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Summary

  1. MP hopefuls for Northampton North debate issues ahead of the general election
  2. The candidates taking part are:
  3. Jonathan Bullock (UKIP)
  4. Michael Ellis (Conservative)
  5. Sally Keeble (Labour)
  6. Steve Miller (Green)
  7. George Smid (Liberal Democrat)
  8. Updates on Thursday, 1 June 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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The debate is over

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

You've been reading the views of the five candidates standing in the general election on Thursday, 8 June.

From 08:30 on Friday, we'll bring you the Northampton South debate, live from the Super Sausage Cafe in the town.

Our regular live updates for Northamptonshire will now resume.

'Would you rather solve world hunger, or end all wars?'

The final question for the Northampton North candidates comes from Little Harrowden Primary School student Megan, who is 8 years old.

In a pre-recorded audio clip, she asks: "There are two buttons in front of you; one is to stop the world from starving, the other is to stop the world from wars. Which one would you press?"

Debate pic
BBC

Michael Ellis (Conservatives), says: "I would stop the world from wars because then people would be alive, and then we could prevent hunger."

Sally Keeble (Labour), says: "I'd press the one to stop wars, because an awful lot of hunger and starvation is conflict-related; it's one of the highest causes of all the other difficulties that people face."

George Smid (Liberal Democrats), says: "To be different, I would press the stop starving button. The reason is if people starve, they go to war."

Jonathan Bullock (UKIP), says: "I would stop the wars, then sort out starvation."

Steve Miller (Green Party), says: "Stop the wars, because a lot of the starvation problems are refugees trying to get to a better world."

What does the UKIP manifesto say about benefits?

  • Maintain the triple lock on state pensions.
  • Reverse cuts to care budgets and put £2bn every year into social care.

'UKIP will protect vulnerable people' - Jonathan Bullock

"By controlling immigration we can get our workforce back into work and not have cheap, unskilled labour coming into this country unmanaged," Jonathan Bullock (UKIP) says.

Jonathan Bullock
BBC

"We'd also get rid of the 'bedroom tax'. When I was a councillor I saw examples of people - particularly disabled people who use their spare room for equipment - being punished.

"We need to look after people who are genuinely in need - the Conservative Party haven't done that, but UKIP will."

What does the Green Party manifesto say about benefits?

  • Move towards a system of a "universal basic income".
  • Reinstate housing benefit for under 21s.
  • Abolish the "bedroom tax".

'Introduce a universal basic income' - Steve Miller

Steve Miller (Green Party) says: "As Michael Ellis has already said, one of the problems with the benefits system is that work doesn't pay. People find themselves in a trap where they get their benefits but as they start earning income their benefits reduce and they end up with the same amount.

"The Green Party suggestion is to pilot a scheme for a universal basic income. It has been tried in Finland and in Ontario, Canada. We are talking about a universal income of about £60 a week, and projections are that it will take 6.4% of children out of poverty and reduce the number of people claiming income protection by about 12%."

What does the Liberal Democrat manifesto say about benefits?

  • Keep the triple lock on pensions and free bus passes.
  • Withdraw winter fuel payments for wealthy pensioners.
  • Reverse cuts to Universal Credit.
  • Uprate working age benefits in line with inflation.

'Reverse the cuts' - George Smid

George Smid (Liberal Democrats) says: "I am refusing the concept that there is no money. The Conservatives pumped in, through quantitative easing, £400bn before the last year. Since August, since Brexit, to prop up the economy, there was another £70bn of quantitative easing. Where did the money go? To the corporations, to the banks.

"We would put it into schools. With benefits we would reverse the cuts, remove the bedroom tax, reverse cuts to universal credit and we would reverse the two-child policy limit."

What does the Labour manifesto say about benefits?

  • Keep the pension triple lock and benefits for pensioners, such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes.
  • Review the benefit cap, universal credit and reinstate housing benefit for under 21s.
  • Increase employment and support allowance by £30 per week.
  • Increase carers allowance by £11 a week.

'Security and certainty for pensioners' - Sally Keeble

Sally Keeble (Labour) says: "What we see now is prices rising faster than wages - that is going to put pressure on lots of working families.

Sally Keeble
BBC

"Our package for pensioners, which includes a triple lock and protecting the winter fuel allowance and importantly also guarantees around social care are really important. They will mean people can look forward and plan for their retirement with a level of security and certainty going into their older age."

Asked if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had focused on benefits because he cannot win the argument on Brexit, she adds: "No, I don't think so at all. I didn't think we was talking specifically about benefits. He was talking about jobs and rebuilding the economy and getting investment into schools and education.

"One of his aims is to make sure we have the highest proportion of high skilled jobs in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). That's a really important and really aspirational goal."

What does the Conservative manifesto say about benefits?

  • Replace pensions triple lock with guarantee that increases after 2020 will at least match inflation and average wages.
  • Means-test Winter Fuel Payments "focusing assistance on the least well-off pensioners".
  • Keep other pensioner benefits, including free bus passes and TV licences.
  • Give more power to the Pensions Regulator to protect private pensions

'Pensions will continue to rise under a Conservative government' - Michael Ellis

The second issue for the Northampton North candidates is that of benefits.

Many people think less should be spent on welfare, but if government try to remove any particular benefit, the people affected are not happy.

Michael Ellis
BBC

Addressing the issue first, Michael Ellis (Conservative), says: "We have already placed a cap to make sure that work always pays. That cap has been set out of London at £20,000, so that is a proper appropriation of public funds.

"There's £90bn spent on working age benefit a year by the taxpayer and when it comes to disability benefit, we have put the number being spent up. We do need a safety net, but we also need to make work pay."

Asked about proposed changes to the pensions triple lock, he adds: "We have to be responsible in the expenditure of public money. We are going to make sure pensions continue to rise as they have continued to do so in the past seven past years. Labour only put pensions up by 75p one year, we've made sure that they have gone up by £1,250 in the last seven years, and they will continue to go up."

What does UKIP's manifesto say about Brexit?

  • Repeal the European Elections Act (2002) to ensure no British national can stand for election to the European Parliament in 2019.
  • Take back control of Britain's fisheries.
  • End "the obscenity" of discarded fish, make best use of all fish caught and sell in the UK.
  • Re-instate the classic blue passport when the British passport contract comes up for renewal in 2019.
  • Stop businesses from paying tax in whichever EU or associated country they choose.
  • Cut unnecessary EU regulation from the 88% of the UK economy not linked to trade with EU countries.
  • Prioritise free trade agreements with non-EU countries.

'We won the argument' - Jonathan Bullock

Jonathan Bullock (UKIP), says: "When you look at their manifesto they [the Conservative Party] are starting to sell out on Brexit. For example, on the fisheries policy - you can have a 200 mile limit on fisheries, but the Conservative manifesto only talks about a 12 mile fishing limit. This is before the negotiations.

"I am the only Northampton North candidate who backed Brexit, and I've not heard any of the others say they were wrong about it. They obviously think we'd be better off staying in. We will be better off outside the EU. Companies are doing well because of the lower pound meaning exports are doing well, and we can prosper.

When asked whether his own party can "prosper" in post-Brexit Britain, Bullock adds: "Political parties ebb and flow. I'm sure as soon as anything goes wrong in these negotiations, we'll be back in business. People identify with us, we won the argument.

"I remember 10-15 years ago making the argument to leave the EU and people thought it was ridiculous; but it is now happening. People also agree with us on other big issues like grammar schools and tackling radical Islam. On all these issues, we are proving to be right."

What does the Green Party manifesto say about Brexit?

  • A referendum on the final Brexit deal with the option to reject the deal and remain in the EU.
  • Protect freedom of movement, press for remaining within the single market.
  • Guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK and seek reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens in the EU.
  • Guarantee the rights of young people to study, work, live and travel in the EU, including through schemes like Erasmus.

'Trust the electorate to have a say on the final Brexit deal' - Steve Miller

Steve Miller (Green Party), says: "It's in the interests of the UK to get the best deal out of the negotiations. Obviously we would be looking to preserve environmental protection regulations policy as we owe a lot of those to our membership of the European Union.

"We also campaigned for remain (in the 2016 referendum) because we want to remain in the single market. Like the Liberal Democrats have said, the Green Party would look for a ratification referendum. Why would we leave it to the 650 MPs in parliament to decide on what is or is not a good deal? We trusted the people to make the right decision once, let's trust them again."

What does the Liberal Democrats manifesto say about Brexit?

  • Second referendum on Brexit deal.
  • Press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
  • Urge same rights for UK citizens living in European Union countries.
  • Membership of the single market and customs union.
  • Protect freedom of movement and EU schemes which increase opportunities for young people.
  • Defend social rights such as maternity leave.
  • Maintain EU environmental standards and cooperation for law enforcement and justice.
  • Retain City of London's rights in EU financial markets.
  • Campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities.
  • Retain European Health Insurance Card, reduced roaming charges and pet passports.
  • Protect the rights of the people of Gibraltar.

'We need a ratification referendum' - George Smid

George Smid (Liberal Democrats) says: "How can Theresa May face the 27 European leaders if she cannot even face the other leaders in an election debate?

"She is not able to negotiate, she is just saying "Brexit means Brexit" - but what does Brexit mean? What is the best deal for Britain?

"We want a referendum on the deal. The last referendum wasn't the first referendum in the history of mankind. Last year's referendum was the second one about the EU, so we should have a third one, a ratification referendum."

What does the Conservative manifesto say about Brexit?

  • Exit the European single market and customs union but seek a "deep and special partnership" including comprehensive free trade and customs agreement.
  • Vote in both Houses of Parliament on "final agreement" for Brexit.
  • Assess whether to continue with specific European programmes and it "will be reasonable that we make a contribution" to the ones which continue.
  • Agree terms of future partnership with EU alongside withdrawal, both within the two years allowed under Article 50.
  • Convert EU law into UK law and later allow parliament to pass legislation to "amend, repeal or improve" any piece of this.
  • Remain signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights for the next parliament.
  • Repeal or replace the Human Rights Act "while the process of Brexit is under way" ruled out, although consideration will be given to the UK's "human rights legal framework" when Brexit concludes.
  • Reduce and control immigration from Europe after Brexit.
  • Seek to replicate all existing EU free trade agreements.
  • Support the ratification of trade agreements entered into during our EU membership.
  • Introduce a Trade Bill in the next parliament.
  • Create a network of Her Majesty's Trade Commissioners to head nine new regional overseas posts.
  • Reconvene the Board of Trade to increase exports from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England.

'Theresa May is the only leader who can deliver on Brexit' - Michael Ellis

Michael Ellis (Conservative), who was the MP for Northampton North prior to parliament being dissolved, says: "Theresa May has proven leadership skills, she is someone who will be able to stand up to the 27 member states of the European Union.

"She has beaten Jeremy Corbyn in Prime Minister's Questions every week for nine months. We have got opposition parties, Labour included, who voted against Brexit. Dozens of Labour MPs didn't vote to activate article 50.

"They will not support Brexit, Theresa May is the only leader who can get the best deal for Britain. She has called this general election because she needs a strong negotiating hand in Europe."

What does the Labour manifesto say about Brexit?

  • Accept the EU referendum result and "build a close new relationship with the EU", prioritising jobs and and workers' rights.
  • Guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and work to "secure reciprocal rights" for UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.
  • A "meaningful" role for Parliament throughout Brexit negotiations.
  • Scrap Conservatives' Brexit White Paper and replace with "fresh negotiating priorities" with strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the single market and customs union.
  • Reject no deal as a viable option and if needs be negotiate transitional arrangements "to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy".
  • Keep EU-derived laws on workers' rights, equality, consumer rights and environmental protections.
  • Maintain UK's leading research role by seeking to stay part of Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes.
  • Seek to maintain membership of European organisations which offer benefits to the UK such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency.
  • Will not allow Brexit to be used as an excuse to undercut UK farmers and flood Britain's food chain with cheap and inferior produce.

'We'll work for a Brexit that works for working people' - Sally Keeble

Today's debate is taking place at the Round Spinney Industrial Estate in Northampton, where a number of local businesses operate from.

Whoever becomes prime minister in a week's time will have to lead Britain's negotiations on leaving the European Union - and it's a big issue for many firms.

Group pic
BBC

Speaking first, Sally Keeble (Labour), who was the MP for this area from 1997-2010 and who and voted to remain in last year's referendum, said: "You put forward the case you believe in, but once a vote is taken, you respect the democratic decision of the people.

"The Labour Party and I would work for a Brexit that works for working people, gets the best deal for Britain and also look to protects our farming and other industries; but leave Europe we will.

"We believe if we reach the ultimate deadline without a deal, that we should argue for transitional arrangement and get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom."

Northampton North: 'A closely watched battle awaits'

Sam Read

BBC Radio Northampton politics reporter

Northampton North is the county's second closest race, taking in industrial parts of the town and the university.

The battle has a familiar feel to it - Conservative Michael Ellis is fighting to retain the seat he won in 2010.

Back then he took over from Labour's Sally Keeble, who is standing again. At least the candidates shouldn't get any surprises, they know each other well.

UKIP and the Greens have chosen candidates who are well-known within their local parties, with Jonathan Bullock and Steve Miller respectively.

George Smid is standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Last time out the majority was just over 3,000 and this will be one of the most closely watched battles in Northamptonshire.

Northampton North: Meet the candidates

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

Jonathan Bullock (UKIP)

UKIP candidate
BBC

Michael Ellis (Conservative)

Michael Ellis
BBC

Sally Keeble (Labour)

Sally Keeble
BBC

Steve Miller (Green)

Steve Miller
BBC

George Smid (Liberal Democrat)

George Smid, Lib Dem
BBC

Welcome to the Northampton North general election debate

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

We've travelled 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 Northampton North constituency.

We'll bring you the main points from the debate here, after a look at the panel.