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Summary

  1. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg each faced the audience in a Question Time special
  2. Mr Miliband rules out a Labour coalition or a deal with SNP, while Nicola Sturgeon says SNP MPs will have 'big clout'
  3. The prime minister says he has no plans to cut child benefit or tax credits, despite Lib Dem claims
  4. Mr Clegg says he's not sorry for his "brave and plucky" decision to enter coalition
  5. Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood hints at a deal with Labour, while UKIP's Nigel Farage says an EU referendum defeat wouldn't 'kill' his party
  6. There are seven days left until the general election

Live Reporting

By Kristiina Cooper, Tim Fenton, Andy McFarlane and Andree Massiah

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Before we say goodnight....

    A quick summary of the day's election news:

    David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg took turns to face the audience during a Question Time special. These were the highlights:

    • Ed Miliband emphatically ruled out a Labour coalition or deal with the SNP
    • David Cameron said he rejected plans to cut child benefit, despite claims made by the Lib Dems
    • Nick Clegg said he was not sorry for his "brave and plucky" decision to enter a coalition
    • Commentators didn't think there was a game-changing moment but everyone seemed to think the audience was the winner
    • The other party leaders appeared in TV question and answer sessions. UKIP's Nigel Farage said a defeat in an EU referendum wouldn't "kill" his party. Meanwhile, the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party would have a "big influence" at Westminster
    • And Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood hinted at a deal with Labour - even if Ed Miliband refused to work with the SNP
  2. Friday's Independent

    Independent
  3. 'Once the stocks... now Question Time'

    James Landale

    Deputy political editor

    "In the old days, there were the stocks and the pillory. Today we have BBC Question Time. Again and again the audience voiced the lack of trust that they and many others have for their political leaders.

    "David Cameron was accused of deceiving the public over benefit cuts. Ed Miliband was accused of lying over Labour's possible future dealings with the SNP. Nick Clegg was asked why anyone should believe him after breaking his promise on student fees.

    Quote Message: How could they trust Labour on the economy, the Tories on health, the Lib Dems on education? And on it went."

    "The age of deference is long gone. But so too is the respect that politicians once had. In an election campaign that has seen the parties exchanging new policies almost everyday, the studio audience revealed just how few promises are actually believed.

    "If the political world is to regain that trust, then much will have to change after the election, regardless of who wins."

  4. And there's more...

    Phew, we hope you've had time to boil the kettle - or crack open a cold one. The politics programming just keeps on rolling on tonight.

    This Week is under way on BBC1, with Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson on the sofa to enjoy presenter Andrew Neil's mirth at the prime minister's Aston Villa/West Ham "brain fade" earlier in the week.

    Viewers in Wales, of course, will be enjoying Nigel Farage's Ask the Leader session.

  5. And finally, the independence question

    The question and answer session with Leanne Wood closed with a question about Welsh independence. The Plaid Cymru leader said she "supports Wales becoming an independent country". But she does not think it would be sensible to hold referendum now because Wales "does not have the infrastructure" to support independence.

    Pressed on when Welsh independence might occur, she replied that she hoped it would be during her "political lifetime". She was reluctant to state how many years away that was but eventually settled on 30 as the "outer limit".

  6. Farage signs off

    Host Jo Coburn has to cut the UKIP leader short, as the Nigel Farage's Ask the Leader session draws to an end. But Mr Farage carries on debating with the audience regardless. Moments earlier, he'd been criticised for his smoking habit. "We all have our sins," he replied.

  7. Farage on defence

    On the subject of defence, Mr Farage says Tony Blair was “stupid” to follow George W Bush into the Iraq War, while David Cameron was “mad” to bomb Libya.

    However, he likens a strong defence force to an insurance policy. “You probably won't have a fire this year, but if you do, you'll probably want some insurance,” he suggests.

  8. EU 'benefits Wales'

    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood is "not opposed" to a referendum on the EU but says Wales is a "beneficiary" from membership. She says jobs in Wales are reliant on trade with other EU countries and that Wales receives structural funds because of the poverty levels in the country.

    Quote Message: Being a member of the EU is in Wales's best interests."
  9. Wood recalls 'Thatcher's pit closures'

    Miners striking in the Rhondda

    The Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood, promises she wouldn't do any deal that propped up a Conservative government. She says most people in Wales would find that "unforgiveable".

    "I come form the valley where people have very,very strong views about the Tories going back to the days when Thatcher closed the pits."

  10. More from Natalie Bennett

    The Green Party leader complains that the main parties would all renew the Trident nuclear weapons system, spending millions of pounds on a "cold war relic" while public services "are being slashed".

    "None of these parties can be trusted to take bold actions to heal our planet like cutting fares on public transport or banning fracking," she says.

    Natalie Bennett
    Quote Message: The Green Party gives a voice to the many people watching tonight's show who are desperate for an alternative to business-as-usual in Parliament."
  11. Farage on immigration

    Asked whether it’s wrong to blame immigration for all the UK’s problems, Mr Farage declares he’s “pro-immigration”. But he clarifies: “I’m pro-controlled immigration.”

    "I’m not blaming immigrants for anything," he says, but he argues that the level of immigration in recent years has put pressure on housing, schools and health services.

  12. Friday's i

    i
  13. 'Business as usual'

    The Green Party's verdict

    Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett says tonight's programme was a clear example of why a real alternative was needed in British politics.

    "Though the three leaders may sound different the fact is that they all sign up to many facets of business-as-usual politics", she said. "Each of the parties on show tonight will continue with the vicious austerity programme that’s harmed so many in this country."

  14. Conservative criticism of the Labour Party

    The Conservative Party tweets:

  15. Leanne Wood: 'more tax inspectors'

    The 'Ask Leanne Wood' programme, recorded earlier, is now being broadcast on BBC Wales - or watch on the Live Coverage tab above. The Plaid Cymru leader is proposing more investment in public services and getting "more money paid into the tax pot". She says that should be achieved by tackling tax avoidance and evasion. She suggests employing more inspectors so tax dodgers could be "investigated and brought to book".

    leanne wood and bethany
  16. On HSBC

    Asked whether HSBC bank was considering moving its HQ away from the UK because of doubts over the country’s EU membership, Mr Farage replies: “HSBC are leaving because they see a banking regime and a regulatory regime that makes London too expensive to do business."

  17. Farage on Europe

    The broadcast of Nigel Farage’s Ask the Leader event is under way in England, with the UKIP leader being asked whether an “exit from Europe” would be damaging for the economy.

    “We’re not exiting Europe. I love Europe,” he replies. But he goes on to say that the European Union has “hijacked” the continental project and that he wants an “amicable divorce” to be followed up by a free-trade agreement.

    Nigel Farage faces his audience
    Quote Message: We're their biggest marketplace so they need us more than we need them."
  18. Friday's Mirror

    Mirror
  19. Friday's Daily Mail

    Daily Mail
  20. Coming up on This Week

    And the reaction to that Question Time special continues with Andrew Neil and the This Week panel of Alan Johnson, Miranda Green and Michael Portillo, coming up live on BBC1 at 23:20 BST (a bit later in Wales). Also on the programme are satirist Jolyon Rubinstein and the writer and director of Channel 4 satirical comedy Ballot Monkeys, Andy Hamilton.

    This Week graphic
  21. Friday's Telegraph

    Telegraph
  22. Plaid Cymru / Labour deal?

    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood could enter into a deal to put Labour in power - even if the SNP was not involved, the Welsh Ask the Leader broadcast will hear.

    Leanne Wood refused to rule out that option as she answered questions from voters for a BBC TV special in Cardiff - to be broadcast in Wales at 22:45 BST.

    She said she would talk to Ed Miliband if she could secure a better deal for Wales.

    Ms Wood also said it was highly irresponsible of the Labour leader to rule out a deal with the SNP, saying it could open the door to a Conservative government.

  23. Farage on referendum

    While the programme hasn't been broadcast yet, our report offers a flavour of Nigel Farage's performance during his Ask the Leader session. It saw him insisting that a referendum vote to stay in the EU would not make UKIP "redundant".

    Scots rejected independence, yet the SNP has gained support, Mr Farage said, pointing out that his rivals had hitherto failed to deliver a referendum.

    Nigel Farage during his question and answer session

    Both sides in any referendum campaign must be equally funded, while "broadcasters must have an ombudsman to make sure there is a proper, even debate", Mr Farage said.

    Earlier, heaccused the BBC of biastowards the “political establishment” in the coverage of this election campaign.

  24. Friday's Times

    Times
  25. Rave reviews for the audience

    The political editor of the Sunday Times tweets:

  26. Stumble or dodge?

    Our Political Editor

    Nick Robinson

    Political editor

    Ed Miliband stumbles

    Will tonight's Question Time be remembered as the moment Ed Miliband stumbled or David Cameron dodged? Nick Robinson offers his verdict.

  27. See more leaders quizzed

    SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon will be winding down after her Ask the Leader session, broadcast live in Scotland. However, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and UKIP leader Nigel Farage recorded half-hour programmes earlier. Ask Leanne Wood will be broadcast on BBC1 in Wales at 22:45 BST, at the same time as Ask Nigel Farage will be broadcast on BBC1 in England. The programme featuring the UKIP leader goes out in Wales at 23:10 BST.

  28. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

  29. Ed Corleone?

    Editor of Labour List tweets:

  30. Lib Dem depictions of Miliband & Cameron

    The Liberal Democrats tweets:

  31. The Liberal Democrats tweet:

  32. Miliband 'honest'

    Lucy Powell, Labour campaign manager, says she is very pleased with the way Ed Miliband dealt with tough questions. "He answered honestly and straightforwardly," she says. "He showed strength but also humour and humility." It was a shame, she argues, that there hadn't been a head-to-head debate between the Labour and Conservative leaders.

  33. No game-changer?

    David Cowling, editor BBC Political Research, has been digesting the day's polls.

    He says: "ComRes, having registered Conservative leads in its three earlier campaign polls, puts the Tories neck and neck with Labour on 35% each this time. YouGov suggests a one-point Conservative lead (35% versus 34%).

    "However, the drama came with MORI’s five-point Conservative lead – 35% as against 30% for Labour. Some interest was aroused when its entrails revealed 63% of 2010 Labour voters remaining loyal to the party, compared with much higher numbers in other polls. A breakthrough for the Conservative campaign or a detail that provokes doubt about the findings? I suspect the latter but we shall see.

    "The instant ICM poll assessing the performances of the three leaders on Question Time suggests 44% thought David Cameron had come out on top, compared with 38% who nominated Ed Miliband and 19% Nick Clegg.

    Quote Message: No game-changing campaign moment here it seems. Oh well, back to the national polls we go."
  34. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Ben Steven:

    No straight answers from Nicola Sturgeon again. She continues to blame others rather than take responsibility herself.

  35. Tough questioning

    BBC Political Correspondent

  36. Clegg 'in touch'

    Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown believes Nick Clegg has demonstrated why he deserves a place in government. His performance, he argues, shows why he is the man to give the country stability in uncertain times.

    Quote Message: In touch with the audience, absolutely comfortable with himself, giving the most straightforward answers, really connecting."
  37. SNP priorities

    With Nicola Sturgeon facing the audience, here's a reminder of the Scottish National Party's key pledges.

    Graphic
  38. ‘Record NHS spending’

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Ms Sturgeon says health spending in Scotland and NHS staff numbers have reached record levels since the SNP came to power. “But I am not the kind of politician to stand here and say ‘job done’. We always need to work to improve our health service," she adds.

  39. What about the Greens?

    The Greens weren't involved in the debate but the Green Party's Jillian Creasy is in the spin-room. She says there wasn't much to separate the three party leaders as they all talked about "cuts and austerity". She was much more complimentary about the audience though, calling them "great".

  40. Job creation

    Reality Check

    When the PM was on stage a while back, he said two million jobs had been created since the last election. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics said that there were around 31.05 million employed people in the UK. At the time of the last election there were around 29.05 million people in work.

    So that’s an increase of two million. However, this figure looks at the number of people in work, which isn’t quite the same as the number of jobs. For example, some people may have more than one job. There aren’t any official statistics on the number of jobs created.

  41. 'Heading for penalties'

    Joe Twyman, head of political research at the polling firm YouGov, concludes that the debate is a "score draw" and the parties are "heading for penalties".

  42. Another referendum?

    In Glasgow, the Scottish First Minister is challenged on the SNP’s previous line that last year’s Scottish independence referendum was a once-in-a-generation vote.

    “If you (the people of Scotland) want it to be once in 20 lifetimes, that’s what will happen. I can’t impose a referendum on Scotland against its will.”

  43. Sturgeon and Scotland

    BBC News Scotland Correspondent tweets:

  44. 'Turbo-charged' PM

    After the programme, Conservative Chancellor George Osborne has high praise for his party leader. "David Cameron is out there," he says, "turbo-charged on the election campaign trail".

    Quote Message: He is winning votes out there, for Britain's future and for a plan that's going to deliver security at every stage of people's lives."
  45. Poll findings

    A Guardian/ICM poll has David Cameron as the winner on 44%, with Ed Miliband on 38%. Sky political editor Faisal Islam reckons Mr Cameron gave his best performance of these debates. He notes that Mr Miliband got his message out with a "cast iron" ruling out of a Labour/SNP coalition.

  46. Some venue...

    Leeds Town Hall looking magnificent earlier

    David Cameron on stage at Leeds Town Hall
  47. Sturgeon on Miliband

    BBC News reporter tweets

  48. 'Same old tired politicians'

    UKIP's Paul Nuttall is in the Leeds spin room talking to Adam Boulton from Sky News. He doesn't think any of the party leaders who've appeared in broadcasts so far will see any "bounce in the polls" as a result of the debate. He reckons we saw the "same old tired politicians".

  49. SNP in a coalition?

    “I have never ruled anything out," says Ms Sturgeon. "But I have also said, and before Ed Miliband by the way, the most likely outcome is where we are supporting a Labour minority government on an issue-by-issue basis.”

  50. Sturgeon's 'end to austerity’

    In Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon tells her audience: “I am proposing real term spending increases over the lifetime of this Parliament."

  51. Beyond belief

    The post-match analysis gets under way with William Hague seizing on Ed Miliband's remark that he didn't think the Labour government had overspent. Mr Hague exclaims:

    Quote Message: It's beyond belief. What planet is he living on?"
  52. Working abroad

    Reality Check

    We'll keep on picking over some of those claims made by the party leaders. Nick Clegg says that roughly the same number of citizens of other EU states are living and working in the UK as there are UK citizens living and working elsewhere in the EU.

    The answer to this parliamentary question puts the number of UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU in 2010 at 2.2 million. From the 2011 Census we know that there were 2.3 million people in the UK with "other EU" passports.

  53. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Brian Shepherd:

    The problem with this election is that anyone of the party leaders could lead each other's parties as they all sound the same.

  54. In the spin-room

    Back in Leeds, journalists and politicians tumble into the spin room. Chancellor George Osborne is there as well as former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown.

  55. 'Big clout'

    Ms Sturgeon is asked: "Who do you think would be more effective in the next Westminster parliament - a Scottish Labour cabinet minister or an SNP backbencher?"

    She says the SNP would have “big influence and big clout”.

    Nicola Sturgeon at the BBC's Ask the Leader event
  56. Now the SNP leader's turn...

    Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon is about to take her first question from the audience at BBC Scotland’s Glasgow HQ as part of tonight’s leaders’ debate.

  57. I've got bags of energy

    Nick Clegg's session comes to a close with a question from David Dimbleby. Would Mr Clegg stay on as leader if his party couldn't form a coalition? Mr Clegg replies that he wants to carry on.

    Quote Message: I'm 48. I've got bags of energy."
  58. Time's nearly up

    Nick Clegg on stage
  59. Nuclear submarine costs

    Graph showing cost of Trident replacement
  60. Three submarines 'will do'

    Asked about a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile system, Mr Clegg says he believes Britain should remain a nuclear power but that the UK can "step down the nuclear ladder". Three submarines will suffice, he argues.

  61. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Darren Fitzpatrick:

    I do quite like Nick Clegg, but I have to say David Cameron has looked the most assured by a margin tonight. His best performance yet.

  62. Behind the scenes

    Sky News Tonight Presenter tweets:

  63. Clegg on EU referendum

    Mr Clegg ridicules the Conservatives for their position on Europe, suggesting that they seem to change their minds fairly regularly. He says: "I don't know what they're going to think on Europe next Tuesday." Mr Clegg adds that there should be a referendum on the EU - but only when there are plans to give over new powers to Brussels.

  64. Audience reaction to Clegg

    BBC Economics Editor

  65. The EU and immigration

    Challenged on freedom of movement within the EU, Mr Clegg says a problem emerged when it became "freedom to claim". The coalition government had changed the law to deal with that. It shouldn't be forgotten, he said, that as many British people were living and working in the EU, as EU people were working in the UK.

  66. Clegg the person

    The Sun's Whitehall Correspondent tweets:

  67. 'I will never apologise' for coalition

    There's an impassioned moment for Nick Clegg when he defends his decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives. He declares: "I will never apologise....for having stepped up to the plate in a plucky and brave way."

    A member of the audience wonders whether on 8 May, the first person he speaks to will be the party leader with the most seats. Mr Clegg says the party with the most seats has the right to make "the first move".

  68. That 'darkened room'

    The Lib Dem leader says that if either David Cameron or Ed Miliband think they are going to win a majority "they need to go and lie down in the darkened room". (See earlier entries about coalition talks.) Touche.

  69. Reaching out to voters?

    Nick Clegg, viewed from behind the stage
  70. A plan B?

    One member of the audience asks if the Lib Dem leader has plans for a new job if things don't go his way after the election, and his party ends up an "irrelevance". Nick Clegg has a short answer: "No I don't."

  71. 'Shortchanging the children'

    Mr Clegg says the Conservatives and Labour Party would both cut the amount of money going into schools, colleges and nurses. He declares that the Lib Dems would not go into any coalition with a party planning to reduce education spending, what he calls "shortchanging the little children of today".

  72. On national debt

    Mr Clegg says the next government has to deal with the national debt but has to do so fairly. The Conservative plan, he says, balances the books but unfairly. Labour, he asserts, is offering no timetable or detail on how it plans to deal with the debt.

  73. On welfare cuts

    Reality Check

    Nick Clegg says the £12bn of welfare cuts that the Conservatives are planning is the "equivalent of £1,500 off eight million of the most vulnerable families". We're not arguing with his sums, but not sure where the eight million households figure comes from.

  74. Who are you going to hurt?

    Bethany Cowling asks Nick Clegg about "leaking details" the Lib Dems were privy to as part of a coalition. He retorts that they were "hardly leaked". He says that unless the Conservatives "come clean" on welfare cuts "we can only assume" they're looking at the plans they floated in government. He argues the Conservatives must say who they're going to hurt.

  75. On Nick Clegg

    Andy Hunt tweets:

  76. On the spot

    Mr Clegg faces his questioners

    Nick Clegg faces the audience
  77. Fees 'now fairer'

    Mr Clegg defends the current system of university tuition fees. It is, he says, "much, much fairer" than the system left by the last government.

  78. Exit slip?

    Eagle-eyed viewers might have spotted Ed Miliband narrowly avoiding a tumble as he left the stage.

    Ed Miliband leaves the stage
  79. 'Easy way to start'

    It's now Nick Clegg's turn. First up is a question on breaking his promises on tuition fees. Mr Clegg jokes: "A nice easy way to start!" He continues by saying that in life you can't do everything you want and he asks that people at least give him credit for what he has done.

  80. Paddy Ashdown 'non-reaction'

    BBC Political Correspondent tweets:

  81. Immigration targets

    Mr Miliband rounds off by refusing to set a target for immigration. He says it's not the right thing to pluck a figure out of the air when he can't guarantee delivery. He wants to be the first prime minister to "under-promise and over-deliver".

  82. Zero-hours contracts

    Chris Magee, who runs a tourism business, says a crackdown on zero-hours contracts - a Labour policy - would stop him growing his organisation. Mr Miliband replies that it is not right to "base the future of our economy" on people not knowing, from one day to the next, what they'll take home in pay. And he says he couldn't live on one.

  83. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Andrew Baxter:

    Good to see Ed getting a hard time from a very good audience, Cameron far more impressive tonight.

  84. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Scott Malone:

    Ed started off a bit shaky but he is starting to look strong on the stage now. It surprises me how he is responding head on. I would put him ahead of David tonight.

  85. Benefit spending

    Reality Check

    Host David Dimbleby referred to the IFS comments made about Labour’s plans for benefit spending earlier this week. "Despite being used as examples of 'tough choices', Labour proposals to remove winter fuel payments from higher-rate taxpaying pensioners, and to limit cash increases in child benefit to 1% this year and next would save next to nothing," it said.

  86. 'Low-pay capital'

    The UK is the "low pay capital of Europe", Mr Miliband says, adding that it has to be fixed.

  87. Making a point

    Ed Miliband gesticulates
  88. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Tim Seaman:

    We are watching the Leaders debate and are very surprised that the other leaders were obviously able to hear the previous Leaders answers. This appears to give the later leaders a clear advantage. Why were they not kept in a sound-proof booth? This appears a basic mistake by the BBC.

  89. Wages not keeping up?

    Reality Check

    Ed Miliband says that wages have not been keeping up with bills for the last five years. A graph on thisONS bulletinshows that inflation has been higher than earnings for most, but not quite all, of the last five years.

  90. 'Low-pay economy'

    Mr Miliband is asked whether a vote for Labour is "carte blanche" for the welfare bill to "skyrocket". He states that he believes in a welfare system "with responsibility". He says the housing benefit bill for people in work has risen considerably. He blames that on the economy being built on low pay and on the lack of homes.

  91. Coalition partners

    Prashant tweets:

  92. Manifestos and majority

    Challenged again on coalitions, Mr Miliband says: "If I am prime minister I am going to seek to implement all of my manifesto." He accepts that he is "not guaranteed a majority".

  93. 'I have to level with you'

    Mr Miliband says he doesn't want to spend all his energy arguing over whether to leave the EU.

    "I have to level with you," he says. He doesn't think "the right thing to do" is to spend two years debating the UK's membership of the EU.

  94. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    James Paterson:

    Great debate tonight. I think the format is better than the other debates. The audience is able to speak out strongly and have a real say to the leaders.

  95. 'No dark rooms for me'

    "I'm not going to start bartering away my manifesto," says the Labour leader. Like Mr Cameron, he is aiming for an overall majority. On the possibility of going into a dark room with Nick Clegg, he adds: "I don't like the sound of that at all."

  96. Stating his case

    Ed Miliband addressing the audience
  97. Playing politics

    Lots of talk about coalitions tonight.

    What will party leaders face if no-one wins outright? Try putting together a Parliamentary majority with our coalition builder game.

    Graphic
  98. Miliband and power

    Evening Standard Deputy Editor tweets:

  99. No 'sacrifice' of country's unity

    Ed Miliband says there would not be a Labour government if it meant deals or a coalition with the SNP.

    In his strongest rejection of a coalition to date, he says: "We're not going to do a deal with the SNP. If it meant we weren't going to be in government then so be it. I'm not going to sacrifice the unity of the country."

  100. More on spending

    "I think we can balance the books without sacrificing our public services," says Mr Miliband. After Mr Cameron's answers earlier, he says, child tax credits and child benefit are now "on the ballot paper".

  101. Miliband and the economy

    BBC News Political Editor tweets:

  102. 'You are lying'

    That was a strong accusation levelled at Ed Miliband. His questioner says Labour spent for 13 years and sold off gold on the cheap.

    Ed Miliband says what they didn't do is build up other industries.

  103. Labour spending

    BBC Newsnight Political Editor tweets:

  104. On Labour spending

    Mr Miliband says he does not accept that the last Labour government overspent but adds that "spending's got to fall. That's why we will reduce spending". He's accused of '"lying" about Labour's previous record by an audience member.

  105. Balancing the books

    Reality Check

    Ed Miliband says he's going to reduce the deficit every year and balance the books. It's important to stress that what he means by balancing the books is not the same as what Mr Cameron means.

    Labour wants to balance the current deficit, which means it could borrow money to invest. The Conservatives are not prepared to borrow for investment either and want an overall surplus by the end of the next parliament.

  106. Miliband on that note

    First question for Ed Miliband is how can people trust a Labour party that made a joke about leaving the Treasury with no money? The Labour leader admits the last Labour government made a mistake on banking regulation. "We've learnt that lesson," he says. Ed Balls, he adds, takes getting the deficit down "incredibly seriously".

  107. Ed Miliband's up...

    The Labour leader faces the audience.

    Ed Miliband takes the stage
  108. 'Decisive outcome'

    Finishing his time on stage, Mr Cameron calls for a "decisive outcome" to the election and promises a referendum on whether to stay in a reformed EU. He says the British people "deserve" it.

    He wants "everyone holding that stubby pencil" in the voting booths to know they would get a referendum if they vote Conservative.

    He ends by declaring that he will "do the right thing for the country".

  109. On coalitions

    Mr Cameron says he's aiming for an overall majority. He doesn't want to have to negotiate away parts of his programme in a "dark room with [Lib Dem leader] Nick Clegg". An in/out referendum on Europe is a "red line".

    "I would not lead a government that did not contain that pledge," he says.

  110. QT audience questions

    Margaret Longstaffe tweets:

  111. European budget

    Reality Check

    David Cameron says he has cut the EU budget.

    Every seven years the EU agrees its long-term budget, the so called Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which is the overall spending ceiling for that seven-year budgetary period.

    The leaders of all EU member states have to unanimously agree on the MFF, which the European Parliament scrutinises and votes on. The EU’s 2014-2020 budget was indeed cut for the first time in the bloc’s history.

    Under the deal, the EU’s budget was cut by either 3.4% or 3.7%, depending on which measure you're looking at. David Cameron led a group of other EU countries in demanding a cut in the EU budget. The other two leaders taking part this evening also supported a cut.

  112. Winning people over?

    David Cameron addresses the audience
  113. A 'moral dimension'?

    A member of the audience asks Mr Cameron to answer these questions with a "moral dimension", saying his answers focus on economics. Mr Cameron replies that helping someone get a job and obtain a house have a "moral dimension".

  114. Migration target

    Mr Cameron says he sticks with a target of below 100,000 for net migration. "I believe that's the right ambition," he says.

  115. The debate moves to immigration...

    Bob Wilson, a firefighter, asks Mr Cameron how he would control immigration if we remain in the EU. The Prime Minister lists four changes he would make:

    • no unemployment benefit for jobseekers from an EU country
    • jobseekers who are still unemployed after six months have to go home
    • you have to work for four years before getting tax credit
    • a ban on sending benefit home
  116. 'Extra nurses'

    Reality Check

    David Cameron says that his government has added 7,000 more nurses to the NHS since the last election. This information comes from the number of “qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff”, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

    The most recent data shows that the number of staff in this category has increased by almost 7,200, which is more than Mr Cameron suggested.

    But, crucially, these figures include more than just nurses. The increase appears much less impressive if we remove midwives and health visitors from the data. On that basis, the number of nurses has gone up by just over 2,000 since May 2010.

  117. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Caroline Rae:

    Why are working people without children who work less than 30 hours not entitled to working tax credits? I have been working on a zero-hours contract since November 2013 and have never been so badly off. Reliant on food banks for at least six months. Please explain how working people are better off.

  118. Youth unemployment

    Reality Check

    David Cameron says that youth unemployment has been plummeting. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics said youth unemployment was 16.1% in the three months to February. This is down from the preceding three months and lower than the same period a year earlier (19.2%). However, it is still higher than the pre-financial crisis low of 13.8% for the three months ending February 2008.

  119. NHS and the economy

    The PM argues: "The NHS grows with a Conservative government...You only have a strong NHS with a strong economy".

  120. 'I don't agree with you, sir'

    Mr Cameron has a difference of opinion with an audience member over the NHS. A man in the audience says: "Anyone with half a brain knows the NHS is not sustainable". The prime minister replies: "I don't agree with you, sir." To which the man responds: "Well, you're wrong."

  121. Tonight's audience

    This graphic shows the make-up of this evening's audience. As the BBC's chief politics adviser, Ric Bailey, says in a blog post: “This means that each party leader faces the same prospect – an audience where one in four supports him, but where the majority does not.”

    Graphic
  122. On the NHS

    Mr Cameron says: "It was always there for me. I will always make sure it is there for other families". One of his big ambitions for the coming five years, he says, is a seven-day NHS.

  123. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Eddie McGinnis:

    After creating so many jobs why has the deficit not fallen with an increase in tax take? Easy, because the jobs are low paid.

  124. On tax cuts

    David Cameron says he wants to cut people's tax, calling tax "the biggest element" of the cost of living. He wants to "stop taxing poor people in this country".

  125. Housing Benefit

    Reality Check

    David Cameron said that when the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition came to power some households were claiming £70,000 to £80,000 in Housing Benefit. A member of the audience asked how many households were claiming that much.

    We can't answer that precisely, but the government released figures under the Freedom of Information Act showing that - of 4.7 million people claiming Housing Benefit in August 2010 - 400 were receiving more than £40,000 a year.

  126. Facing the audience...

    ...and Dimbleby

    David Cameron
  127. Tax pledge

    "I want to put it absolutely beyond doubt...I want (people) to know we are not going to put up VAT, National Insurance or Income Tax," says Mr Cameron.

  128. Food bank figures

    Reality Check

    A few moments ago, an audience member asked about the one million people using food banks. The Trussell Trust, which manages the UK's largest network of food banks, says that three days' food were given out 1,084,604 times in 2014/15, which was a rise of 19% from the previous year.

    But this isn't the same as one million individuals using food banks - some people will turn to a food bank on several occasions.

    In fact, the Trussell Trust says that on average people who used its food banks needed two food bank vouchers a year. If we use this figure for an estimate, then the number of unique users drops to around 500,000. There’s more in our Reality Check.

  129. Why not debate directly?

    The prime minister says Labour's Ed Miliband will say the budget deficit should go on "forever". But an audience member asks why Mr Cameron can't debate with Mr Miliband directly? The PM replies that they debate directly in the House of Commons and that he feels what he's doing now is more "powerful".

  130. Where welfare cash goes

    Here's how that £209.4bn spent on welfare in 2013/14 breaks down: £11.4bn went on child benefit.

    Graphic detailing welfare spending
  131. On food banks

    Asked why a million people in the UK have to rely on food banks, the PM responds: "I don't want anyone to have to rely on a food bank in our country. The most important thing we could do is to get more people into work."

  132. Is the deficit key?

    Benjamin Partridge tweets

  133. And here's that note...

    David Cameron
  134. Cameron produces 'no money left' note

    The prime minister moves the debate to what he says the Conservatives have achieved. He says they have created two million jobs. But David Dimbleby takes him back to the proposals on child benefit. Mr Cameron says he "rejected" the proposals to cut child benefit.

    But the PM shifts the debate again, saying there was no money left when he entered No 10. And he produces the infamous note left by the Labour Treasury Minister Liam Byrne, telling his successor there's no money left.

  135. Conservatives pledges on welfare

    Graphic

    Find out where all the parties stand with our policy guides.

  136. Safety net

    Challenged by an audience member on young people unable to work or stay at home, Mr Cameron says: "Anyone who clearly can't stay at home...we have to make special provision for them and we will."

  137. Welfare savings

    Reality Check

    David Cameron first faces questions about welfare payments. We know that the Conservatives want to save £12bn on welfare but we do not know how that will be done. The BBC's Michael Buchanan has been looking into how difficult that would be.

  138. On child welfare

    David Cameron says he does want to put to bed those rumours about child benefit and tax credits. But he adds that it's "important" to go on reforming welfare. He tells the audience that when he became PM some families were getting up to £90,000 in welfare.

  139. Picture

    Cameron takes his seat

    David Cameron at Question Time
  140. They're off!

    QT Leaders Election Leaders Special

    Conservative Leader David Cameron is first up - his question from the audience: Will he put to bed rumours he plans to cut child tax credits and restrict child benefit to two children?

  141. It's almost time folks!

    Question Time hall

    This is a final call. There's just a couple of minutes left to get the kettle on and make a cuppa (or whatever beverage takes your fancy). Get ready to take your seats - the show is about to begin.

  142. Dead heat?

    Press Association parliamentary editor

  143. Clegg 'taking it in his stride'

    BBC News Channel

    Nick Clegg is taking it all in his stride tonight, reveals Lib Dem party president Tim Farron. It's not quite clear how he knows this, as he says he hasn't actually spoken to the party leader today - but he did send him a text earlier apparently.

    "He has done this before. It's a shame we haven't had more of these in this campaign but you have to put that down to David Cameron chickening out," Mr Farron says.

    What will be Mr Clegg's main message tonight? That the country desperately needs the Lib Dems in the next government, to make Britain fairer while also securing the economic recovery, he replies.

  144. On the way in...

    David Cameron & James Harding

    David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all arrived at Leeds Town Hall for the Question Time Election Leaders Special. They were all escorted into the building by the BBC's Director of News and Current Affairs, James Harding. David Cameron arrived first and he will be first to speak in the debate.

  145. Miliband also feeling confident

    BBC News Channel

    Labour leader Ed Miliband is on second tonight. How's he feeling? I think he's feeling very confident, Labour's shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint tells the BBC. She predicts the leader will confidently set out Labour's plan for Britain.

    Hmm... unsurprisingly there seems to be a lot of confidence in the political air tonight.

    What about the threat of the SNP in Scotland? The choice at this election is between David Cameron or Ed Miliband for prime minister - and only Ed can secure a fairer Britain, Ms Flint responds.

    Challenged to offer more detail on how Labour would balance the books, Ms Flint says the party has said it will cut the deficit every year, and cites plans to cap child benefit and strip the winter fuel allowance from the wealthiest.

  146. PM 'very confident' about tonight

    BBC News Channel

    William Hague

    It's beginning to fill up in the spin room ahead of tonight's leaders' question time. With just half an hour to go, our chief political correspondent Vicki Young has been talking to senior Conservative William Hague.

    Challenged over the party's plans to cut £8bn from welfare in the next parliament, Mr Hague says the PM will be able to give "clear answers" on that, but adds that the party has already given an "enormous amount" of detail on its fiscal plans and has a "track record" on making savings.

    What do you make of Lib Dems leaking a document which they claim details Tory plans to cut child benefit? It's pretty "desperate", he says, adding that the election isn't going the Lib Dems' way.

    Is the prime minister nervous about tonight? "He's very confident. He's put huge energy into the campaign," responds Mr Hague. His focus will be on showing how far the country has come over the past five years since we rescued the economy, he adds.

  147. QT Election Leaders Special

    Coming shortly...

    You can also watch via the Live Coverage tab above, while we'll be bringing you the latest reaction and analysis.

  148. Newsnight Index

    BBC Newsnight Index

    Every evening during the course of the general election campaign, Newsnight is publishing an exclusive graphic illustrating the likely outcome based on a sophisticated forecast model.

    Tonight's shows the Conservatives and SNP with one more seat than yesterday's prediction, both gained at the expense of Labour. No majority in sight, though.

    The Newsnight Index is produced by Professor Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia and his colleagues at electionforecast.co.uk. For details of how the Index is produced, see Newsnight's YouTube video.

    Newsnight Index for 30/4/15
  149. Suspended candidate's reaction

    PA correspondent quotes Richard Garvie

  150. Labour election candidate suspended

    A Labour general election candidate has been suspended by the party after being found guilty of fraud.

    Richard Garvie was convicted at Wellingborough Magistrates' Court after he paid for almost £900 of train tickets using a bank account he knew contained insufficient funds.

    The would-be MP for Wellingborough said he intended to appeal against the verdict and was "quite confident that the paperwork will show that I have not done anything wrong".

    But he conceded that he had been wrong not to inform the party when he was charged with the offence shortly before Christmas and accepted the disciplinary action.

    A full list of candidates can be found on the BBC's constituency page .

  151. Preparing the ground?

    Our chief political correspondent tweets

  152. More media outlets declare their support

    The Economist and the Financial Times are the latest media outlets to declare their allegiances ahead of polling day on 7 May.

    The former is backing the Conservatives - or at least a government led by David Cameron.

    The magazine's Britain editor, Joel Budd, told BBC Radio 4's The World At One earlier: "We think again that a government at least led by David Cameron - if not necessarily a Conservative majority - is the best outcome.

    Labour under Ed Miliband had become "worryingly interventionist" and "extremely statist", he said.

    The FT also backs a Tory-led government, but it has called for tactical voting for the Liberal Democrats in some constituencies to produce a continuation of the 2010 coalition.

    It comes after The Sun came out in favour of the Conservatives, while sister paper The Scottish Sun is supporting the SNP.

  153. An ominous sign?

    BBC political correpondent tweets

  154. Spin room secrets

    Newsnight editor tweets:

    See entry at 14:30 BST on Newsnight Live.

  155. Question Time policing

    Buzzfeed political reporter tweets:

  156. GOD: Election will put 'tension' on union

    Laura Kuenssberg

    Newsnight Chief Correspondent

    Gus O'Donnell with David and Samantha Cameron

    In an interview to be broadcast on tonight's BBC Newsnight, the former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell (nicknamed GOD by some politicians), says the probable success of the SNP will "put extra tension" on the union between Scotland and the rest of the UK, and that the union will be "subject to strains".

    He also suggests the UK voting system is no longer fit for purpose.

    “It looks likely the Conservatives will win England, the SNP will win in Scotland, and we will end up, quite possibly with Ed Miliband and Labour running the UK," he said.

    "People will think at the end of this, are there better systems? On 8 May is this relationship between votes and seats so out of kilter that we should think again about it?”

  157. Send us your comments

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Rob:

  158. Have your say

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Laurence:

  159. Ban opinion polls in final furlong?

    Eddie Mair

    PM on BBC Radio 4

    In Italy polling is banned for a fortnight before polling day and in France for the final 48 hours. BBC Radio 4's PM has been asking if it would be a good idea to ban opinion polls in the UK in the final week? Tom Waterhouse who was a Conservative party agent and now runs a blog - theballotboxblog.com - says he loves opinion polls but is concerned that they can end up shaping public opinion.

    He says:

    Quote Message: Polls are as much about psychology as they are about facts, they affect the mood of politicians."
  160. Back in the spin room

    BBC Political Correspondent tweets

  161. Swinging by later

    TV political show tweets

  162. Meanwhile in Leeds

    Presenter, BBC Newsnight

  163. More of the same for the FT

    The Financial Times favours a "Conservative-led administration" and is urging voters to back Liberal Democrats in seats the party already holds or where it is the “main challenger”. The paper says the Tories "instincts" on the economy, business and public sector reform are "broadly right".

    In an editorial it states: "At this delicate moment, the best outcome would be a continuation of the 2010 coalition between the Conservatives and Lib Dems."

  164. Scottish referendum mark II?

    Ruth Davidson

    The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has been setting out the party's position on a possible further referendum on Scottish independence. That scenario might arise if the SNP won elections to the Scottish Parliament next year - after promising a referendum in its manifesto. Asked if she would advise David Cameron - if he was prime minister - to block another referendum, Ruth Davidson replied: "Absolutely not. "We have and have always believed in self determination and democracy."

    She also urged Conservatives to get out and "evangelise" for the Conservative cause.

    Quote Message: The shy Tory syndrome that Scotland has suffered from before, it shall suffer from no longer."
  165. A worrying poll for Labour?

    Poling analyst and political gambler tweets:

  166. Another arrival in the spin room

    BBC Radio Leeds

  167. Thursday so far

    Tea-time round-up

    David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are preparing for the BBC's Question Time Election Leaders' Special. They will each, separately, face questions from a studio audience in Leeds. That's on BBC One from 8.00pm.

    In separate programmes, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and SNP leaders will also take questions.

    This morning's claim by Lib Dem Treasury chief, Danny Alexander, that the Tories planned to cut child benefit will doubtless feature.

    You can catch up with all the day's campaigning here .

  168. Child benefit changes

    Political Correspondent at Sky News tweets

  169. No child benefit cuts - Osborne

    George Osborne has again ruled out cutting child benefit should the Conservatives remain in power after the general election. Documents released by the Liberal Democrats suggested the coalition considered further restrictions on the payments.

    The chancellor was asked three times in an interview for BBC Stoke whether his party would commit to not cutting the benefit. He said: "The short answer is yes. This is a three-year-old document that was commissioned by the chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander; not by me."

    Pressed again, he pledged:

    Quote Message: No cuts to child benefit. Because what we instead have proposed is that working age benefits are frozen for the next two years. We think that's a more equitable, fairer way of making sure we contain the costs of our welfare system. You can see with us we have delivered more people in work, a welfare system that has got people back to work who were previously unemployed (and) an economy that's continuing to grow. from George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer
    George OsborneChancellor of the Exchequer
  170. Stopping electoral crime

    Lord Ashcroft

    Crimestoppers and the Electoral Commission will be working together to fight electoral fraud. Crimestoppers was set up by Lord Ashcroft, the pollster and Conservative peer, 27 years ago. Writing on his website, he says he's "delighted" at the link-up between Crimestoppers and the Electoral Commission.

    Crimestoppers are aiming to crack down on 'treating' (that's paying for food, drink or entertainment in exchange for voting or not voting) as well as multiple voting, registering false information and putting pressure on others to reveal their ballot paper.

    Quote Message: "As with all Crimestoppers' work, we are urging the public to be our 'eyes and ears' and to report any evidence or suspicions that they may have of criminal activity in this field."
  171. Ban please

    Political corr, C4 News tweets

  172. Send us your views

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Colin Willsher replies to earlier comment by Christian Hollingsworth:

  173. Big test for David Dimbleby

    Editor of PoliticsHome.com tweets

  174. More on voting recommendations

    Economics Editor for the BBC tweets

  175. More on Farage cancellation

    Politics Reporter for @BBCNewsbeat tweets

  176. In defence of the spin room?

    Assistant editor, The Spectator

  177. Farage boycott

    Daily Mail political reporter tweets

  178. Invisible women

    The gender equality campaign group tweets:

  179. What happens after the election

    - the procedural stuff

  180. Mind the gap

    The Spectator

    The gap between rich and poor is "outrageous" and the pay differentials tolerated within companies "extraordinary", Boris Johnson has claimed.

    The London mayor told the Spectator politicians should talk and care about inequality, using an extended aeroplane metaphor to illustrate his point.

    "'I don't mind people in the sharp end of plane guzzling Château Margaux, if that's what they want to do," he said in an interview with the magazine.

    "If beloved people that we know want to get on a plane, turn left, ensconce themselves in some ludicrous boudoir where hot towels and free copies of The Spectator are thrust on them every 30 seconds, then let them. It provides jobs.

    "But what people won't accept is those at the back of the plane finding their in-flight meal getting smaller and smaller and their conditions getting more and more cramped."

    Mr Johnson - touted by David Cameron as one of his potential successors - said the current gap between the richest and poorest was "outrageous", adding: "The wealth gap has been allowed to get too big."

  181. Russell Brand and Greens

    Deputy Political Editor, Daily Mirror tweets

  182. Getting ready for tonight's BBC Question Time

    BBC Political Correspondent tweets

  183. New arrival

    From Wigan Today

    "Labour success" for Lisa Nandy, the (Labour) candidate for Wigan .

    The local paper, Wigan Today, reports that she has given birth to a son.

    The shadow minister for civil society and partner Andy "are said to be thrilled by their first child together", the paper reports. The couple have named the baby Otis.

  184. Mysterious Scotland

    Daily Politics

    BBC Two

    Trevor Kavannagh

    Earlier on Daily Politics, the Sun's former political editor Trevor Kavanagh explained why the Sun was backing different political parties north and south of the Scottish border.

    “Scotland is a mysterious country," he says. "But we have two different papers the Scottish Sun and the English Sun, two different editors, two different political editors and two different lots of readers."

  185. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Concerned NE voter:

    SMS Message: How many other people in England do not realise that Nicola Sturgeon isn't actually standing for election in Westminster. A lot of people round here are shocked to be told that it's Alex Salmond who will be the SNP leader in Westminster and ask in that case why is Miss Sturgeon so prominent in the campaign for whatever promises she makes, the Westminster MP's are not bound by them but can go their own way. Alex Salmond as deputy prime minister or chancellor? It's an even more worrying prospect on this borderland with Scotland.
  186. Election maths explained

    John Lanchester

    The author of How to Speak Money, Capital and IOU: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay has his go at explaining how the votes and seats might add up.

  187. Correspondent round-up

    tweet us @bbcpolitics

    BBC correspondents tweet about today’s election issues:

  188. Ipsos Mori: polls in context

    As you'll be aware by now we reported earlier that the Conservatives had taken a five point lead over Labour in the latest Ipsos Mori opinion poll.

    But this is what Ipsos Mori's head of political research, Gideon Skinner had to say about that:

    Quote Message: The Conservatives will clearly be pleased with their first poll lead this year in this series, and confirmation that they have the edge on being seen as the most capable leaders. But this is still just one poll, and they will want the reassurance of this pattern being maintained in upcoming polls - and regardless, the political situation remains on a knife-edge.
  189. 'Most important' TV debates?

    Spectator writer tweets:

  190. Blunkett: People in Scotland have 'switched off'

    The World at One

    BBC Radio 4

    Former Labour cabinet stalwart David Blunkett, speaking on Radio 4's World at One a bit earlier today, said Labour have somehow allowed the SNP to position themselves as the counter-austerity party and voice of Scotland.

    That's despite Labour having had a Scottish prime minister and chancellor for the entire time it was in office.

    People in Scotland are not prepared to take leaflets or discuss policies, he said. It's as if part of the Scottish people have switched off.

    Getting them to switch back on will be one of Ed Miliband's greatest challenge, Mr Blunkett added.

    Meanwhile he said it was possible to have minority government with no formal agreement, and not be run by a minority Scottish party.

    He said Labour was massacred in the 1983 election but now could win scores of seats in England and Wales - but not able to offer majority government because of what had happened in one part of the country.

    Mr Blunkett also said Labour would reach out across the political divide, to those who voted Conservative, Lib Dem, and SNP. That type of action would pull people together, he said, but the cutting-edge programmes that Labour wanted to implement might have to be delayed until the party can get a majority.

  191. Royal baby?

    Political Editor of @indyonsunday tweets

  192. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Daily Politics viewer:

    SMS Message: Re child benefit. Reports are always accompanied by clips of toddlers and are reported in relation to those with young children, but my experience of 3 teens is the 16-19 age is far more expensive. They wear adult priced clothes, eat as adults need suits for school, travel expenses especially for uni visits and have more expense related to 6th form