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Live Reporting

By Nick Eardley and Dominic Howell

All times stated are UK

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  1. Signing off

    Here's a quick look back at what's happened today:

    That's all from Politics Live for tonight. We're back for a big day tomorrow, with live Budget coverage getting under way at 06:00 GMT. See you then.

  2. BBC Budget

    Tomorrow is Budget Day and we'll have comprehensive coverage across the BBC. You can keep up with the latest:

    • Online: Full live coverage in text, video, at-a-glance and what it means to you
    • On TV: A BBC Two special from 11.30am to 3.30pm Rolling coverage on the BBC News Channel
    • On radio: A Radio 4 special from 12.15pm to 2pm. 5Live special from 11.55am to 4pm
    • On Twitter: BBC correspondents tweeting #Budget2015
  3. Tomorrow's Herald

  4. Express front page

    Daily Express
  5. Paper review

    BBC News Channel

    Paper review

    On the paper review, John Rentoul, from the Independent, says the chancellor has got to "look out for" appearing to offer a pre-election bribe in tomorrow's Budget. Former Tory MP Angela Knight says she expects a surprise of some sort.

  6. 'Mrs Cameron. She is my light and dark..' - PM

    London Evening Standard


    In Sarah Sands' interview for the Evening Standard, Prime Minister David Cameron reveals what keeps him sane. In answer to that question he replies: "Mrs Cameron. She is my light and dark, my support, my everything. She is very good at making you focus, that the work is important but so is being a good dad. This job is very stressful and there is a lot of pressure on you and your family but she is so well organised and strong she manages to construct the family round it,"

  7. Tomorrow's Scotsman

  8. Low inflation windfall

    The BBC has learned the chancellor will have an extra £6bn a year to help reduce spending cuts and the national debt in Wednesday's Budget because of low inflation. It means that austerity might be less severe than previously thought under a future Conservative government. Here's Robert Peston's report.

  9. Tomorrow's Daily Mail

    Daily Mail
  10. Official Secrets Act

    BBC Newsnight

    BBC Two, 22:30

    Newsnight studio

    Ken Macdonald - the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) - tells Newsnight he can't imagine any situation where he would prosecute someone who came forward to whistle blow over child abuse under the Official Secrets Act. He says Theresa May was right to say what she did earlier on immunity (the home secretary did not rule out prosecutions, but said she wouldn't expect them to happen) - that's a decision for the attorney general and the DPP.

    He also says the act is sometimes "waved around" to "keep people quiet when they shouldn't keep quiet". The act is not there to stop scandals being brought to public attention, he says.

  11. Newsnight


    Tweets: @AnnPettifor: "it would be historic if Osborne was re-elected on the back of 7 years of falling income". #budget2015

  12. Sun Politics


    tweets: YouGov/Sun poll - Labour two ahead & polling highest score this year. Ukip poll their lowest: CON 34%, LAB 36%, LD 7%, UKIP 12%, GRN 6%

  13. BBC Newsnight


    tweets: Claims that CCTV of Cyril Smith was used in a training vid that taught officers how pedophiles effectively groomed boys, says @SimonDanczuk

  14. New coin designed by teenager

    New pound coin

    The new £1 coin was designed by 15-year-old David Pearce, whose winning design was picked from more than 6,000 entries and will be put on to the new coin in 2017. David, from Walsall, received the good news from the chancellor, who rang up to tell him he had won.

    George Osborne, who welcomed David and other young entrants to Downing Street to celebrate their success, said David's design would be "recognised by millions in the years ahead". He said: "Designing the new £1 coin was a brilliant opportunity to leave a lasting legacy on what will be the most secure coin in circulation anywhere."

  15. George Osborne rating

    BBC Newsnight

    BBC Two, 22:30

    What marks would you give the chancellor out of ten for his record in office, Evan Davis asks the panel. Ann Pettifor says two, but John Moutlon would give him eight.

  16. BBC Free Speech


    tweets: To all those asking we have invited David Cameron to come on next week's show... #BBCFreeSpeech #fingerscrossed

  17. George Osborne

    BBC Newsnight

    BBC Two, 22:30

    newsnight studio

    Talking about George Osborne, John Moutlon from Better Capital says the chancellor has failed to win the austerity argument - but that he hasn't lost it either.

    Author Ann Pettifor says Mr Osborne's big achievement was political - moving the debate onto public finances. All the political parties have been talking his talk, she adds.

  18. Tomorrow's Telegraph

  19. Parties 'differentiate'

    BBC Newsnight

    BBC Two, 22:30

    Allegra Stratton says the reports are quite quiet tonight on the Budget front. She says the Lib Dems giving their own alternative budget on Thursday shows that the parties want to "differentiate" ahead of the election. This week needs to be a launch pad for the election for both the Tories and Lib Dems, Newsnight's political editor adds. Duncan Weldon, Newsnight's economic correspondent, says the Chancellor has quite a lot to play with tomorrow.

  20. HM Treasury


    tweets: Here it is - the winning design for the brand new £1 coin. More details to follow tomorrow #yourpoundcoin

    New £1 coin
  21. Housing call

    We mentioned earlier that campaigners have been on the streets of London today calling for more homes to be built to address the UK's housing shortage. It has been suggested that 245,000 extra homes need to be built in England alone every year to deal with the growing population. However, planners say only half that number are being completed. Mark Easton's report on the subject is up on our website now. You can watch it here.

  22. Guardian front page

    Tomorrow's Guardian
  23. Tomorrow's Times

    The Times
  24. Budget predictions

    James Landale

    Deputy Political Editor, BBC News

    On the subject of George Osborne's Budget tomorrow, our deputy political editor says there will always be surprises - that's the way the chancellor does things. But he says we can expect to hear about pension reform - allowing pensioners to cash in annuities - and there is also a "huge expectation" there will be an increase in the personal tax free allowance. Interestingly, on Thursday, the Lib Dems will also be revealing their own version of the Budget, which will set out what the party would have have done had they not been in coalition with the Tories.

  25. Mishal Husain, Today presenter


    tweets: For Budget Day, #r4today live from a Reading factory (M4 corridor = 8% of British econ output.) Will spoil you with more data in the morning


    tweets: We'll have @Peston, @BBCNormanS, @zoeconway1 in Newport, and my report on contrasting experiences of the economy from Swindon #r4today

  26. Your views

    Some of the emails we have received from Politics Live readers on the TV debates:

    If there is only a single 7-way debate by leaders it will be one of the most craven sell-outs ever by UK broadcasters, allowing one party's tactical objectives (ie the Conservatives' determination to avoid a head-to-head with Labour) to over-ride all other parties' and all the major broadcasters' wishes.

    Shame on the BBC leading this process if David Cameron prevails.

    R Waumsley, Powys

    Living in the United States, we are used to the debates between the candidates that take place prior to the election. I frankly do not find them to be very useful. They are more about political theatre, sound bites, and shouting down your opponent. Something insightful is rarely heard, it's more about providing entertainment.

    Gaurav Singhvi

  27. Peter Robinson, DUP leader


    tweets: I want to see unionists working together to maximise the unionist vote. Too often divisions are manufactured to create difference.

  28. Rachel Reeves, shadow work and pensions secretary


    Tweets: Wonderful generosity of Mirror readers but another reminder of why we must scrap the cruel & nasty bedroom tax.

  29. BBC press office


    Tweets: Good news that David Cameron's said for the first time he's willing to do the first debate on 2 April - even if it's on ITV.


    Tweets: Of course, debates still work in progress. B'casters sounded out Cons on proposals, then Lab, Lib Dem & other parties. Discussions continue

  30. Newsnight


    Tweets: Tonight on #Newsnight - ahead of the budget we debate George Osborne's legacy as Chancellor, plus @simon_schama on the #IsraelElections


    Tweets: Also tonight - former DPP Ken MacDonald on abuse whistleblowers and the Official Secrets Act

  31. Ed Miliband on TV debates

    Ed Miliband

    Here's a bit more detail on what Ed Miliband has been saying on today's TV debate developments. The Labour leader says he is still "fighting for" a head-to-head debate with David Cameron.

    "I'm fighting for the debate between me and David Cameron which the British people want," Mr Miliband said.

    "We now have the tawdry spectacle of the Prime Minister going to any length to avoid that debate.

    "I say to David Cameron, even at this late stage: agree to this debate which the British people deserve."

    Mr Miliband said there was no new proposal on the table from the broadcasters beyond the latest offer of three debates; two with seven party leaders and one head to head between Ed Miliband and David Cameron.

  32. FT front page

    FT front page
  33. McCluskey Vs Miliband

    Len McCluskey

    The leader of Britain's biggest trade union has attacked Labour figures for trying to create a "phoney war" between him and Ed Miliband. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused the media team around Mr Miliband of an apparent "obsession". He said they were constantly seeking opportunities for the Labour leader to "face down Red Len" and Unite to show his "macho authority". Writing on Labour List, Mr McCluskey said: "They deliberately brief stories (off record of course) in order to create a phoney war between Miliband v McCluskey. It's so transparent and crude, it's getting tedious. These minnows should concentrate on the more important task of attacking this government and trying to improve Miliband's image so we can achieve a Labour victory."

  34. Nigel Farage, UKIP leader


    tweets: Great book launch tonight. I even signed a copy for @MichaelLCrick and didn't hit him over the head with it!

    Nigel Farage
  35. Pat Kane, musician and commentator


    tweets: Should be as many photo-ops btwn Nicola, Natalie & Leanne as poss. Displays a better political future instantly, indelibly. #BBCFreeSpeech

  36. Debt question

    What would you do about national debt?, Leanne Wood is asked. Would your policies saddle future generations with debt? She says the welfare state was built when there was no money, and that investment enabled wealth for future generations. She thinks that is what will happen if we invest now. The converse would be cuts and the decimation of the welfare state which would saddle future generations with problems, she adds.

  37. Drug laws

    Leanne Wood

    When alcohol and tobacco are the biggest killers, but cannabis is illegal, we've got our priorities wrong, Leanne Wood says to applause from the Free Speech audience.

    Discussing the renewal of Trident, she says she would rather see the money spent elsewhere.

  38. Votes at 16

    I'd like to see the voting age lowered to 16, Leanne Wood says when asked how she will get more young people involved in politics. She wants political education for young people, and politics that is more interesting - moving beyond "four shades of Westminster grey". She also won't make a prediction on the number of seats she will get. But she will say she considers her party socialist.

  39. Sexism


    How often do you deal with sexism in your job?, Leanne Wood is asked. Women in all professions have to deal with sexism on a daily basis she says. One of the reasons she came into politics was to fight sexist attitudes, she tells the Free Speech audience. She says Nicola Sturgeon has seen more sexism directed at her and describes her treatment in the media as "appalling".

  40. 'No Tory mandate in Wales'

    Wales has never given a mandate to the Conservatives to rule in Wales, Leanne Wood says. When she mentions former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, there's a boo from the young audience.

  41. 'Devolution journey'

    Leanne Wood

    Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru's leader, is last up on BBC Three's Free Speech. She says most people in Wales want more powers - her party wants independence eventually, but for the moment "parity" with Scotland on powers.

    She says Wales' "devolution journey" started at a different stage from Scotland. We're a little bit behind, she says, but we'll catch up.

  42. TV debates

    Natalie Bennett

    We're still in a very fluid situation over TV debates, Natalie Bennett says. We should debating issues not debates themselves, she adds.

  43. Freedom and democracy

    I've made it clear supporting IS or any organisation like it is and should be criminal, Natalie Bennett tells Free Speech on BBC Three. But we do have to think about this, she says. IS is trying to destroy freedom and democracy. We should all have a sense of privacy and freedom to communicate, she adds.

  44. Eradicating poverty

    We need decent benefits, Natalie Bennett says when asked how she would eradicate poverty. We should aspire to be a decent and humane society, the Green leader says. Iain Duncan Smith's benefit sanctions are leaving people "with nothing" and that can't be acceptable in a humane society, she adds.

  45. Lack of diversity

    Natalie Bennett

    Natalie Bennett says she is "very disappointed" in the lack of ethnic diversity among her candidates. She says her party needs to do more on the issue and is confident it will do better in future.

    She is asked if her party would ban halal and says people shouldn't believe what they read in the papers. She talks about battery farming and the health implications.

  46. Wasted vote?

    Is a Green vote wasted? Natalie Bennett says it is in voters hands - "vote for what you believe in". Voters can create a "peaceful revolution", the Green leader adds.

  47. Natalie Bennett

    Natalie Bennett

    It's Natalie Bennett's turn. She says what we have now isn't working - young people have debts, people are struggling to put a roof over their heads, wages are too low. She tells the audience the rich aren't paying their way and it is time for that to change.

    She says the UK should build up a new place in the world, focused on peace and justice.

  48. Scottish oil


    Scotland has a strong economy and is lucky to have natural resources, says Nicola Sturgeon. She's been asked about the falling price of oil and whether Scotland's economy would be hit if it had voted for independence. Successive UK governments have not managed oil in the North Sea properly, she tells the audience - why on earth should we allow them to continue to mismanage it, she finishes by saying.

  49. 'No prediction'

    "I'm not going to make a prediction" on the number of seats the SNP will get, says Nicola Sturgeon.

  50. 'Lock the Tories out'

    Who should I vote for to keep the Tories out, Nicola Sturgeon is asked. Unsurprisingly, she says the SNP. As long as there are more anti-Tory MPs than Tory MPs, "we can lock the Tories out of government", she tells the young audience. The added advantage of voting SNP, if the Tories get a majority, is that you will get strong SNP MPs standing up to the Conservatives, she concludes.

  51. Drink?

    Nicola Sturgeon tells BBC Three she only drinks Irn-Bru "occasionally". The SNP leader says she tries to avoid fizzy drinks.

  52. 'Broken system'

    Nicola Sturgeon says it's not her fault neither Labour or the Tories look like winning a majority - it's their own for not inspiring people enough. She says SNP MPs could help force better policies and better politics as part of a progressive alliance. "The Westminster system is broken the Establishment system needs to be shaken up," the SNP leader tells the BBC Three audience to rapturous applause.

    She repeats there will be no formal or informal deal with the Tories, but she is working with Labour and open to dealing with other progressive parties.

  53. Scottish v English issues

    Nicola Sturgeon says that if something only effects England, it should be up to MPs from south of the border to vote on them. But many issues will have knock on effect of some sort, she adds.

  54. Nicola Sturgeon on Free Speech

    SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon tells BBC Three she doesn't think it's unfair her party could be kingmakers after the election, despite only representing Scotland. She says playing a full part in the Westminster system is "perfectly legitimate". But her ideas will be of benefit to people across the UK, Ms Sturgeon adds.

  55. NI election pact revealed

    Northern Ireland's two biggest unionist parties have agreed a general election pact in four constituencies. The deal between the Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party means representatives will step aside for a single unionist candidate. They will co-operate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone - which Sinn Féin held in 2010 by a margin of just four votes - East Belfast, North Belfast, and Newry and Armagh.

  56. Post update

    On BBC Three, the kingmakers debate featuring SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne and Green leader Natalie Bennett is getting under way

  57. Miliband 'won't sanction single debate'

    Ed Miliband has said he won't sanction a single debate on 2 April between 7-party leaders. He says there is no new offer from the broadcasters. The Labour leader is urging the prime minister to sign up to the original plan.

  58. MSPs scrap Westminster pay link

    Holyrood chamber

    In Scotland, members of the Holyrood parliament have voted to scrap the link between their pay and the salary of a Westminster MP. Members of the Scottish parliament are currently paid 87.5% of an MP's wage. Now, they've agreed to decouple the payments after concluding a pay rise proposed by the independent Parliamentary standards authority was unthinkable in the current economic climate.

  59. BBC Free Speech


    tweets: TONIGHT: We're LIVE, 8pm @bbcthree with @theSNP @Plaid_Cymru @TheGreenParty - what do you want to talk about?

    BBC three debate poster
  60. Ken Loach on housing

    Ken Loach

    Film director Ken Loach has warned that Britain's housing crisis is worse now than a half century ago when the issue was thrust into the limelight by his gritty TV play. The veteran film-maker said the situation British families still found themselves in, generations after 1966's seminal Cathy Come Home, was "a disgrace". He received a rapturous reception at a rally which brought thousands of campaigners to London to demand action on the issue. The Homes For Britain event sought pledges that whoever forms the next government will deliver a long-term plan within a year to resolve the crisis before another generation passes.

  61. Broadcasters on debates

    The broadcasters have just issued a joint statement on their TV debates proposals. It reads: "In recent days the broadcasters have had detailed discussions with a number of the parties with the aim of delivering impartial debates and other programmes in the run up to the general election.

    "We welcome David Cameron's willingness to participate in the first TV debate on 2 April.

    "The broadcasters are continuing to work with all the political parties on programmes scheduled for 26 March, 16 April and 30 April."

  62. Guantanamo Bay

    In other news, a senior MP has warned that Britain and the United States's handling of Guantanamo Bay detainees is increasing the risk of terrorism and legitimising barbarous behaviour. David Davis insisted the standards for which millions died to protect in the 20th century have been betrayed since the 9/11 terror attacks, as he joined MPs in pressing for the release of the last British resident - Shaker Aamer - at the notorious US military prison. The former Foreign Office minister added the behaviour of Western countries had essentially been what "al-Qaida would have liked us to have done".

  63. Your views

    Politics Live reader Graeme Lowe writes:

    One seven-way debate is enough. We should find out far more about the various leaders from in depth, Paxman-style interviews than we ever would do from debates. I still remember how Alex Salmond bullied Alistair Darling in the second TV debate on Scottish independence. It was not an edifying sight and was, if anything, misleading. I hope everyone sees sense and buys into the newly proposed formula.

    Do you agree? Email us or tweet @bbcpolitics

  64. Farage: What you see is what you get

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage

    Another recap from earlier. UKIP's leader says he "probably will win" the Thanet South seat at the general election "but there is no complacency from me at all." Asked if the party could carry on without him, Nigel Farage claims UKIP is "a lot more than me". And speaking of his own reputation, he told Jo Coburn: "What you see is what you get. If people like it then, that's great, and if they don't, well, tough." Watch a clip from the interview

  65. Abuse inquiry

    Danny Shaw

    Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

    A bit more from our home affairs correspondent on Theresa May's appearance at the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier:

    The home secretary has said that she "hopes and expects" that people who give evidence about child abuse to the public inquiry will not be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Mrs May said she had written to the chair of the inquiry, Justice Lowell Goddard, suggesting that witnesses should be given immunity from prosecution. She also made clear that public officials should be able to report allegations of abuse or cover-up to the police without facing the prospect of prosecution under the OSA.

  66. Analysis

    James Landale

    Deputy Political Editor, BBC News

    The prime minister may have been "a touch premature" with his announcement that a deal had been reached with the broadcasters. The broadcasters say this [the series of new proposals] was a proposal that was being discussed. If agreements are not reached soon then it is possible these debates will not happen.

  67. Owen Jones, columnist for The Guardian


    Tweets: Cracking to speak at enthusiastic, determined @HomesforBritain rally. Build council housing, regulate private rented sector, land value tax!

  68. Tim Montgomerie, The Times columnist


    Tweets: #homesforbritain rally v left-wing. Shapps got v cold response.Hillary Benn warmly received despite Labour's failure to build when in office

  69. TV debates

    Have David Cameron's team changed their mind on his "final offer" on the TV debates? Here's what Downing Street head of communications Craig Oliver wrote to broadcasters on 5 March:

    "In order to cut through this chaotic situation I am willing to make the following proposal: There should be one 90-minute debate between seven party leaders before the short campaign."

    He added: "In order for it to be organised in time, the debate should take place during the week beginning March 23. I will make myself available to negotiate the details. Having been the editor of numerous broadcast news and current affairs programmes, I know this is ample time to organise a programme.

    "This is our final offer, and to be clear, given the fact this has been a deeply unsatisfactory process and we are within a month of the short campaign, the prime minister will not be participating in more than one debate."

    Today's offer from prime minister would see a seven-party debate on 2 April.

  70. Patrick Wintour, Guardian political editor


    tweets: Either Cameron has turned an exploratory talk into formal offer, or BBC struck private deal with Tories ahead of talking to other parties

  71. Farage on private healthcare

    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage has told the BBC those who can afford private healthcare should use it. The UKIP leader said it would "relieve the pressure" on NHS services. Mr Farage dismissed fears this would create a "two tier" system in the NHS, saying there was already one. But he said it was his personal view - not party policy. More here.

  72. Shapps on second job

    Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has spoken about revelations he continued to work as 'Michael Green' and run a business while working as an MP - and later denying he had ever held a second job when in Parliament.

    Mr Shapps was speaking earlier outside Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. He said the story from yesterday is the "same old stuff, a typical Labour attack".

    He stopped to answer a question about his lawyers threatening one of his constituents, Dean Archer, with legal action over a Facebook post which accused Mr Shapps of dishonesty in continuing to work as 'Michael Green' while an MP. Mr Shapps said: "Dean Archer is a Labour councillor who had to resign because he wasn't actually representing his constituents, who wrote things which were defamatory, and I invited him to take them down which he did. The only point other than that is the timetable which we've already talked about."

  73. TV debates recap

    David Cameron

    Here's where we are at with the TV debates at the moment:

    • David Cameron says he has accepted an offer to take part in one seven-way TV debate at the beginning of April
    • The PM says broadcasters put forward a "formal offer" for a new format of TV programmes for the election, which included one televised debate
    • But Labour says it still backs the original plan for three debates
    • "The latest proposals" are welcome by the Lib Dems
    • A UKIP spokesman says the only proposal they knew of was for three debates, two involving them
    • Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, says Mr Cameron's offer is an "inevitable climbdown"

    We'll bring you the latest, including any clarification from the broadcasters, when we get it.

  74. UKIP on debates

    A UKIP spokesman has said on today's TV debates developments: "The only proposal that we are aware of from the broadcasters was for three debates - two of which UKIP were invited to. We intend to turn up for those two debates."

  75. PM speaks on TV debates

    BBC News Channel

    Speaking at 10 Downing Street, David Cameron said: "There was a formal offer of a set of television programmes including a televised debate, put together by the broadcasters led by the BBC. As Prime Minister, I accepted that deal in full."

    He added: "This was an offer put together by the broadcasters, accepted by me on Saturday. The other parties have now got to stop running away from this and agree to the debate that the broadcasters have now suggested."

  76. Tory sources reveal broadcasters' offers

    David Cameron

    Conservatives sources have said the following programmes were put to the Conservatives as a formal offer from the broadcasters at the weekend:

    • 26 March - Channel 4/Sky programme, prime minister in front of an audience, and then Ed Miliband in front of an audience
    • 2 April - only seven-way debate - to be broadcast by ITV
    • 16 April - Challengers programme (everyone BUT Cameron and Miliband)
    • 30 April - Rotating "Question Time" style broadcast by BBC 30 mins with each of the three party leaders - Cameron, Miliband and Clegg
  77. SNP on debates

    SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on the TV debates: "While it is welcome that David Cameron has accepted his position was indefensible and agreed to debate during the campaign period - abandoning his arrogant 'final offer' - he should sign up to the full programme of debates that is on the table.

    "I will debate David Cameron any time, anywhere, and on any number of occasions - but a Tory Prime Minister simply cannot be allowed to dictate terms to everyone else."

  78. Other TV debates options

    The Spectator's political editor James Forsyth says that as well as one debate, a series of "election specials" involving the party leaders has been proposed during the campaign. This would see David Cameron and Ed Miliband interviewed by Jeremy Paxman and then questioned by a studio audience in a Sky/Channel 4 special on 26 March, an event in which the two men would not share the stage. On 16 April there would be a "challengers" special involving the SNP, UKIP, Plaid and the Greens and finally, on 30 April, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg would each have separate half hours in a Question Time-style BBC event with David Dimbleby.

  79. Home affairs select committee

    That's all from Theresa May at the home affairs select committee. Keith Vaz thanks the home secretary for appearing.

  80. 'Replacements to the TV debates'

    The Radio Times has reported negotiations have been taking place between a select group of top television executives and the Conservatives, under which Mr Cameron would agree to attend the first debate, while the other two would be cancelled. The magazine quotes an unnamed source close to the negotiations as saying that Mr Cameron had instead offered to take part in a number of replacement programmes. These could include a grilling by a selected audience of experts, in-depth interviews with news anchors or town-hall style question and answer sessions. "The Tories have made it clear that we could get him involved in almost anything, as long as it does not have the word 'debate' in the title," they quote a source saying. More here.

  81. Jewish community

    Theresa May

    Theresa May tells the home affairs select committee "we" need to do everything we can to assure Jews they are safe in the UK. She agrees the UK remains one of the safest countries for Jewish communities.

  82. Water cannons

    Theresa May says no decision has been taken on approval of the use of water cannons. She hasn't seen the final evidence, she says. (see previous entry 15:54 GMT)

  83. Michael Crick, political correspondent for Channel 4


    Tweets: Conservatives think there will now be only ONE debate, for ITV, on 2 April, & debates on 16 + 30 April replaced with other leader TV events

  84. Lib Dem response to TV debates

    A Liberal Democrat spokesman says: "It's welcome news that the Conservatives have finally agreed to taking part in at least one TV debate. As we've always said, we will be there and are pleased that they are joining us. We look forward to hearing proposals from the broadcasters about how we move forward from here."

  85. Snowden leaks

    Theresa May tells the home affairs select committee the Snowden leaks caused damage to the intelligence services, adding that they had an impact on the ability of agencies to do the work they need to do.

  86. Distribution of asylum seekers

    Theresa May is being pushed on the distribution of asylum seekers across the country - the question of why some areas have lots, while others have none. She won't say whether the distribution is fair, telling the committee the government has to look at practical arrangements on accommodation. Both the current and previous governments have done it. The set up is reasonable, she says.

  87. Asylum seekers

    Theresa May says there has been a lot of work done to look at asylum claims and to work through them as quickly as possible. From April, the intention is that people will be processed within six months, the home secretary says. But more work needs to be done, she admits. The principle of giving a decision as quickly as possible is the right one, she adds.

  88. Analysis - TV debates

    Iain Watson

    Political correspondent, BBC News

    Sources close to the broadcasters have said there has been "no formal" proposal of a single seven party debate in April which Downing St say they have "accepted" as part of discussions on wider election coverage. Sources say the discussions are still 'in flux' and haven't been fully nailed down.

  89. Asylum seekers

    Should asylum seekers be spread evenly across the country, Theresa May is asked. The home secretary says people should understand the government is looking at the issue in the right way - it has a proper process for dealing with claims.

  90. 'One down, two to go'

    Labour's election campaign co-ordinator Douglas Alexander says: "Based on the broadcasters' proposals we have accepted and plan to attend all three debates on April 2nd, 16th and the 30th. If the Tories have confirmed they are to attend to one of these debates then that is progress. It is one down, two to go. But no-one should be fooled: David Cameron is still running scared of a head-to-head televised debate with Ed Miliband."

  91. Patrick O'Flynn, UKIP MEP


    Tweets: The principle guiding the TV debates process: the Prime Minister's indecision is final!


    Tweets: I imagine Craig Oliver must be feeling that he has been made to look a bit foolish by Dave.

  92. Sunny Hundal, journalist


    tweets: In the US, TV networks usually stare down Presidential candidates trying to fix TV debates. Will British broadcasters show spine?

  93. Exit checks

    Home Secretary Theresa May is being asked about immigration at the home affairs select committee now. She says exit check commitments will be met. She tells the committee discussions with ports have been held and trails are taking place on dealing with coaches. There are contingencies in place, as always, that can be put in place if needs be, she adds.

  94. Adam Boulton, Sky News presenter


    Tweets: @David_Cameron attitude unclear on proposed subsequent 16/4 7way and 30/2 2-way #tvdebates


    Tweets: On @SkyNewsTonight @Nigel_Farage describes Conservative conduct re #TVdebates as "shameful".

  95. Nicola Sturgeon


    tweets: The inevitable climbdown begins - David Cameron 'accepts single multi-party TV debate'

  96. Date of debate revealed

    The date of the debate that the prime minister has agreed to is 2 April, PA News has reported. David Cameron previously said he would not participate in a debate after the start of the campaign on 30 March. However, Labour has said it still backs the original plan for three debates. The BBC's political correspondent Alex Forsyth said there appeared to be some "movement" to break the apparent stand-off between the parties. Get the full BBC story here.

  97. Justice Goddard


    Meanwhile, Theresa May tells the home affairs select committee the salary to be paid to Justice Goddard for her part in the inquiry on child abuse will be published in due course. Keith Vaz says he feels very let down the information has not been published yet.

  98. James Chapman, Daily Mail


    tweets: Cameron's 'final offer' on #tvdebates not so final after all #GE2015

  99. Labour's TV debate stance

    Labour Party sources say there has been no formal proposal for new debates. The only proposal on table is the three debate proposal which they have accepted, the BBC has been told.

  100. Hizbut Tahrir


    Does Theresa May believe Hizbut Tahrir should be banned? The home secretary talks about the legal views and the advice she is getting on the issue. There is quite a row between the home secretary and Ian Austin on the issue and why the group has not yet been banned - the former saying the prime minister had promised to do so.

  101. Breaking: PM accepts one TV debate

    Prime Minister David Cameron has accepted broadcasters' offer of one, seven-way debate at the very beginning of April, a Conservative source says.

  102. Bethnal Green Academy support

    Commitee room

    Theresa May is asked about support given to Bethnal Green Academy in east London, the school attended by girls who fled to Syria. Mrs May says police were in touch with the school and it had been engaged with the government's Prevent programme. There's no evidence girls were radicalised at the school, she says.

  103. Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent


    Tweets: Asked directly who gave order to keep quiet over Cyril Smith abuse, as alleged in #newsnight programme, Theresa May says "I don't know".


    Tweets: Theresa May says she's written to Justice Goddard suggesting she gives prosecution immunity to those giving evidence of child abuse/cover-up

  104. Tuesday so far

    That's it from Alex Stevenson and Victoria King, who are now off on various strength-gathering exercises before starting the Budget edition of Politics Live bright and early tomorrow at 6:00. There's lots more politics to come today, though - Nick Eardley and Dominic Howell will see you through until midnight. But in the meantime here's a recap of the day's biggest developments:

    • The Budget build-up has focused on leaked papers suggesting the Conservative manifesto will feature a pledge to raise the inheritance tax threshold
    • Disagreement over whether ministers need to take action over the Official Secrets Act has followed Newsnight's revelation that the historic child abuse investigation was shut down shortly after the arrest of Cyril Smith
    • Housing has been in the headlines as campaigners held a rally in Westminster Central Hall
    • Nigel Farage appeared on the Daily Politics and predicted he'll "probably" win a seat in Parliament
    • The merits of the national minimum wage were debated after the government increased it at the quickest rate since 2008
  105. More on abuse inquiry

    Mrs May highlights that her comments relate to what she hopes and expects would happen in relation to child abuse and the Official Secrets Act. Justice Goddard and the attorney general need to liaise on specifics, she adds.

  106. Child abuse inquiry

    Mrs May says she hopes anyone with information on child abuse would be willing to take the information to the inquiry or the police.

  107. Official Secrets Act

    On child abuse - and fears the Official Secrets Act could prevent police and intelligence officers giving evidence - Mrs May tells the committee authority can be given to allow crown servants to give evidence without facing the prospect of prosecution. "If people are giving evidence of child abuse to the Goddard inquiry or to the police, I would hope they would not be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and would not expect them to be," Mrs May says. She has written to Justice Goddard on the issue.

  108. Water cannon decision after election

    House of Lords


    Across in the House of Lords, former Metropolitan Police commissioners have criticised the possible deployment of water cannons to control riots in London. Lord Condon said "no compelling case" had been made for the use of water cannons in the capital. "If there is a change of policy it will dramatically affect the mood and tone of how police respond to the challenge of demonstrations or street disorder," he warned. Lord Blair of Boughton, another former commissioner and crossbench peer, said they could only be used to keep demonstrators from a site that needed protecting or to separate fighting protesters. The Metropolitan Police has purchased three water cannons but Home Secretary Theresa May has postponed a decision on whether to allow their use on the streets of Britain until after the election.

  109. Ben Glaze, @DailyMirror political correspondent


    tweets: It's rather an understatement to say speech by @FrancesOGrady at #homesforbritain was better received than @Nigel_Farage 's offering

  110. Five passports

    Since measures allowing the temporary seizure of passports were introduced, they have been used on five occasions, Theresa May says. She won't go into detail about the cases, saying it wouldn't be appropriate.

  111. Families' concerns

    Why are we not trying to find voices in the Muslim communities to give messages on behalf of the government, Keith Vaz asks. Mrs May says the basis for the question is wrong - there are people in Muslim communities doing just that. The Met Police's campaigns have seen an increase in the number of families reporting concerns. There isn't one simple route - we must use all the tools possible, she adds.

  112. Budget wishlist

    Woman in a supermarket holding a shopping basket.

    George Osborne should extend the timetable for reductions to local government spending, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation believes. Its pre-Budget wishlist suggests doing so would give councils breathing space to implement further reform, increase partnership working and do preventative work. But it also wants a much broader programme of measures set to help the worse-off. "The UK cannot achieve its full economic potential while levels of poverty and disadvantage remain high," chief executive Julia Unwin says. "Many people are still struggling and poorer places have been hardest hits by cuts to services. JRF would like to see a Budget focused on supporting those in lower income households, meaning that everyone can share in and contribute to economic growth."

  113. Phone call?

    Theresa May

    Is an email between Mrs May and her Turkish counterpart sufficient contact, Mr Vaz asks on the issue of the three girls. Why wasn't there a phone call? Mrs May says the cooperation was there - on operational matters, she says she must take advice from law enforcement authorities. The clear advice she had was the police were getting good cooperation from Turkish authorities.

  114. Missing schoolgirls

    Has cooperation with the Turks improved, Mr Vaz asks. Theresa May says there has been cooperation for some time, in a number of ways. The home secretary says this is not an issue for government alone - parents and communities are important too. She says there was no approach to the Turkish government over three girls from east London who travelled to Syria through Turkey.

    Mrs May also says people should not be trying to travel to Syria and they should be aware of what could happen to them there.

  115. UKIP MEP row

    David Coburn

    A row has been brewing in Scotland over comments made by the country's UKIP MEP - David Coburn. Mr Coburn, in a newspaper interview, is said to have compared Scottish government minister Humza Yousaf to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza. Mr Coburn is alleged to have said: "Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza". Mr Yousaf has called for European officials to discipline the MEP.

    Today, UKIP leader Nigel Farage was asked about the comments. He said Mr Coburn should not have made the comparison, adding: "I haven't spoken to David Coburn about it. I can only guess he's either saying he's a terrorist or he's telling a joke in poor taste. I suspect it's a joke in poor taste."

    When asked if he would be taking action against Mr Coburn he said: "People do make mistakes. I don't think David Coburn should have done that. But am I going to get terribly exercised about it? No." More from BBC Scotland here.

  116. Youth radicalisation

    Home Affairs select committee chairman Keith Vaz says the committee is concerned about the number of young Britons going to Syria, especially through Turkey. Theresa May says the government and law enforcement have been talking about the issue for a long time. Both boys and girls have been going, and young people as well as adults. More than 600 people are believe to have gone to Syria and Iraq, she says.

  117. Housing crisis

    BBC News Channel

    Frances O'Grady

    Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, said that today's housing rally in London is about "putting the issue at the top of the political agenda". She said the housing problem was "urgent" and there were "millions more on council waiting lists". It is affecting young people in particular, who have been "hit hard by high rents when wages are still very low".

  118. Theresa May at committee

    Home Secretary Theresa May has just arrived to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

  119. Joe Churcher, Press Association chief political correspondent


    tweets: Farage promises "brownfield revolution" inc tax breaks for conversions, and "decontamination grants". But says must protect greenbelt.

  120. Joe Churcher, Press Association chief political correspondent


    tweets: Nigel Farage tells #homesforbritain tackling immigration to stop "inexorable" population rise is an unspoken key to solving housing crisis.

  121. Child abuse inquiry

    Two prominent Labour MPs have called for police and intelligence officers who give evidence on an alleged Westminster paedophile ring to be protected from prosecution. Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk have said the prime minister must guarantee officers that will not face charges under the Official Secrets Act if they help the inquiry into the Met Police. More here.

  122. Alberto Nardelli, data editor at the @Guardian


    tweets: Interesting in @LordAshcroft latest constituency polls: Ukip % down in all the seats polled

  123. Tim Montgomerie, columnist for @TheTimes


    Tweets: Kudos to @Nigel_Farage for turning up to speak to #homesforbritain - I wonder if any other party leaders will?

    Nigel Farage
  124. Housing campaign

    The Homes for Britain rally is under way at Methodist Central Hall in London. Nigel Farage is expected to be the first speaker.

  125. 'Battle of the kingmakers'

    Free Speech

    Coming up this evening is the next episode of BBC3's Free Speech series, in which young voters quiz party leaders. Tonight it's the turn of the "kingmakers" - the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru, whose leaders may end up deciding who eventually becomes prime minister. The full hour of unscripted tough and uncensored questions gets under way at 20:00.

  126. Patrick Wintour, political editor of the guardian


    tweets: Budget measures are agreed within coalition, but Osborne need not consult on how he uses speech as platform to set out future Tory plans.

  127. Lords defeat overturned

    House of Commons


    And here's the result: 276 for the government, 209 for the opposition. "One more heave," one backbencher is heard to say after the result.

  128. Division bell

    House of Commons


    The government amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill overturns a Lords defeat by seeking to allow overseas domestic workers to change employer after their arrival in the UK and extend their visa for up to a year at the time of work. But it's been sharply criticised by some MPs. Fiona MacTaggart says the amendment "infantilises the victim" and that peers had proposed "a better way" of "protecting these vulnerable victims". The result is expected shortly.

  129. Disability rights

    House of Lords


    Disabled peers

    A number of disabled peers are calling for the government to enforce rules that ban taxis from charging extra to carry wheelchair users during today's oral questions.

    Crossbench peer Baroness Grey-Thompson asks, "don't disabled people deserve the same rights to access public transport as everybody else?"

    Recent investigations carried out by Labour MP for Dudley Ian Austin have found that taxi firms in Nottingham, Hull, Middlesbrough and a number of other areas have all been overcharging to passengers with wheelchairs.

  130. Vote in the Commons

    House of Commons


    Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing asks MPs to accept or reject Lords Amendment 72 to the Modern Slavery Bill.

    There's no clear winner from the oral vote so a division is called, and MPs leave the chamber to vote in the division lobbies.

    The result is expected at 15.05 GMT.

  131. Digital debate letter

    David Cameron

    It's been nearly a week since the Guardian, Telegraph and YouTube intervened in the TV debates deadlock by offering to move their Digital Debate forwards to March 26th or 27th - next week. With the clock ticking the consortium has again written to David Cameron, quoting his BuzzFeed interview in which he said: "Everyone's got to agree to it but I've said very clearly - multi-party debate before the campaign, where do I sign?" The signatories write: "The timescale for making a debate happen next week is compressed, but it is just possible if you commit to taking part. We would urge you to do so as soon as possible."

  132. Farage on the NHS

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Patient on stretcher

    Earlier Nigel Farage told the BBC's Daily Politics that people could opt out of the NHS and use private insurance if they can afford it. He elaborated on BBC Radio 5 Live, arguing that a small minority who can pay the bills should "relieve the pressure on the health service for everybody else" by choosing private healthcare. The UKIP leader repeatedly insisted that this isn't something well-off people "should" do. But he said it might be an option to consider and was happy to admit doing so would be costly to the middle-classes. "The better off would be paying twice," Mr Farage added. "They'll be paying once through general taxation into the NHS and secondly for their own private cover."

  133. 2015's big data battle

    Internet data

    More than in any previous election, Dr Paul Bernal argues on, the political parties are going to be desperate to get hold of information about voters. It's why they've been so active in trying to find out about your online activities, he argues. "Questionnaires, seemingly neutral, non-party political campaigns and many other methods are used by all the parties," Dr Bernal writes. "This is of course governed by the Data Protection Law, but the level of enforcement and the seriousness with which that law is taken is another matter." He says the role of big data in election campaigns is only going to increase. "This is something," he urges, "that at the very least we should be aware of."

  134. Michael Crick, political correspondent at Channel 4


    tweets: Labour close blinds on HQ windows as contenders start turning up for special selections panel due to choose short-list for Halifax

  135. MSPs' pay


    In Holyrood, MSPs are taking a controversial step today: they're effectively going to vote down a £6,000 pay rise. Their pay is supposed to be 87.5% of MPs' in Westminster. After MPs gave expenses watchdog Ipsa authority to set their pay - and Ipsa recommended a pay rise after 2015 - Scottish MSPs' salaries were going to increase too - until today's vote stops it. Instead they'll peg their pay packets to inflation, in line with the rest of the public sector. More here.

  136. Budget betting

    George Osborne

    Occasions like the pre-election Budget always attract the attention of all and sundry - and the gambling world is no exception. Betfair is offering a number of markets which promise to liven up watching George Osborne's statement tomorrow lunchtime. Betting opportunities cover the colour of his tie, whether he uses the phrase "Balls up" (50/1) and the possibility of an MP falling asleep (5/2 on). "If fans can nap at an Arsenal game, an MP could surely take a snooze during an hour long talk about long-term economic plans and austerity," Betfair says.

  137. Jo Coburn, BBC Daily Politics presenter


    tweets: @Nigel_Farage says UKIP is Not supporting a ban on non-stun slaughter of animals by Halal/kosher abattoirs. UKIP's website says the opposite

  138. Homes for Britain, affordable housing campaign


    The amazing #homesforbritain #relaytotherally participants just before the finish line

    Homes for Britain campaigners
  139. 'Personalities rule'

    BBC Radio 4

    Ken Clarke

    Ken Clarke's interview with Peter Hennessy is now airing on BBC Radio 4 in today's edition of "When The People Say Not Sure". He's been around the block a few times - and was even a whip in 1974 when Edward Heath formed a coalition. Over the years he's found that personalities rather than rules are usually the decisive factor. "It entirely depends on the personal reactions of the leading figures concerned," he says. "The British constitution has conventions but it has no rigid rules… the individual political leaders and the entourage react to the situation they find themselves in." Here's our story about his comments on the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

  140. 'Difficult decisions'

    Amidst the debate over the government's economic record, eyebrows have been raised by comments from Sir Amyas Morse, the head of the politically neutral National Audit Office. He said "radical surgery" had been carried out as part of the coalition's austerity programme without officials knowing "where the heart was". The prime minister's spokesman, responding this morning, said: "The government has had to take difficult decisions but we have reformed public finances."

  141. Targeting mental health

    The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Sad youth

    Following Nick Clegg's announcement at the weekend that the Budget will include £1.25bn for mental health, health minister Norman Lamb - himself a Lib Dem - says there was "overwhelming positivity" at the launch of his taskforce's report on the issue this morning. "We have the money from April of this year - £250m in the next financial year - to get straight on with getting every area of our country to develop their own transformation plans, of how they are going to change services," he tells The World At One. Labour has claimed the government has watered down the proposals, but Mr Lamb says he has been honest about the "central discrimination at the heart of the NHS" against mental health. "A bit of honesty from Labour wouldn't go amiss here," he adds. "They designed a system where they introduced comprehensive and politically very resonant waiting time standards, but they left mental health out from those standards and it completely dictates where the money goes."

  142. Listeners' Election

    The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Chris Mason is updating The World At One on the Listeners' Election project - looking at the issues which local people think the politicians should be talking about. Desktop readers can listen to the programme by clicking on the live coverage above - and if you have any issues that matter where you live, please do let us know.

  143. Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian columnist and Grazia political editor


    tweets: Still can't quite believe Mail hdline on NicolaSturgeon speech is 'Ms Bonkers Barnet flashes her majorities'+cartoon of EdM in her cleavage

  144. Troubled families 'disgrace'

    Eric Pickles

    Communities secretary Eric Pickles got a lot of positive headlines last week when he made a Commons statement about the troubled families programme. He declared that the lives of 105,000 families had been "turned around", saving the taxpayer around £1.2 billion. However, "the headline is untrue," Jonathan Portes, of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, states today. Because the troubled families programme is so complicated, he explains, even preliminary estimates from an independent source haven't arrived yet. "Frankly, this whole episode is disgraceful," Mr Portes fumes. "They are looking for positive stories about a programme for which it is simply too early to give any sort of verdict."

  145. Dan Hodges, commentator for the Telegraph and Total Politics


    tweets: Again, I know it's heresy to point this out, but Ashcroft national polls and constituency polls are now directly contradicting themselves.

  146. Official Secrets Act

    The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Labour MP Simon Danczuk

    There's disagreement this lunchtime about whether a change in the law is needed to give former police officers the confidence to come forward and reveal the truth about the Cyril Smith child abuse allegations. It follows Newsnight's story that the investigation probing the case was shut down shortly after Smith's arrest - and that officers were warned they would be pursued under the Official Secrets Act if they did not keep quiet. "I think they would need more change in legislation to enable them to feel comfortable in sharing what they do know about this," Labour MP Simon Danczuk (pictured above) tells The World At One. "I think we are at a stage where the government, where ministers have to make it very categorical." But Damian Green, the former policing minister, says such clarification has already been provided. "I think now the home secretary has made clear that clearly the Official Secrets Act doesn't apply if what you're revealing is serious criminality, I'd hope that would give them the confidence to come forward," he says.

  147. Overseas domestic workers

    House of Commons


    MPs are now debating a motion to overturn a government defeat in the Lords as they discuss the Modern Slavery Bill. Peers had voted to introduce protections for overseas domestic workers. These included allowing them to change their employer after they'd arrived in the UK, and extending their visa by up to 12 months at a time to work either for the same employer or a new one. In response, the government has come up with its own version that allows for overseas workers who've been determined to be a victim of slavery or human trafficking to be granted leave to remain in the UK. Home Office Karen Bradley insists she does "share and understand the sentiment behind" the Lords amendment.

  148. Boris and Mrs Cameron

    London Evening Standard


    David Cameron has given an interview to the London Evening Standard. In it he sings the praises of both his wife and Boris Johnson. Asked what keeps him sane, he replies: "Mrs Cameron. She is my light and dark, my support, my everything." On Boris, when asked if he could enter the cabinet immediately after being elected, the PM replies: "Boris can do anything, he defies all laws of political logic and gravity." But he adds: "I think he needs to focus on being Mayor, strongly. Being MP and the Mayor is quite a lot."

  149. Trojan Horse report

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage

    Graham Stuart, chair of the Commons' education committee, says the Trojan Horse scandal shows that Birmingham City Council "lacked courage to face up to it" because of "fears of being found to be culturally insensitive". What he and his team of MPs didn't find is evidence of serious Islamic extremism, but Nigel Farage says he's "sceptical" about that. There are up to 1,000 radicalised people in this country in Syria, the UKIP leader says. "There is a problem. Somewhere people are being radicalised. Clearly there is worry about schools." But Mr Stuart says all the reports into the Trojan Horse allegations have played down the extremism problem. He tells the Daily Politics the truth is "important" and, on Mr Farage's comments, adds: "Some might accuse him of a dog whistle on this."

  150. 'I'll probably win'

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Asked about his chances in South Thanet at the election, Nigel Farage says he's "travelling optimistically" and while he clearly doesn't want to count his chickens, he says he thinks he "probably" will win the seat.

  151. Tim Reid, political correspondent


    tweets: Farage says "I'm not going to get terribly exercised about" his UKIP MEP comparing a SG minister to convicted terrorist Abu Hamza

  152. Sam Macrory, BBC political producer


    tweets: Nigel Farage underlining his belief in the NHS. "If people can afford it, should people go private? Yes." #bbcdp

  153. Farage does God

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Asked if he believes in God, Nigel Farage says: "I do, but I'm a pretty lapsed Anglican." He adds: "I do think what we need to do is talk about Christian values in our country. That is a different thing but very, very important." He develops the point into a full-blown attack on the "small number" of Muslims who he claims "have decided they will campaign to get rid of our constitution and change our entire way of life".

  154. Farage on gay marriage

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage insists he supports same-sex marriage, but says UKIP thought it was "extraordinary" that David Cameron made it a flagship policy. He suggests a court case could be brought at the European Court of Human Rights some time in the future which rules that "those of religious faith are being forced to conduct services against their wishes".

  155. Ashcroft polls latest

    Lord Ashcroft has released his latest batch of polling from marginal seats. He's been revisiting constituencies where the Tories had a slim lead over Labour to see if the narrowing national polls are reflected "where it matters". Here's some highlights:

    • In Worcester, which had a Labour lead of around 2% last October, the Conservatives are now ahead
    • In Croydon Central, where Labour had the smallest lead of any London seat, the Labour lead has fallen from 6% to 4%
    • The UKIP vote share ranged from 10% in Wirral West and City of Chester to 17% in Southampton Itchen
  156. Martyn Brown, Daily Express political correspondent


    tweets: Nigel Farage is like a web browser. He seems to have an inbuilt 'clear history' device. #bbcdp

  157. Farage on immigration

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Immigration is an issue the mainstream parties just aren't interested in, Nigel Farage says. "We're going into an election campaign where I suspect the other parties would rather we didn't discuss this at all, because they know there's nothing we can do about immigration from within the European Union." In the context of upheaval in the eurozone, he adds, the consequences are "massive".

  158. Farage on immigration

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage, today's guest on the Daily Politics, politely invites the media to back off in their constant demands for policy from UKIP ahead of the party's manifesto publication. Pressed on immigration, he's not prepared to offer a target because they're "ridiculous" - but accepts he's aiming for net migration of somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 seats a year.

  159. James Kirkup, political reporter at the Telegraph


    tweets: Most striking thing abt @LordAshcroft marginal polls: 60%+ voters are economically optimistic but seats still leaning to Labour.

  160. Dugher on Jeremy Clarkson

    Earlier Labour's shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher was asked about the current Jeremy Clarkson situation - he, is of course, suspended from the BBC pending an investigation into a "fracas" with a producer. Speaking at the LabourList pre-election conference, he said: 'When you look at it, there's a consistent pattern of pretty obnoxious, racist behaviour." He added: "The idea he should be on a publicly funded broadcaster is for the stone age."

  161. Lib Dems on inheritance tax

    After Vince Cable attacked George Osborne's "cynical" inheritance tax plans earlier, the party has produced more anti-Tory lines. "Tories just care about the best off and this says a lot about their priorities," a spokesman says. "And, while we would ask the best off to pay a little more in tax to help finish the job of balancing the books, the Tories would do it solely on the backs of the poor. Our tax priority, is, was and will be, income tax cuts for millions of low and middle earners."

  162. Victim's law

    House of Commons


    Geraldine and Peter McGinty

    During justice questions, shadow justice minister Dan Jarvis says the case of Geraldine and Peter McGinty shows the need for a "victim's law" which Labour is proposing. The parents of Colin McGinty, who died in 2001, overheard a judge saying victim statements made "no difference" to parole decisions. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says he has met the family and the Parole Board has "apologised to them".

  163. Surplus questions

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Business minister Matt Hancock engages in some prolonged badgering of Toby Perkins at the end of their debate. "Do you want an absolute surplus?" Mr Hancock repeatedly asks the shadow Labour minister. By the end of the next parliament, Mr Perkins repeatedly replies.

  164. Farage on the deficit

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage isn't impressed by the Conservatives' record in government on dealing with the deficit. "George Osborne will not stand up tomorrow and apologise and say I've doubled the national debt," he says. "What I'd like to see is, are there actually going to be some credible plans to cut the size of the deficit?" He says the economy may be recovering, "but it's all been fuelled by massive deficit financing".

  165. UKIP on inheritance tax

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    "I would get rid of inheritance tax," Nigel Farage declares. In areas like London, he adds, "this would be the only way anybody could get on the property ladder."

  166. Inheritance tax

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Business Minister Matt Hancock, asked about inheritance tax after being pressed on the News Channel earlier, again says that the Conservatives had proposed changing it in the last manifesto and that an increase in the threshold hadn't happened because it had been vetoed by the Liberal Democrats. "I don't know anything about these leaks that are in the papers," he admits.

  167. 'Simplistic' UKIP

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    "What I want to see is the minimum wage being the exception and not the rule," Nigel Farage adds. "You do that by stopping this unmitigated flow [of migrants]." Labour's Toby Perkins replies by saying that in his Chesterfield constituency there wouldn't be a single hotel open without migrant labour. "The simplistic solutions that UKIP propose are not backed by people who actually understand how our economy works," Mr Perkins adds.

  168. 'Maximum wage'

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage

    "What is the point of an economic recovery?" Matt Hancock continues. "We want to see the economy recover so that we see pay go up at all levels." UKIP leader Nigel Farage says "we're missing the big picture", which he claims is that Labour failed to foresee that the "mass of unskilled labour" arriving in Britain resulted in the minimum wage becoming the "maximum wage". He doesn't think putting it up by 20p makes much difference. Mr Farage says he wouldn't scrap the minimum wage though.

  169. National minimum wage debate

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Matt Hancock and Toby Perkins on the Daily Politics

    Business minister Matt Hancock, now on the Daily Politics, says the national minimum wage increase is "a big step forward - the biggest rise in minimum wage since before the crash". He says it can only happen "because we've got a clear plan for making sure we've got a strong and robust recovery". But his Labour shadow Toby Perkins accuses the Tories of not believing in the national minimum wage "in the same way they don't believe in the National Health Service".

  170. Francis Elliott, political editor for the Times


    tweets: It's looking increasingly grim for Esther McVey in Wirral West @LordAshcroft poll has Labour lead up 5 from 1.

  171. May2015, New Statesman election site


    tweets: Great #Ashcroft polls for Labour. Doing v well in tough Tory-Labour English marginals. Could definitely still be largest party.

  172. National minimum wage debate

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    "The problem with the chancellor is he gives with one hand and takes away with the other," TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady says. "We've had real cuts to in-work benefits, hikes to VAT, cuts to services that are particularly important to ordinary working people. This is not as good news as the chancellor would like to have us believe."

    Jonathan Isaby, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, warns the parties against getting into a "bidding war" over the issue. "Frances rightly talks about people giving and taking. Let's remember George Osborne still takes a lot of the money from the lowest paid in tax and then gives it back to them" via the benefits system. "We think it would be far more sensible to take less money from them in the first place."

  173. May2015, New Statesman election site


    tweets: #Ashcroft: Chester - LAB +11; Croydon C - LAB +4; Halesowen - LAB +2; Nuneaton - LAB +5; Itchen - LAB +8; Swindon S - tie; Wirral W - LAB +5; Worcester - CON +6

  174. Farage on child abuse

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    The UKIP leader tells the Daily Politics he was initially sceptical about the child abuse scandal. "I started off being a bit sceptical about all the gossip when I first heard it but it does appear something pretty awful happened in the police force… it almost seemed to me too incredible to be true." Mr Farage says some kind of inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of things, but he wonders if perhaps it's all just too long ago.

  175. Mike Smithson, polling analyst


    tweets: Lord Ashcroft's latest marginals polling finds 5% CON to LAB swings in seats. Not good for Tories. His Dec batch had 3.5% swing

  176. Farage hour

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage is the opening guest on today's Daily Politics, which is now on BBC2. In fact, he'll be in the studio for the whole of the programme. If you're reading this on a desktop you can watch it by clicking on the live coverage tab above.

  177. Paul Waugh, editor of


    tweets: Labour steps up pressure on Grant Shapps. MP Graham Jones has written to Parl Standards Cssner: "There must now be a full investigation"

  178. Housing rally

    Here's a bit more on the Homes For Britain rally. The event, which is taking place from 14:00 at Westminster Central Hall, will see 2,500 people come together for what's being called 'the biggest housing rally ever'. Political speakers include Nigel Farage, Hilary Benn, Grant Shapps, Caroline Lucas and Ed Davey. "This rally will bring together every part of the housing world - from private developers to homelessness campaigners, from social housing providers to private landlords," its organisers say. There's more information on their website.

  179. 'Abject failure'

    House of Commons


    Andy Slaughter

    Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter raises the government's cuts to the legal aid budget, which MPs on the justice committee have been very critical of. He says the "abject failure" documented in their recent report is a "fitting epitaph to the least competent lord chancellor since the Reformation". Justice Minister Shailesh Vara replies: "I don't hear him or his boss saying they're going to be reversing any of the cuts we've made."

  180. Sore throat 'unkindness'

    House of Commons


    Simon Hughes

    Speaker John Bercow jumps to the defence of Simon Hughes, whose answers in justice questions are being delivered in a rather croaky voice. "He's obviously struggling with a very severe sore throat," Mr Bercow says. "It seems a very considerable unkindness." Mr Hughes, who has been in the government for less than a year, says Justice Secretary Chris Grayling offered him the chance of opting out. "But I volunteered to do my duty," he says. The speaker declares: "The minister's virtue is not in doubt." A good-tempered start to the Commons day, then.

  181. Commons day begins

    House of Commons


    Prayers are completed in the Commons chamber, which means justice questions is underway. The first set of questions are on protecting children at risk of grooming. Lib Dem justice minister Simon Hughes, who has rather a croaky voice today, says "government is absolutely committed to making sure the law is as tough as it needs be". He says the problem is that young people haven't been listened to in the past.

  182. Going underground

    Here are David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the aforementioned Crossrail tunnel. Not just the hi-vis vest, beloved by all politicians, but a full safety suit for the two of them today.

    Nick Clegg and David Cameron with Crossrail workers
  183. Iain Martin, political journalist


    tweets: *Any* cooperation between Lab/SNP would drive sensible Labour people in England to rebel, because it would threaten to destroy English Lab.

  184. Coming up from noon

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Nigel Farage and weather map

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage will be the guest of the day on Tuesday's Daily Politics with Jo Coburn from 12:00 GMT. They'll be looking at a montage of some key moments for the party. Watch it here.

    There'll also be a look ahead to tomorrow's Budget with TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady and Jonathan Isaby, from the TaxPayers' Alliance. Also, education select committee chairman, the Conservative MP Graham Stuart, will be interviewed about its inquiry into extremism in schools, and the so-called Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham.

  185. James Landale, deputy political editor for BBC News