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Summary

  1. The Conservatives promise to build 200,000 new starter homes by 2020
  2. Labour has previously said it would make sure 200,000 new homes are being built each year by 2020
  3. The Lib Dems say they will build 300,000 new homes.
  4. Britain's banks should face an additional £1bn tax levy to help pay off the deficit, the Lib Dems say.
  5. There are 66 days until the general election
  6. Rolling political news, including key moments from Today, Breakfast, Daily Politics and Newsnight

Live Reporting

By Tim Fenton and Angela Harrison

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Round-up of the day

From a start close to home, the day's political horizons gradually broadened to finish with international security and defence:

  • The Tories pledged to double the number of new starter homes to 200,000 by 2020 - at a discounted rate for first time buyers. Labour want to see 200,000 new homes built a year by 2020. The Lib Dems want to see 300,000 new homes built annually by 2020, including 10 new garden cities
  • Home Secretary Theresa May was challenged in the Commons on anti-terror measures. She denied changes in the law made it easier for a network of suspected terrorists to operate in West London - among them, the Islamic State killer Mohammed Emwazi
  • Labour proposed a system of 'yellow-card' temporary suspensions for rowdy behaviour in the Commons. The Speaker said the suggestion had 'merit'
  • Mr Bercow also warned the Palace of Westminster might have to abandoned if repair and modernisation work was not prioritised
  • Pets killed on roads will have to be collected, identified and their owners notified. The move follows a campaign by a woman who wasn't told her dog had died until four months after it had been found
  • MPs went on to debate defence. The chairman of the defence select committee, Rory Stewart, said that if Russia invaded Estonia, NATO would not know how to respond. A succession of MPs argued for defence spending to be at least maintained at the present 2% of GDP.
  • That's all from the Live Page team for tonight. We'll be back from 06:00 to keep you up-to-date on the latest political news and comment.

Tomorrow's Times

#tomorrowspaperstoday

Times
Times

Tomorrow's i

i
Independent

Tomorrow's Independent

Independent
Independent

Tomorrow's Daily Mail

Mail
Mail

Child exploitation

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

Newsnight's chief correspondent Laura Kuenssberg says tomorrow David Cameron is holding a child protection summit in Downing Street where he will talk about making it a criminal offence for professionals not to report child abuse.

Tomorrow also sees the publication of the Serious Case Review, or investigation, in to child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire.

No private deal

Graham Allen
MP's

MPs should be summoned to Westminster to meet for the first time on the Saturday after the general election to prevent a coalition deal being agreed in private between party leaders, a senior politician has said.

Labour MP Graham Allen called for Parliament to meet on May 9 to consider the make-up of the next government. "If the result of the May 7 general election is not clear-cut, the days immediately after it should not be characterised by a private fix by the party leaders, where newly elected Members of Parliament and their parties are bypassed," he said.

House building

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

Evan Davis asks the housing minister Brandon Lewis if he thinks house prices are "too high". He says it's different in different parts of the country, but agrees "In London, prices are too high...we need more homes to be built to deal with that".

Mr Lewis says the Conservative's Starter Homes policy will help more young people to own a home of their own. The Conservatives and Labour have been setting out their policies on house building today.

Defence budget

House of Commons

Parliament

Defence Minister Mark Francois, closing the defence debate for the government says: "The world simply does not stand still and events will not give us rest." He says the government inherited "chaos" from Labour in 2010 and "the budget is now back in balance".

Shadow defence minister Kevan Jones says a future Labour government would meet current defence spending commitments in 2015-16. He says Labour would hold "a proper defence review" examining "our role in the world".

Ukraine 'a wake-up call'

Susan Hulme

BBC parliamentary correspondent

The Defence Minister, Mark Francois, has said that recent events in Ukraine have been a "wake-up call". Speaking at the end of a Commons debate on the UK's defence, he said that the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the National Security Strategy needed to be updated in the light of that.

The comments come after the head of the US Army said that he was "very concerned" about the impact of spending cuts on the UK's armed forces.

Tomorrow's Guardian

#tomorrowspaperstoday

Guardian
Guardian

More poster reaction

Chris Leslie MP, Labour's Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, commenting on the new Tory election poster said: "The recovery has failed to reach kitchen tables across Britain. While a few at the top have been given a huge tax cut, working people are £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories. Labour's better plan will boost living standards, save our NHS, back the next generation and balance the books fairly. The Tories have an extreme plan to cut spending back to 1930s levels, before there was an NHS, which would put our public services and our economy at risk. Working people can't afford five more years of the Tories."

Tomorrow's Daily Express

Tomorrow's Daily Express front page headline is "Paracetamol in new health alert". The paper says a daily dose of paracetamol could "put you at risk of heart disease and kidney failure, a study suggests".

Tomorrow's Telegraph

Telegraph
Telegraph

Nick Sutton, Editor, BBC World at One

@suttonnick

FT
FT

tweets: Tuesday's FT front page: Regions cut pay gap with London as capital's workers feel squeeze

#tomorrowspaperstoday

Speaker sees 'merit' in card sanction on MPs

John Bercow
BBC

Commons Speaker John Bercow has given a cautious welcome to the suggestion MPs face a rugby-style "yellow-card" temporary ban for bad behaviour in the Chamber. Answering questions at a Hansard Society event at Westminster, Mr Bercow said: "I think there is merit in it, it's not for me to decide, it's for the House to decide."

Earlier, the Shadow Leader of the Commons, Angela Eagle, had suggested a system of temporary one-hour suspensions as part of a package of reforms to be brought in by a Labour government. "Sometimes," she said, "MPs take it too far and it turns the public off. A Labour government will consult on new powers for the Speaker to curb the worst forms of repeated barracking."

Laura Kuenssberg, BBC Newsnight

@bbclaurak

tweets: Bercow says Parly might have to be abandoned in 20 yrs! our film on state of disrepair, alongisde some lovely pix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i9xGG0RUoA …

SNP hit back at Labour

The SNP has hit back at comments made by the former prime minister Gordon Brown in which he accused the party of focusing on political wrangling rather than what it could do for Scotland.

The party's deputy leader, Stewart Hosie, said: "Given their toxic alliance with the Tories for the last two and a half years, people in Scotland would be forgiven for thinking that Labour's focus is not what they can do for Scotland - but what they can do for their Tory allies.

"And despite this transparent attempt to cover for the failures of Jim Murphy's leadership, Gordon Brown has the substance all wrong....The general election is Scotland's opportunity to hold real power at Westminster and to deliver on the priorities of the people who live here - ending austerity, protecting our public services and investing in jobs."

Brown tackled on fees

Gordon Brown MP
BBC

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been challenged on his role in introducing university tuition fees in England by a school student. Mr Brown was making a speech in Glasgow in which he called for a united effort to fight for social justice. During questions afterwards, he was asked: "You were the chancellor of the exchequer that introduced tuition fees, so how can you speak of empowering future generations when you introduced legislation which has encumbered future generations?".

Mr Brown responded: "When we introduced tuition fees, and I had my own views on this which I won't go into this evening, they were at £3000. In 2007 we also added protection for poorer students around the maintenance costs....What I can't agree with is that you introduce free tuition, which is what has happened in Scotland, and then you cut the grants for poorer students."

Time to move House?

Houses of Parliament
BBC

The Speaker John Bercow says the cost of repairs to the Houses of Parliament could be more than £3bn. In a lecture in Westminster, he also said while he did not want MPs to have to move elsewhere while the work was carried out, they might have to. He was "very uneasy about the idea of decanting" from the Palace of Westminster, he said, because "once you are out it can be very difficult to get back", but if MPs had to move out, they should consider "all options including, almost certainly, a regional option".

Basic services in the building, like electricity, water and sanitation, are being kept functioning "with increasing difficulty and growing risks", according to a report from 2012. There are many leaks from the roof too, as seen in the BBC documentary

Inside the Commons.

Poster reaction

@MSmithsonPB

Mike Smithson, PoliticalBetting.com

tweets: New Tory poster from Saatchi. My initial reaction is that it doesn't quite have what it takes

New Tory Campaign poster

Conservative Party poster
Conservative Party

Tories launch new poster campaign, by Saatchi.

Bradford candidate

Naz Shah
BBC

A bit more on the candidate chosen by Labour to take on Respect MP George Galloway in Bradford in the general election. She is Naz Shah, the chair of a mental health charity called Sharing Voices Bradford. She is also known for her campaigning after her mother, Zoora Shah, was jailed in 1993 for poisoning her partner Mohammed Azam, after years of suffering domestic violence.

Originally, Labour had chosen a London councillor, Amina Ali, to stand against Mr Galloway, but she stood aside days after being picked, saying the campaign for the Yorkshire seat would cause "massive disruption" to her children's lives.

Mandatory reporting on FGM

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers back plans to create a mandatory duty on health professional and teachers to notify police of female genital mutilation within one month of becoming aware of the crime.

LBC

@LBC

Nick Clegg
LBC

tweets: Nick Clegg is taking your calls and questions on mental health. Watch it all live here: http://l-bc.co/qPNCO2

Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

@ChrisMasonBBC

tweets: Three children in every classroom has a mental health condition, Dep PM Nick Clegg tells @lbc

'No repeat of queues chaos'

Remember

the queues that led to voters being turned away outside some polling stations at the 2010 election? It won't happen again, according to the head of the Electoral Commission. Jenny Watson said anyone stuck in a queue at 22:00 will still be able to cast their vote.
The full story is here.

British hypocrisy, by Alan Bennett

The World at One BBC Radio 4

Presented by Martha Kearney

Alan Bennett talks to Martha Kearney
BBC

Writer Alan Bennett says the one thing his country excels at is hypocrisy. He's the latest to be asked by Radio Four's

The World At One to name one area in which the UK is world class. He said he'd discarded other ideas such as the National Trust, medieval churches and Swaledale in Yorkshire in favour of attitudes towards language, literature and the law.

'Devolution to England'

House of Commons

Parliament

The Conservative MP for Wokingham, John Redwood, says: "If we are going to have devolution in England, we first need devolution to England."

He argues that England needs more powers over areas such as transport, as there are "more generous devolution settlements now being offered to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland".

Norman Smith, BBC News Assistant Political Editor

@BBCNormanS

tweets: Govt sources say Labour claims that scrapping control orders enabled Jihadi John to travel to #syria are "highly speculative"

Gordon Brown speech

Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown says politicians must stop asking what Scotland can do for them - and instead explain what they can do for Scotland. In a speech in Glasgow, he accused the SNP of focusing on "the minutiae of Westminster insider politics" with Labour ahead of the general election, rather than "the big issues that matter such as ending poverty, unemployment, inequality and injustice in Scotland".

"Even if the SNP seem happy to spend their time talking about hung parliaments, post-election deals and coalitions, we will spend our time talking about new Scottish jobs, new Scottish businesses and new Scottish technologies, and how we can benefit from leading a global economic revolution," he said.

This House is falling down

John Bercow
PA

The Palace of Westminster may have to be abandoned within 20 years unless an extensive programme of repairs and modernisation is agreed, John Bercow has warned. The Commons Speaker said a "not inconsequential sum of public money" was needed to keep the Houses of Parliament "fit for purpose".

Re-cap

A look back at two key political stories of the day:

  • Home Secretary Theresa
    May has been challenged in the Commons on anti-terror measures
  • She denied changes in the law made it easier for a network of suspected terrorists to operate in West London - among them, the Islamic State killer Mohammed Emwazi
  • David Cameron and Ed Miliband have been promoting their
    rival plans on housing
  • The Tories have pledged to double the number of new starter homes to 200,000 by 2020 - at a discounted rate for first time buyers
  • Labour want to see 200,000 new homes built a year by 2020
  • The Lib Dems want to see 300,000 new homes built annually by 2020, including 10 new garden cities

'Deathbed repentance'

House of Commons

Parliament

Austin Mitchell
BBC

Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, describes devolution to Greater Manchester as a "deathbed repentance by a government which had centralised continuously in a country that is over-centralised already".

He claims that a concentration of power in London and the south-east of England "needs to be reversed so the rest of us can have a chance".

Ashcroft poll

A bit more on the

latest poll from the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft:

  • Conservatives - 34%; Labour - 31%; UKIP - 14%; Lib Dems - 7%; Greens - 7%
  • 36% said a Tory government would deliver strong economic growth, compared with 21% for Labour
  • On the NHS, 37% expected to see improvements under Labour, compared with 13% under the Tories
  • Action to tackle tax avoidance more likely under David Miliband, those polled said
  • Little confidence that either party would be able to reduce immigration significantly, with 26% thinking that was likely under the Tories and 13% under Labour.

1,003 adults were interviewed by telephone between 27 February 27 and 1 March.

'Unrealistic'

Susan Hulme

BBC parliamentary correspondent

The former NATO Secretary-General, Lord Robertson, has said it's "absurd" to blame the security services for failing to stop people travelling to fight for Islamic State.

Speaking in the Lords, he said it was completely unrealistic to expect that everyone who was followed or identified by the security services should be locked up, because there was no system yet invented that was "capable of identifying and imprisoning all of those who might conceivably in the future be guilty of some terrorist act".

David Anderson, UK Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation

@terrorwatchdog

tweets: Control orders vs #TPIMs - the background to Parliament's recent decision to restore relocation is here: …https://terrorismlegislationreviewer.independent.gov.uk/relocation-relocation-relocation/ …

Labour Press Team

tweets: Congratulations to @NazShahBfd - selected as Labour's candidate to win back Bradford West.

Victoria Derbyshire

advert for Victoria Derbyshire studio debates
BBC

Join Victoria Derbyshire on her new daytime TV programme from 7 April on BBC 2, BBC News Channel and online. In the run up to the general election, she will be debating the key issues likely to affect the way you vote with a live studio audience. If you want to have your say and take part please email Victoria@bbc.co.uk

Defence spending poll

Some 41% of voters back calls for Britain to continue spending 2% of GDP on defence, a survey suggests. About one in five (21%) oppose such a move, according to a poll by Usurv for the Press Association.

More men than women agreed that approach was right - 51% compared with 32% - while support increased with people's salaries, the survey suggests.

Asked about the pledge to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid - 45% opposed this while 29% backed it. A total of 1,000 people took part in the online poll.