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  1. Voters question SW politicians ahead of the general election
  2. Watch the debate on BBC One at 22:50
  3. Updates on Wednesday 29 April

Live Reporting

By Andrew Segal

All times stated are UK

Get involved


Election 2015

That's all from our Election debate special, thanks for taking part and letting us know your comments.

Don't forget you can keep up-to-date with all the latest news on the general election on the BBC's

Election 2015. We'll be back with the latest news, sport, travel and weather on Thursday and we hope you can join us then.

'Well handled'

Janine Moyse

tweets: Well handled Justin Leigh @BBCSpotlight @BBCOne @marjonuni #spotlightdebate

Via Twitter

Martin Dorey

tweets: Watching the #spotlightdebate and wishing there was a little fire in the eyes of the righteous. Where's the charisma?


tweets: Take more from those who create wealth and give it to those that can't be bothered #spotlightdebate


tweets: Prosecute the bankers followed by Labour who helped them get away with it! #SpotlightDebate

Taxation: the manifestos

Election 2015

There is

a guide to political parties' positions on key issues like taxation.


Politicians unveil all manner of eye-catching offers in their efforts to win general election votes. But what if you could pick and choose policies from different parties? Browse the sets of pledges to

compile your own manifesto.

Tax avoidance and possible revenue

Andrew Segal


Question from Steven Carey: Every party has identified tax avoidance and evasion as a source of extra revenue. What specific steps do you intend, as this is key to delivering the promises made by your party - and, if this will raise so much money, why haven't you done it already?

Election debate

Sarah Newton (Cons): Over the course of the last Parliament, we managed to get an extra £7.5bn a year from closing tax loopholes. To bring money offshore back onshore, it has to be done with international agreement, which takes time. We have new crimes and punishments, and tightened up the system to stop it happening again. That's a key part of our deficit reduction plan.

  • Ben Bradshaw (Lab): We live in a different world because of austerity. We'd change the rule on
    non-doms [non-domicile residents who only pay tax on UK earnings] as a start. We'd increase powers for the HMRC [HM Revenue and Customs]. We're the one few countries that hasn't jailed anyone for tax evasion. We've held our hands up and said we didn't do enough to regulate the banks.
  • Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem): There are issues with the tax system, on income tax and capital gains. We want to invest more in HMRC work by having more people skilled in this sort of work to go after that money and then we can pull more of that in. They will make for the country more than they cost.
  • Steve Crowther (UKIP): Tax evasion should be prosecuted as far as possible and people should be jailed for it. Tax avoidance is a function of government. Saying we're suddenly going to abolish it is rubbish. These major corporations that want to pay tax abroad, that would end if we came out of EU because it is a function of EU treaties. If we were out, we could have our own rules.
  • Emily McIvor (Greens): This has been going on for decades. The Greens have always wanted to treat multi-national corporations with great caution and not given tax breaks they have been given. We will reform the tax system and close loopholes. We will reintroduce the tax dodging bill. This has to be tackled urgently, and we must reduce the power multi-nationals have in decision-making.

NHS funding: parties clash

Election 2015

Parties clashed over the

future funding for the English NHS in a Daily Politics debate as the health secretary was accused of failing to answer the question over how a £8bn pledge over the next Parliament would be funded.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt said the government has already increased spending by £7bn over the last five years, when asked where the money would come. He said: "Look at what we have actually delivered for the NHS in this Parliament".

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said Labour was the only party with the "fully-funded plan" to increase spending on the NHS.

Debate heats up over NHS

Presenter Justin Leigh demands answers from the candidates as they discuss the NHS after passionate questions from the audience.

Election debate


Andrew Segal


Deborah Hodgson asks: With the frequent news stories of failing and under-resourced hospitals in the South West, can any party really heal our NHS?

  • Ben Bradshaw (Lab): We will start with £2bn raised in taxes from tobacco companies. The NHS's fragmentation is as a result of Andrew Lansley's disastrous health bill which caused an avalanche of privatisation and fragmentation. We would return to the NHS as the preferred provider [in any new privatised contracts].
  • Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem): We'll make changes to capital gains tax and changes to other policies for more funding. We have an aging population and we can treat many more conditions. That is a challenge that faces all of us. We should also grow public spending as we can afford to do so to provide more social care services [after councils suffered budget cuts].
  • Sarah Newton (Cons): To ensure the future of the NHS, we have to get the politics out of it. We have to ask experts within the NHS to ask how the NHS can improve its service, and ask how much is that going to cost, then we'll give them the money to do it.
  • Steve Crowther (UKIP): We are pledging £3bn more for the NHS, costed and paid for. We are fully committed to the NHS: free, publically-owned and and free at the point of delivery. It is the one thing the pubic wants us [politicians] running for you.
  • Emily McIvor (Greens): There is no place for profit within the NHS. Privatisation has cost money, leaving the service vulnerable, and mental health services are underfunded. The cost of the NHS has been underestimated by all of these parties for generations. The Greens will put in £12bn more every year.

Via Twitter


tweets: How can #Tories say we need more council houses, when they are advocating RTB? How can occupants buy them? #spotlightdebate

George Hellis

tweets: Why not give tax relief on rent? This will bring landlords into the tax net too #spotlightdebate

Angela Anthony

tweets: #spotlightdebate Why aren't owners of empty houses made to sell to provide social housing?

Naomi Lang

tweets: Rental sector and housing key issues for me. Can't afford to rent or buy. #spotlightdebate

Where can I afford to live?

BBC Business

Whether you are house-hunting or just daydreaming, try using

this calculator to see where in the country you could afford to live - and would it be cheaper to rent or buy?

The affordability of housing varies widely across the country and will depend on whether you want to rent or buy. House prices and rents can differ as a result of market factors such as the state of the local economy, transport links and the supply of housing.

Housing: Affordable? Buyable?

Andrew Segal


Nic Perrem asked the panel: If I vote for your party, how are you going to help me afford my own home?

  • Emily McIvor (Greens): We want to boost the social rented sector and build 500,000 new social homes, and we need the [government's] affordability measure [for rents] ... to be based on households' income rather than value of homes; as, in much of the South West, wages are low and and house prices are high. We also want to remove the right to buy raise minimum wage to a living wage.
  • Ben Bradshaw (Lab): We have to increase supply, that's the most important thing, and look at the private rented sector. The maddest policy I have ever heard is from the Conservatives to force housing associations to sell houses. We need more council housing and housing associations, not less.
  • Sarah Newton (Cons): There are new record levels of new council houses being built and it's essential we keep doing that. We need housing associations to build genuinely affordable homes, but it's not ridiculous if people want to buy their home. We want them to be able to do that, and that money can help build more social housing, like-for-like replacement.
  • Steve Crowther (UKIP): Housing needs to be fundamentally overhauled. We don't object to people buying houses in principle, but we object to lots of public money to allow people to do so. Another priority should also be in small unit building, not planning for five or six-bedroom housing that nobody can afford.
  • Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem): There is a gap of social housing because of social homes previously being sold off by old governments. We also have to look at private rents being driven up and infrastructure. If you build a row of houses and sell them, and build another row, unless there is a place to fund proper infrastructure, it won't work.

Get involved

Mai Opine ‏

tweets on the Trident issue: Trident is UK trying to stay a world power, 1. most countries don't have nuclear weapons. 2. they make us more of a target #spotlightdebate

Ex-military chiefs: Scrapping Trident nuclear subs 'irresponsible folly'

A decision not to renew the UK's nuclear deterrent would be "irresponsible folly",

a group of ex-senior military officials has said.


In a letter to

The Times, 20 former defence chiefs said to "abandon" Britain's four Trident submarines would be "an enormous gamble" which could threaten "the survival of our nation".

How much will renewing Trident cost?

Anthony Reuben

Head of statistics, BBC News

A decision on whether to replace the UK's Trident nuclear-armed submarines is due to be made next year, although the current systems will not have to be taken out of service until 2028.

Trident graphic

What's the truth behind the politicians' claims on the campaign trail? Our experts at

BBC Reality Check investigate the facts, and wider stories, behind the soundbites. Read the latest updates or follow us on

Poverty and Trident

Andrew Segal


Alan Lemin's question was answered as follows:

  • Sarah Newton (Cons): The first responsibility of a government is to protect our nation. It's not an either/or question. We have to ensure everybody has decent education, helping people out of poverty. Our plans for the next five years are to help people out of poverty. We [also] absolutely have to use all our capacity to defend our nation.
  • Ben Bradshaw (Lab): Most of the people using my local foodbank are in work, that is a shocking thing. It's a false choice that a country can't look after the poor and maintain its defences. It's not either/or. However, if I thought getting rid of the deterrent would work, I would. This is the last moment to give up our nuclear deterrent unilaterally.
  • Emily McIvor (Greens): The three main parties support nuclear weapons because they don't want to appear weak. The days of weapons of mass destruction are over and the threats to our security are coming from terrorism and cybercrime. We need to rethink security and Trident isn't doing that.
  • Steve Crowther (UKIP): We have to solve both problems. [On keeping Trident] Danger in the world is escalating in a number of different ways: we have ISIS, and then we have the old fashioned stand off in Europe. Nuclear weapons are no longer simply the dominant force, but there are states close to points of difficulty that have these weapons.
  • Dan Rogerson (Lib Dem): We want to scale back Trident and we want to be part of negotiations of moving towards a post-nuclear weapon environment. We want to work with other comparable powers that have not taken up nuclear weapons to move forward.

Debate underway

The first question is from Alan Lemin:

Election debate

He asks: "With an estimated 14m people living in absolute poverty in Britain, and more than a million using food banks, how can it be justified to spend billions of pounds on the renewal of Trident?"

Preparing to face the audience

Claire Hawke

BBC Local Live

The candidates take their places on the podiums.

Election debate

L-R: Emily McIvor (Green), Dan Rogerson (Liberal Democrat), Sarah Newton (Conservative), Ben Bradshaw (Labour) and Steve Crowther (UKIP).

Election 2015

There are just eight days to go until the general election on 7 May.

Find who's standing in your area with

BBC Election 2015.

Debate panellist: Emily McIvor (Green Party)

Emily McIvor is the Green Party candidate for
Yeovil in Somerset.

Emily McIvor. Pic: Emily McIvor
Emily McIvor

The former coordinator of the South West Green Party has contested local, national and European elections for the party. She has also worked as a senior EU policy advisor for the Humane Society International, and is a former director of policy at the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research.

She will be looking to unseat the Liberal Democrats, who held the seat in 2010 with 55.7% of the votes.

Debate panellist: Steve Crowther (UKIP)

Steve Crowther is Executive Chairman of UKIP, taking on this post in his party in 2010.

Steve Crowther

He has previously worked as a journalist and press officer in the 1980s and is looking to take

North Devon from the Liberal Democrats, who have held the Parliamentary seat in the area since 1992.

Debate panellist: Dan Rogerson (Liberal Democrat)

Liberal Democrat

Dan Rogerson has been MP for
North Cornwall since 2005 until the recent dissolution of Parliament.

Dan Rogerson

He joined the party while still at school and worked in local government and for a university before entering the House of Commons. Under the Coalition he was appointed a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in October 2013.

At the last election he kept the seat with 48.1% of the votes with the Conservatives got 41.7%, UKIP 4.9% and Labour 4.2%.

Debate panellist: Ben Bradshaw (Labour)

Ben Bradshaw is a former journalist who worked at Exeter's Express and Echo newspaper and the BBC. He has been Labour MP for
Exeter since 1997 until the recent dissolution of Parliament.

Ben Bradshaw

While his party was in government until 2010, he held several ministerial posts, working at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health, finishing his time in government as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport until the Coalition took office in 2010.

In 2010, he held his seat with 38.2% of the votes - a majority of 2,700 - with the Conservatives in second place with 33% of the vote.

Debate panellist: Sarah Newton (Conservative)


Sarah Newton has been MP for
Truro and Falmouth since 2010 until the recent dissolution of Parliament and is Deputy Chairman of her party.

Sarah Newton

A former worker in the financial sector, she held posts at Citibank and American Express before becoming a director of Age Concern England in the 1990s. She has also helped set up and run the UK branch of International Longevity Centre, a think tank that looks at how to deal with the challenges of an ageing population.

She won her constituency from the previously strong Liberal Democrats, who had held the seat for decades, with a majority of just 435 votes. She has served on Parliament's Ecclesiastical Committee and the Commons' Science and Technology Committee.

The panellists

Election 2015

There are five candidates taking part in tonight's debate:

  • Sarah Newton (Conservative) standing in the Truro and Falmouth constituency
  • Ben Bradshaw (Labour) standing in Exeter
  • Dan Rogerson (Liberal Democrat) standing in North Cornwall
  • Steve Crowther (UKIP) standing in North Devon
  • Emily McIvor (Green Party) standing in Yeovil

Good evening

Andrew Segal


We'll be bringing you live updates from a special BBC Spotlight political debate that'll be starting in a few minutes.

Spotlight graphic

A panel of politicians from across the region will be answering questions from an audience on topics such as Trident, the NHS, affordable housing and tax avoidance. Get involved in tonight's debate by

tweeting or sending us a message on