debate. He says that rather than trying to avoid a debate, he is trying to "unblock the logjam" that the "broadcasters helped to create", so "let's get on, let's have the debate that matters the most". By putting this proposal forward, he says, "we'll actually see one take place".

     
  88.  
    12:11: Shapps on debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Grant Shapps

    Grant Shapps says the approach to debates has been messy. The debates at the last election sucked the life out of the campaign, he adds. There is still no clear sense of what broadcasters want, the Tory chairman adds.

     
  89.  
    12:09: 'Chaos and confusion' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, says there has been "chaos and confusion" over TV debates. He says "lots of people" haven't accepted the proposals.

     
  90.  
    12:05: Ed Miliband on Scotland

    During his earlier interview Mr Miliband was also asked about Scotland and polling which shows his party could lose a number of previously safe seats. The Labour leader said "the fight is on" in Scotland. He added: "I hope people who want to see the back of the Conservatives in Scotland will vote Labour."

     
  91.  
    12:04: Scottish FMQs

    In Scotland, First Minister's questions is under way. Follow it here.

     
  92.  
    11:53: Miliband: Cameron 'running away'
    Ed Miliband

    A bit more from Ed Miliband. He says it is "clear David Cameron is ducking the [head-to-head] debate". He adds: "He should stop ducking and weaving and name the date".

    Mr Miliband says he will take part in the seven leader debate, but continues: "We also need the debate between me and David Cameron". He says he is open to debate the prime minister at any time, in any place. And he adds that the public will no tolerate Mr Cameron "running away".

    On the possibility of a one-on-one debate with Nick Clegg, as suggested by Lord Ashdown, Mr Miliband says it is up to broadcasters.

     
  93.  
    11:47: Breaking News

    Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of "cowering from the public" over the TV debates. The Labour leader says the British public "deserves" the debate. Mr Miliband says he is ready to debate "any time, any place, anywhere - he should stop ducking and weaving".

     
  94.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

    tweets: Ed Miliband accuses PM of "cowering from the public" over #tvdebates

     
  95.  
    Get involved 11:39: Politics Live readers on the TV debates

    Some more comments from Politics Live readers on the TV debates

    No meaningful mass media debate between the main party leaders? Just another example of politicians' disrespect for the population at large. They all think that the ONLY moment of accountability is at the ballot box and violently object to any other forum (unless it`s in their own particular interest).

    John Hyland

    Am I the only one who would be thankful if no debates took place at all? Televised Punch and Judy Politics can be seen every day on the news and in particular at Wednesday's Prime Ministers Questions. This is not informative nor even remotely entertaining.

    David Parker

    The problem is, the Conservative party have backed themselves into a corner. They have been banging on for the last few years how weak a candidate Ed Miliband has been and it's come back to haunt them.

    Expectations of Ed are so low, even an even debate would be a landslide victory for the Labour Party. From the Conservative point of view, it doesn't really make sense to give Labour the platform, where the best they could do is break even.

    Nicholas Williams

    It seems unlikely that any of the party leaders will win a majority in May. They are going to have to work together for the common good of an electorate tired of their silly and destructive adversarial politics.

    Let's make a reality TV show instead. It might be interesting if all the party leaders were shut in a plush stately home with plenty of TV cameras and given a task or do - agree a plan to build an environmentally sustainable economy in the UK would be a good one. There are many more tasks like that to be tackled.

    It would be tempting to make them stay in there until they agreed. In the real world we all need politicians to work together for the common good - something else they would have to agree on.

    It might even make good television. It is what Parliament needs to become after 7 May.

    Simon Court

     
  96.  
    @daily_politics BBC Daily Politics

    tweets: 'Britain now gives away an eye-watering £12bn a year' in foreign aid, says @StanburySteven in his film for Thu #bbcdp

     
  97.  
    11:37: TV debates: Lessons from history Brian Wheeler Political reporter
    John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960

    Nothing gets TV executives salivating - and political leaders quaking - like a live televised debate. Beneath the glare of the studio lights, a politician is at his most exposed. One stumble, a flash of anger, an inappropriate joke, a memory lapse or just a failure to bring your "A Game", and the whole shooting match can be over. The fate of nations sometimes hang in the balance. But the lessons are still there to be learned....

     
  98.  
    11:33: Where do we stand on the TV debates?

    Here's what the main players are saying:

    • David Cameron will only take part in one debate, his communications chief Craig Oliver has said. That debate must feature at least seven leaders and must be held this month. Mr Craig also criticised the "deeply unsatisfactory process" of organising the debates
    • Labour aren't happy. Alastair Campbell has accused Mr Cameron of making "pathetic excuses" to avoid the debates, which he says the prime minister is scared of losing
    • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has offered to take Mr Cameron's place in the one-on-one debates. He says he would be happy to defend the government's record
    • But Lucy Powell, vice chair of Labour's election campaign, says the head-to-head should be between those who could be prime minister after 7 May
    • SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon says the prime minister is "clearly running scared of having to answer for his government's record of failure and incompetence"
    • A UKIP spokesman says Mr Cameron is "acting chicken"
    • Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says Mr Cameron's behaviour is "unacceptable and arrogant"
    • The Democratic Unionist Party says broadcaster have made a "complete and utter mess" of plans to hold the debates
    • Publically, the broadcasters have said very little. But privately, they seem determined not to buckle, says our assistant political editor Norman Smith
     
  99.  
    11:27: No 10's briefing for political reporters Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    On TV debates the PM's spokesman referred all questions back to Director of Communications Craig Oliver's letter of last night. Asked if David Cameron was running scared the spokesman said "that is not a premise I would accept".

     
  100.  
    11:23: Shapps on Daily Politics Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn are joined by former Labour minister Andrew Adonis as guest of the day. Conservative chairman Grant Shapps will be talking TV debates. MPs Paul Flynn and Andrew Percy will debate whether PMQs should be abolished, while a film from Giles Dilnot looks at civilian use of drones after a parliamentary report on the issue. And they will be looking at party names after the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party was told by the Electoral Commission that its moniker was "describing women as a sexual object in a demeaning way and would cause offence if it were to appear on ballot paper". You can watch the programme live from 1200-1300, or later, on the Live Coverage tab on this page (if you're reading this on the BBC app, to watch the it live you have to click here and open the page in a browser)

     

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