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Summary

  1. David Cameron agreed to take part in one seven-way TV debate at the beginning of April
  2. Labour said it still backs the original plan for three debates
  3. Two Labour MPs said police and intelligence officers who give evidence on an alleged Westminster paedophile ring must be protected from prosecution
  4. An undercover police inquiry into Cyril Smith & others was scrapped after his arrest, the BBC learned
  5. Conservatives are considering axing inheritance tax on homes up to £1m, leaked papers suggested
  6. There are 51 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Nick Eardley and Dominic Howell

All times stated are UK

Get involved

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.

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

Tomorrow's Herald

Herald
Herald

Express front page

Daily Express
Express

Paper review

BBC News Channel

Paper review
BBC

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.

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

London Evening Standard

Newspaper

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,"

Tomorrow's Scotsman

Scotsman
Scotsman

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.

Tomorrow's Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Mail

Official Secrets Act

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

Newsnight studio
BBC

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.

Newsnight

@BBCNewsnight

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

Sun Politics

@SunPolitics

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%

BBC Newsnight

@BBCNewsnight

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

New coin designed by teenager

New pound coin
PA

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."

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.

BBC Free Speech

@BBCFreeSpeech

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

George Osborne

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

newsnight studio
Newsnight

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.

Tomorrow's Telegraph

Telegraph
Telegraph

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.

HM Treasury

@hmtreasury

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

New £1 coin
Treasury

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.

Guardian front page

Tomorrow's Guardian
Guardian

Tomorrow's Times

The Times
The Times

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.

Mishal Husain, Today presenter

@MishalHusainBBC

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

AND

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

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

Peter Robinson, DUP leader

@DUPleader

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

Rachel Reeves, shadow work and pensions secretary

@RachelReevesMP

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

BBC press office

@bbcpress

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.

And

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

Newsnight

@Newsnight

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

And

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

Ed Miliband on TV debates

Ed Miliband
Getty Images

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.

FT front page

FT front page
FT

McCluskey Vs Miliband

Len McCluskey
PA

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."

Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

@Nigel_Farage

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

Nigel Farage
BBC

Pat Kane, musician and commentator

@thoughtland

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

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.

Drug laws

Leanne Wood
BBC

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.

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.

Sexism

Audience
BBC

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".