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Summary

  1. Updates on Wednesday, 31 May 2017
  2. MP hopefuls for Wellingborough debate issues ahead of the general election
  3. The candidates taking part are:
  4. Peter Bone (Conservative)
  5. Jonathan Hornett (Green)
  6. Chris Nelson (Liberal Democrat)
  7. Andrea Watts (Labour)
  8. Allan Shipham (UKIP) is also standing, but did not attend the debate

Live Reporting

By Kris Holland

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The debate is over

That's it for our live coverage of the Wellingborough constituency debate. Thanks for joining us.

You've been reading the views of four of the five candidates standing in the general election on Thursday, 8 June. UKIP's candidate Allan Shipham was unable to attend, despite being invited.

From 07:30 on Thursday, we'll bring you the Northampton North debate, live from Eurotowers on Round Spinney Industrial Estate.

Our regular live updates for Northamptonshire resume here.

Lib Dem: Security and defence

"One thing we would do is increase police funding. The reason we have had to see so many troops on the police is because there aren't enough police," said Chris Nelson (Liberal Democrates).

"I think we also need to make more multilateral approaches to world problems. We need to solve the reasons that people are angry in the first place. We need to get everyone around the table on Syria to try and sort that out.

"I agree that we need to try and meet the 2% target for GDP to spend on our armed forces, because sometimes using our armed forces is necessary, for example in Bosnia and Kosovo where some horrible things were happening.

"Jeremy Corbyn is a pacifist, he is entitled to his opinions and I agreed with him on Iraq - but there are some circumstances where using our armed forces is necessary."

Chris Nelson Lib Dem
BBC

Liberal Democrat manifesto on defence:

  • Spend 2% of GDP on defence
  • Spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid
  • Suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia
  • Recruit STEM graduates to be armed forces engineers, providing 'golden handshakes' of up to £10,000
  • Work to lead international nuclear disarmament efforts
  • Provide free further or higher education for anyone who has served in the armed forces for 12 years or more

Labour: Security and defence

Andrea Watts (Labour) says: "Jeremy Corbyn has always stood by his stance on the nuclear detterent for 30 odd years and he has still been elected as an MP from his constituency; a lot of people don't agree with Trident.

"Mr Bone [Conservative candidate] says 'you have to be a strong leader', well a strong leader should also be negotiating and trying to find a peaceful way to sort things out in this world. Not everyone thinks fighting fire with fire is the issue.

"He has spoken to the IRA and Hamas in the past and the help he was given from Mo Mowlam helped kick-start the peace process in Northern Ireland.

"He's not the only one who has engaged with what Mr Bone seems to describe as unsavoury people. Theresa May also praised Sinn Fein on the peace process when Martin McGuiness died. She praised him. She understood that you have to negotiate with people like this to get a peace settlement.

"As for Jeremy on Trident, it is the Labour Party's decision over whether we keep it. We are a democratic party and we have voted to keep it and update it."

Andrea Watts
BBC

Labour manifesto on defence:

  • Support the renewal of the Trident submarine system
  • Work with international partners and the UN on multilateral disarmament "to create a nuclear-free world"
  • Commit to the Nato benchmark of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence
  • Will have a complete strategic defence and security review
  • Insulate the homes of disabled veterans for free

UKIP: Security and defence

Allan Shipham, who is standing for UKIP in the Wellingborough constituency, was invited to the debate but this morning told us he was no longer available to attend.

Nationally, UKIP's manifesto on defence includes proposals to:

  • Integrate mental wellbeing monitoring into existing medical examinations for serving armed forces personnel in potentially traumatic or "at risk" roles
  • Retain Britain's independent nuclear deterrent - Spend "a genuine" 2% of GDP on defence, and scale up defence spending by an additional £1bn per year by the end of the parliament
  • Build eight halfway house veterans' hostels and assign 500 affordable rent homes every year to ex-forces personnel
  • Close down the Department for International Development and repeal the law requiring the UK to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid
  • Commission a new ocean-going hospital ship

Conservatives: Security and defence

Peter Bone (Conservative) says: "Looking after the safety of British citizens is the number one issue of any government. It seems to me we have a choice between Theresa May with her strong and stable leadership, compared to Jeremy Corbyn who doesn't believe in Trident, wouldn't press the nuclear button, wouldn't kill terrorists. He's completely weak on security.

"I personally think at this time of great tension in the world, we need someone who is going to be a "bloody difficult woman" to lead the county. That's what we need.

"You've got to tell the other side that you'd push the button so they don't press the button. We can't have terrorists or rogue countries thinking 'the United Kingdom isn't going to do anything to us if we take action against them', he [Corbyn] is hopeless on security. He may be a very nice man, but he's not the man to lead the country.

"He is a pacifist, I think he is offering a genuine choice: You can disarm our nuclear deterrent, you can let terrorists roam the world and you can talk to them. But I want someone who is going to stand up for our interests. That deals with terrorists, that deals with ISIS. This really is where we need strong and stable leadership."

Conservative manifesto on defence:

  • Spend at least 2% of GDP on defence and increase the budget by at least 0.5% above inflation in every year of the new parliament
  • Pledge to "maintain" the overall size of the armed forces
  • Retain the Trident continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent
  • Better compensation for injured personnel and the families of those killed in combat

Green Party: Security and defence

The other issue at the Wellingborough debate is that of security and defence; particularly topical in light of last week's terror attack at Manchester Arena, which killed 22 people.

Jonathan Hornett (Green Party) says: "I would like the government to stop cutting the police force. Cuts in the numbers of officers on the beat has reduced the visible presence of the police and in my view made it easier for people to lurk around and feel that they can get away with things.

From crimes like speeding - to petty crime - all sorts of crimes seem to be a lot more prevalent since the number of police officers came down. I would support the government enforcing the police force and raising the number of officers.

Green Party candidate
BBC

"Regarding the military, I feel we should focus on our security at home first.

"I believe the best way of doing this is not to frighten people by putting police with the army on the streets purely to enlarge the police force.

"The police do such an amazing job for our country and they are struggling at the moment. A police community support officer said you would be lucky to see more than a couple of people at Wellingborough police station.

Green Party manifesto on defence:

  • Cancel Trident replacement, saving at least £110bn over the next 30 years
  • Increase the overseas aid budget from 0.7% of GDP to 1.0% of GDP
  • An ethical foreign policy that builds capacity for conflict resolution, and ends support for aggressive wars of intervention
  • No more arms sales to oppressive regimes

General election 2017: Manifesto guide on where the parties stand

Labour: Education

Andrea Watts (Labour) says: "We need better childcare. Sure Start centres are closing, we need to halt that and invest more in Sure Start centres.

"We need to provide 30 hours more free childcare to working parents and provide free school meals as Jonathan [Hornett, Green Party] has said. We need a cap size on classes for five, six and seven-year-old children and to reinstate extra for older classes if and when the resources become available. Education to me should be from the start to the end, so further education should also be available for everybody."

Posed with the question of how Labour could be trusted, after Jeremy Corbyn stumbled over the figures when quizzed on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour programme yesterday, Ms Watts added: "We have given a breakdown on our costings through taxation. Tax on the wealthiest 5% of people, and the loophole for off-shore taxation. The cost of the 30 hours free childcare is £5.3bn.

"Jeremy should have known (the figures), but we have not had any costings from the Conservative party on how they are going to fund theirs, or Liberal Democrats. We have given a full list of how we're going to fund all of our causes going forward. It is very unfair that the media seem to be picking on Labour at every turn when we have given full costings."

Green Party: Education

Jonathan Hornett (Green Party) says: "We stand for free education, we would scrap tuition fees and we would refund all of the student debt that has already been paid. We have got some excellent schools, brilliant teachers and obviously a lot of talented students locally.

"We would like to support them - as Chris [Nelson] has said - the government is looking to cut millions of pounds off local educational budget and we totally oppose this. We stand with teachers in opposing this.

"We would like all cuts reversed, we would like to maintain free school meals. We would like to see school lunches still fully funded because we believe children learn better on a full stomach."

Lib Dem: Education

Chris Nelson (Liberal Democrats) says: "We will invest an extra £7bn in education for younger people - that's more than any of the other parties. We'll fund it by reversing the cut in corporation tax and getting rid of the married couples tax allowance.

"Locally, in Wellingborough and Rushden we're seeing that the Conservative plans for schools for 2019 sees school funding cut by 6m. That obviously is going to make it harder for schools that are already struggling to get the results they need to improve. That is a concern for me.

"I disagree with Peter - I think the academy system hasn't worked. We need to get politicians out of the curriculum by setting up an independent curriculum authority. I think that is a better way of improving standards.

"We need collaborative working, so different schools and different professional teachers being able to help each other and share their knowledge and skills. The academy chains have not got the experience or the expertise to fulfill the gap left by the demise of the local education authority. That might explain why the government is so keen for them not to be Ofsted inspected."

Conservatives: Education

The first issue on the agenda for the Wellingborough candidates at Rush 2 The Den - a youth club and children's centre in Rushden - is education.

In 2016, the regional schools commissioner wrote to those responsible for schools in Northamptonshire to say "too many" schools in the county were "not good enough", and below the national average when it came to exam results.

Group pic
BBC

Speaking first on the issue, Peter Bone (Conservatives) says: "Education in Northamptonshire is not good enough. It's below the national average and all the MPs in Northamptonshire have been working with the government to try and sort things out.

"When the general election was announced, the Northamptonshire MPs were with the education minister Nick Gibb talking about how to improve education across the county. In my particular area, I have real concerns about what is happening at the Wrenn Academy and Rushden Academy, and the collapse of the Education Fellowship Trust.

"It's not the academy system failing; in the Hatton Academy, we have one of the best schools in the county. It's how each school is run. We were due to have another meeting on this issue two weeks later and that hasn't happened because of the general election. But whoever is elected, one of the top matters will be to deal with that problem."

Peter Bone
BBC

Asked by BBC Radio Northampton's debate chair Stuart Linnell how the Conservative Party proposed to change the existing funding formula, Mr Bone added: "One of the problems we have in Northamptonshire is that we're a fast expanding area. Government have these wonderful funding formulas and they try and say 'you have this number of people, therefore you should get this amount of money'. So we should get more money. But then they say 'we can't give you that because we'd have to take it away from other places'.

"We've got a new fair funding scheme for education, which is right. We should balance it out which means more money coming into Northamptonshire. But I bet that down the line, some smart civil servant will say to me: 'Ah, Peter, we can't do that because we'd have to take it away from somewhere else. Whoever is elected here is going to have to constantly fight to get our fair share of public funding.

"I agree in having fair funding formulas, I just wish they would implement it."

Meet the candidates

These are the candidates we’ll be hearing from in our debate:

Peter Bone (Conservative):

Peter Bone
BBC

Chris Nelson (Liberal Democrat):

Chris Nelson
BBC

Jonathan Hornett (Green):

Jonathan Hornett
BBC

Andrea Watts (Labour):

Andrea Watts
BBC

Allan Shipham (UKIP) is also standing in the Wellingborough constituency. He was invited to the debate but this morning told us he was no longer available to attend.

'A Conservative stronghold'

Alongside Wellingborough itself, this constituency contains Rushden and Higham Ferrers as well as a large rural area.

Back in Tony Blair’s heyday, Labour did take this seat for two elections running – but since then Conservative Peter Bone has steadily increased his majority. In 2015 the majority stood at more than 16,000.

A surge in support at the last election saw UKIP move into second place – the party’s candidate this time is Allan Shipham.

UKIP beat Labour by less than 30 votes last time out and Labour’s Andrea Watts will be wanting a significant improvement.

Chris Nelson is standing again for the Liberal Democrats, while Jonathan Hornett is the Green candidate.

The 2015 results from the BBC's general election pages:

2015 graphic
BBC

Welcome to the Wellingborough general election debate

Hello and thank you for joining us for our fifth Northamptonshire general election debate.

We've been travelling across Northamptonshire to meet the people who want to become one of the county's seven MPs on 8 June.

Today we'll be hearing from candidates in the Wellingborough constituency.