Theresa May: Deport foreign criminals before appeal

Theresa May says a future Tory government would "scrap" the Human Rights Act

Theresa May has promised the government will "deport foreign criminals first, then hear their appeals".

The home secretary told the Conservative conference the current immigration system was "like a never-ending game of snakes and ladders".

She said the government would reduce the number of appeal rights for foreign crime criminals from 17 to four.

Mrs May also said the next Conservative manifesto would include a promise to scrap the Human Rights Act.

During her speech at the conference in Manchester, she said the government had succeeded in deporting extremist preacher Abu Qatada, despite this being blocked several times by the European Court of Human Rights.

'Free-for-all'

She also criticised UK judges for their interpretation of the law, saying: "Parliament wants the law on the people's side... Conservatives in government will put the law on the people's side once and for all."

Mrs May said the European court had "blocked the deportation" of Abu Qatada to Jordan on "entirely unprecedented grounds", adding that the next Conservative manifesto "will promise to scrap the European Human Rights Act".

She added: "The Conservative position is clear. If leaving the European convention is what it takes to alter our human rights laws, that's what we will do."

Mrs May said there were about 70,000 appeals against deportations every year and that lowering the number of grounds from 17 to four would reduce this "by about half".

One of the grounds of appeal allowed under the European Human Rights Act, of the "right to a family life", had become a "free-for-all".

'Slavery'

The home secretary said much of the law was now "on the side of the criminals rather than the public" and needed to be reformed.

She also said: "Where there is no risk of serious and irreversible harm, we should deport foreign criminal first and hear their appeals later."

Mrs May also pledged to bring in specific laws against people trafficking, which she described as a "modern-day slavery".

Victims were not always foreign nationals transported by gangs, she said, adding: "The bill will send the clearest possible message: if you're involved in this disgusting trade in human beings you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted, and you will be thrown behind bars."

The home secretary told the conference she would announce policy changes by the end of the year to ensure police do not stop people in the street on the basis of their skin colour.

She said: "When stop and search is misused, it wastes police time. And when it's used unfairly, it does enormous damage to public trust in the police."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More UK Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    19:33: Fancy taking part in a debate about health?

    Do you want to talk to senior politicians live on TV and tell them what they need to do to win your vote? Victoria Derbyshire is holding a series of big debates during the general election. If you would like to take part in a debate, get in touch (see picture below).

    Victoria Derbyshire
     
  2.  
    @PHammondMP Philip Hammond - Foreign Secretary

    Tweets: Positive talks with President @Poroshenko re situation on ground, #Minsk agreement & reform. Reaffirmed strong UK support for #Ukraine.

     
  3.  
    18:49: Video footage of Farage on TV debates

    For those who missed what UKIP leader Nigel Farage said earlier about the TV election debates, here's a video clip. He urged the broadcasters to "call Mr Cameron's bluff".

     
  4.  
    @GraemeDemianyk Graeme Demianyk - London editor of Western Morning News

    Tweets: You can't fault Clegg's enthusiasm for a photocall. Here at Gweek Seal Sanctuary in Cornwall

    Nick Clegg
     
  5.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith - Assistant political editor

    Tweets: BBC Trust say decision to bar DUP from #tvdebates not a breach of European Convention on Human Rights

     
  6.  
    18:13: More from Dodds

    Here's a bit more from Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, on the recent news that the party's appeal to be included in the TV debates has been rejected by the BBC Trust.

    He said: "The broadcasters really have a big question to ask of themselves now, having made a complete mess of this, and in my view this means that from now on in we should have an independent commissioner or such like looking after these events, the broadcasters and politicians should be left out of it."

     
  7.  
    18:03: 'Wrong and unjust' BBC News Channel
    Nigel Dodds,

    Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, has told BBC News the BBC Trust's decision to exclude the party from the TV debates "defies belief". He said it was "wrong, irrational and unjust".

     
  8.  
    17:52: Analysis Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor
    Norman Smith

    "I think potentially this could be another nail in the coffin of the television debates. The DUP have made very clear they believe they have a cast iron legal case to seek a judicial review challenging the BBC's decision, and potentially bring these TV debates to a grinding halt. The BBC Trust take the view that they are perfectly entitled to exclude the DUP from these debates because Northern Ireland is a distinct political landscape, different to Wales, England and Scotland. The BBC too are concerned that if the DUP were allowed into these debates, then they would have had to allow Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and the debates would have just become unwieldy and totally unmanageable."

     
  9.  
    17:49: BBC Radio 4

    On PM, Roger Mosey, the former editorial director of the BBC, says the broadcasters should "stand firm" in the row over the election TV debates. He supports Nick Clegg's offer to debate against Ed Miliband in place of David Cameron. But ex-Conservative MP Tim Collins thinks that clash would attract few viewers and doubts it would "do either party much good".

     
  10.  
    17:35: Breaking News

    The BBC Trust has rejected the Democratic Unionist Party's appeal to take part in the TV election debates. The move is now likely to trigger a judicial review by the DUP over their exclusion from the debates. A DUP spokesman described the decision by the BBC Trust as "a farce".

     
  11.  
    17:27: YouGov reaction to TV debates
    Joe Twyman

    YouGov spokesman Joe Twyman said: "A lot of people want debates, over three quarters of the population say they would like to see them in this election. But if they didn't take place would it actually make a difference? I imagine probably not, particularly if the decision was made now in the next couple of weeks it would probably be forgotten by the time the campaign came round, because the party machines would just get on with it."

    He conceded that the TV debates would only influence public opinion severely if one of the parties made it into a campaign theme, and the issue gained more momentum. But even then he warned: "The blame game will fly in every possible direction and it's unlikely to stick on one particularly person even though it's very clear David Cameron does not want these debates in a million years."

     
  12.  
    17:14: Tea towel politics Brian Wheeler Political reporter
    Labour tea towels Labour aims to clean-up with its vintage tea towel offer

    Is Ben Elton sending you emails? You must be on a Labour Party database. All the parties are using tricks learned from direct marketing to sell merchandise - including novelty tea towels and fridge magnets - and raise funds. I cast an eye over the best and worst efforts in this piece.

     
  13.  
    17:03: Ban on MPs' dinner expenses

    MPs will be banned from claiming expenses for dinners, TV licences and pre-23:00 taxis after the general election - even if their 10% pay hike does not go ahead. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) proposed a raft of curbs to perks in 2013 as part of a wider package that included salaries rising from £67,000 to £74,000. But the watchdog has now confirmed that politicians' expenses will be cut from 8 May, even though the pay rise is still subject to review and David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have signalled they may block it.

     
  14.  
    16:49: 'Farage is a feminist issue' House of Lords Parliament
    Baroness Crawley

    Across in the House of Lords a debate is ongoing about women's economic empowerment. Baroness Crawley - the former chairwoman of the Women's National Commission, and now Labour peer - has focused on how it might be affected if the UK were to leave the EU, and she warns that "Farage is a feminist issue". She argues that leaving the EU would hurt women's economic empowerment. "The EU is not only the UK's largest economic market, it's also the union that helped establish standards for working men and women for their rights at work," she tells peers. "I would not want to see women in the UK miss out on future rights for work by leaving the European Union."

     
  15.  
    16:36: More from SNP on TV debates
    Stuart Hosie

    Deputy leader of the SNP Stewart Hosie said: "What David Cameron is doing is giving a very good impression of actually running scared from having his record held up to scrutiny." He adds: "What we cannot have is one politician - however important - dictating the terms of the debates for everyone else."

     
  16.  
    16:24: TV debate reaction
    Ian Birrell

    Ian Birrell, a former speech writer for David Cameron, said: "I'm not sure how much the public - while I think they like debates and enjoyed them last time - I'm not sure how big a deal it is compared to schools and hospitals and the state of the economy."

    He also said he believed the previous TV debates in the 2010 "distorted" the last election campaign, and he added it would be a "big call" for the BBC to challenge the prime minister by empty chairing him.

     
  17.  
    16:10: More should be done to recruit female spies - MPs say

    UK intelligence needs to do more to recruit middle-aged women and mothers to be spies, such as by using the website Mumsnet, MPs say. In a report, the Intelligence and Security Committee said such women were an "untapped recruitment pool" for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. It said more than half of the civil service were women, but the figure was 37% in the intelligence agencies. Hazel Blears, the Labour MP who led the report, called for a culture change. Read the full story here.

     
  18.  
    16:00: Changing of the guard

    It's been a busy day so far with reaction to David Cameron's decision to only take part in one TV debate before the election. At this point, Nick Eardley is signing out for the afternoon, but Dominic Howell will be here until midnight with the latest political news and analysis.

     
  19.  
    15:44: David Cameron 'feart'
    Nicola Sturgeon

    "David Cameron is feart" of the TV debates, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told the BBC's Glenn Campbell. She says Mr Cameron is "running scared of the public" and that broadcasters should call his bluff and empty chair the prime minister if he doesn't turn up. Ms Sturgeon says she will debate any time, anywhere.

     
  20.  
    15:36: Foreign aid
    Steven Stanbury

    On Daily Politics earlier, UKIP's general secretary Steven Stanbury discussed how the party would spend money currently earmarked for foreign aid. You can watch his package, in which he argues there is a seismic disconnect between political priorities and public opinion, here. His party wants to cut foreign aid by 75% and spend the money in local services.

     
  21.  
    15:24: 'Democracy will suffer' BBC News Channel
    Katie Ghose

    Katie Ghose, chief executive of the electoral reform society, is the latest to speak about the TV debates. She says the "time for squabbling and tactical manoeuvres" is over, adding that it is voters who will feel let down and democracy that will suffer if the debates do not go ahead. "It's an important part of the mix for millions of people... to have that special opportunity to hear directly from all the party leaders who may have influence or leadership in the next government," she tells BBC News.

     
  22.  
    15:21: 'Lofty disdain' from Tories - Clegg
    Nick Clegg

    Nick Clegg has accused the Tories of behaving with "lofty disdain" over the TV debates. He said his coalition partners were acting as though "they were ordering a drink in a drawing room of Downton Abbey, declaring that they deign to a participate in one debate". He added that it was "no way to treat the British people". And he reiterated his challenge to broadcasters to give him David Cameron's place so Ed Miliband can scrutinise the government's record.

     
  23.  
    15:04: Clegg in Cornwall
    Steve Gilbert

    The Western Morning News is covering Nick Clegg's visit to Cornwall, where the Lib Dem leader has been promoting his plans to offer a Cornish Assembly which would get new powers over local services. Stephen Gilbert, Lib Dem MP for St Austell and Newquay, tells the paper: "A central plank of my political belief is that democracy should be opened up to our communities and powers devolved from Whitehall to Cornwall."

     
  24.  
    14:56: 'No Englishman can understand a Welshman' House of Commons Parliament

    Opening a Welsh affairs debate in the Chamber, Glyn Davies, the Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, quotes Megan Lloyd George, the daughter of former Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who said that "no Englishman can understand a Welshman".

    Megan Lloyd George became the first woman MP in Wales when she won the Anglesey seat for the Liberal Party in 1929. She later became a Labour MP.

    Megan Lloyd George
     
  25.  
    14:51: Broadcasters 'could empty chair PM'
    Steve Richard

    Steve Richards (mentioned in previous entry see 14:44 GMT) also said it was possible broadcasters will "empty chair" David Cameron - hosting the debates even if he doesn't turn up. "Some of them are saying that that will happen, but they will be farcical frankly", he says. "If you haven't got one of the two potential prime ministers in any of the debates... they become pretty dire to watch".

     
  26.  
    14:45: Portraits of female MPs 'should be hung in palace'

    Portraits of famous female parliamentarians should be hung in prominent places around the historic Palace of Westminster after the election, a former women's minister has told the House of Commons. Maria Miller urged a redressing of the balance in the palace, and Speaker John Bercow said he would be an enthusiastic supporter of such a change. Labour MP Emily Thornberry made the case for suffragette Emily Wilding Davison to be added to any list of MPs displayed.

     
  27.  
    14:44: TV debates
    Steve Richard

    Steve Richards from the Independent says he doubts any debates will take place. He says the debate proposed would be "farcical" - as would any smaller debate without the prime minister. He says he doesn't blame Mr Cameron for his decision, however. "He is going to take hit today, but I think he had more to lose from a one-to-one with Ed Miliband than Ed Miliband would ever have to lose."

     
  28.  
    politics@bbc.co.uk @bbcpolitics 14:39: Get involved Nick Eardley BBC News

    The TV debates have generated significant interest among BBC News readers today. There are more than 1,700 comments on our story about David Cameron's TV debates stance. The highest rated is one reader questioning whether The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will come up in the debates (if they happen). You can read more about what TTIP is here. The second asks when we will we stop debating debates and start talking about policy instead. And the third highest rated asks: "Who cares how slick and smarmy they appear, voting should be based on the manifesto not appearances, sharp suits and how photogenic they appear."

    A number of contributors suggest David Cameron should be "empty chaired" if he doesn't want to take part. Other says the debates wouldn't tell us much, so aren't much of a loss. You can add your comments or email us politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. We'll continue to feature your views over the course of the afternoon.

     
  29.  
    14:28: 'UKIP won't win enough seats' The Daily Telegraph

    Earlier, Nigel Farage told Loose Women on ITV that he expects the number of MPs his party has after the election to be in "double figures". On the Telegraph website, James Kirkup argues that the number the party will end up with won't be enough. More here.

     
  30.  
    @daily_politics BBC Daily Politics

    tweets: 'Chaos and confusion' from broadcasters over #ge2015 TV debates, @grantshapps tells @afneil in #bbcdp clip

     
  31.  
    14:16: Cameron demands 'can't be met' New Statesman

    Over on The New Statesman, Stephen Bush is the latest to have his say on the TV debates. The proposal made by David Cameron, he says, appears reasonable at first glance. However, he argues "they're carefully designed to ensure that the Prime Minister's requests can't be met, and to prevent the debates from happening." More here.

     
  32.  
    @jameschappers James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    Tweets: #tvdebates debacle illustrates need for UK equivalent of US Commission on Presidential Debates if they happen in future campaigns

     
  33.  
    13:59: 'Impossible to exclude SNP'

    More on the SNP's strong showing in the opinion polls. Polling expert John Curtice says that given Labour and Conservatives are "virtually neck and neck" at the moment, it looks like it is going to be "impossible after 7 May to form a government without at least the acquiescence of the SNP". What does this mean? Not only has the SNP ruled out making David Cameron prime minister, but their policy demands on matters like Trident and austerity would also be tricky for Labour, he says. This raises questions about how easy it will be for anyone to form a stable government after the election, he adds.

     
  34.  
    13:49: SNP 'tide rising'
    John Curtice

    Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, has been discussing polls that suggested the SNP could win the safest Labour seat in Scotland at the general election. The results largely confirm what many pundits had been saying about the Scottish vote, he says, adding: "The truth is the SNP tide is rising by about 25 points in just about every constituency in Scotland."

     
  35.  
    13:37: Shapps V Powell continued The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Asked how voters will be able to judge Mr Cameron if the debate takes place before the Conservative manifesto is published, Grant Shapps says "people will have a pretty good idea by the end of this month what the different parties want to do". Lucy Powell says Ed Miliband would turn up to the "head-to-head" debate alone, but says he does not want to.

     
  36.  
    13:32: Shapps V Powell The World at One BBC Radio 4

    Back on the TV debates, Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps blames the broadcasters, saying they have had five years to sort out arrangements. But Labour's Lucy Powell David Cameron is being "hypocritical", having advocated debates in the past.

     
  37.  
    13:32: Prof on 2010 TV debates The World at One BBC Radio 4

    On the World at One, professor of political communications Stephen Coleman, of Leeds University, says the last TV debates, in 2010, were "remarkably popular". Two thirds of people surveyed afterwards said they had learned something new, while 87% had discussed them with other people, he says. Prof Coleman says people will not be impressed by David Cameron's "final offer", saying they see it as "kind of part of the constitution now".

     
  38.  
    13:25: Farage: UKIP will win double figures

    How many seats will UKIP win at the election, he is asked at the end of his interview on ITV's Loose Women. Nigel Farage says it will be in double figures

     
  39.  
    13:24: Farage: Selfish politicians

    Asked is it all worth it - getting up at 5am and not getting home before midnight - Nigel Farage says you've got to be fairly selfish to get into politics.

     
  40.  
    13:22: 'Fit as a flea'

    "It is really vile" Mr Farage says of the way some politicians are treated by the media. He says he decided to take some time out at the start of the year, but repeats that he is "fit as a flea". He only spends a few hours in the pub each day, he jokes. But his drinking and smoking are "what I actually do", he adds.

     
  41.  
    13:22: TV debates: The numbers

    Away from the political fallout from David Cameron's TV debates ultimatum, the BBC's head of statistics Anthony Reuben has been looking at other multi-leader contests around the world - and how much time might be left for each person to speak.

    Natalie Bennett, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood
     
  42.  
    13:21: Farage on deals

    UKIP is not going to win the election, but will win a "number of MPs". He suggests the party might be in the same position the Lib Dems were in 2010 and says he'll get a much better deal for his party. Asked if he wants to be deputy prime minister, Mr Farage says on Loose Women it's not what he wants to do.

     
  43.  
    13:20: 'Radically change' politics

    Nigel Farage says his life has been "pretty up and down" since he went to school. He says he wants to "radically change" politics - the gap between the wealthy and the rest is getting bigger every year and he wants to address that.

     
  44.  
    13:19: Pic: Farage on Loose Women
    Nigel Farage

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage has just been asked, tongue-in-cheek, on ITV's Loose Women about his "self esteem issues". That got the biggest laugh from the studio audience so far.

     
  45.  
    13:16: Farage on immigration

    Nigel Farage says he wants to ask David Cameron about immigration and how the Conservative leader thinks it can be controlled without leaving the EU at the TV debates. He tells the ITV programme he wants an end to "unskilled" workers coming to the UK.

     
  46.  
    13:14: Farage on debates

    On Loose Women, Nigel Farage says he believes David Cameron is trying to sabotage the TV debate process.

     
  47.  
    13:04: Farage on Loose Women

    Nigel Farage is on Loose Women on ITV soon. At the moment, they're showing him outside having a cigarette and a coffee. The UKIP leader has already tweeted to say he is more nervous than normal.

     
  48.  
    12:59: Grant Shapps on debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The interview with Tory chairman Grant Shapps on the TV debates is up on our website now. You can watch it here.

     
  49.  
    12:53: Cameron's 'shrewd politics' The Daily Telegraph

    Over on The Daily Telegraph, Rupert Myers has also been analysing the TV debates fall-out. He says David Cameron's decision to only agree to one debate is "shrewd politics". He writes: "Right now, perhaps the greatest electoral asset the Conservatives have is the gulf of public respect and confidence which exists between Cameron and Miliband. A series of TV debates would imperil that advantage."

     
  50.  
    12:49: Broadcasters have 'messed up' The Spectator

    David Cameron's communications director Craig Oliver criticised the broadcasters "deeply unsatisfactory process" for organising the pre-election TV debates in his letter last night. Today, Isabel Hardman has written a piece for The Spectator saying he has a point. She writes: "Though the prime minister is ducking out of them for the selfish reasons outlined here, the blame must ultimately lie with the broadcasters for making it possible for him to do so. They have managed to mess up at every stage of the process."

     
  51.  
    @Nigel_Farage Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

    tweets: I'm about to go on @loosewomen. Slightly more nervous about this panel than I usually am!

     
  52.  
    @BBCWorldatOne World at One

    tweets: Is the PM "running scared" or "unblocking the logjam"? We'll talk TV debates with @grantshapps & @LucyMPowell #wato

     
  53.  
    12:37: Campaigning and babies
    David Cameron

    David Cameron was speaking just now about TV debates during a visit to promote housebuilding policies. It was also a first for Politics Live - the first chance to use a fresh pic of a politician cooing over a baby. We're pretty sure there'll be plenty more to come over the weeks ahead.

     
  54.  
    12:35: Paul Flynn on 'worst ever' PMQs Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Daily politics

    Labour MP Paul Flynn said yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions was "the worst ever" and suggested scrapping the weekly session. He tells Daily Politics there is nothing new about prime ministers not answering questions, but says there is often no connection between the question and the answer now. It drags politics into "further disrepute", Mr Flynn says. He doesn't believed the session can now be reformed and wants a whole new system. Andrew Percy says it's a "pretty unedifying" spectacle but that it serves a purpose, particularly for constituency issues.

     
  55.  
    12:32: Lord Adonis on Scotland

    The Daily Politics is now discussing Labour in Scotland and recent polls suggesting the party could lose most of its seats. Lord Adonis says there is a long way to go in the campaign, telling the programme it is clear that opinion in Scotland is "volatile". Jim Murphy is doing a great job of re-energising the party, he adds. He won't be drawn on whether Labour should rule out of a deal with the SNP before the election.

     
  56.  
    12:31: Polly Toynbee on debates The Guardian

    If Miliband is so weak, why is Cameron so afraid of debating with him? That's the question Polly Toynbee is asking over on the Guardian site today. You can read her thoughts here.

     
  57.  
    @loosewomen Loose Women

    tweets: On today's show: @UKIP leader @Nigel_Farage takes on our women, plus comedian @RealMattLucas will be joining us too! #Elections2015

     
  58.  
    12:20: 'Host debates anyway' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Finally on TV debates on Daily Politics, Labour peer Lord Adonis says the broadcasters should go ahead regardless of David Cameron's views. He suggests the prime minister will be forced to take part if that happens.

     
  59.  
    12:19: 'Workable plan' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    The prime minister's debate plan is "completely workable", says Grant Shapps. Labour peer Lord Adonis says most members of the public think the 2010 debates changed things in terms of TV debates becoming a fixture of UK elections. "To turn the clock back" was a "disservice" to the public, he adds.

     
  60.  
    12:19: Shapps on debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    We've run out of time, Grant Shapps says, to hold the debates as planned by the broadcasters. Let's get the parties in and have a debate just before the election campaign proper, he adds. And he denies the claim his party wanted to avoid the debates at all costs.

     
  61.  
    12:17: Cameron on debates
    David Cameron

    If the debates are held during the campaign people won't talk about anything else - such as the issues that matter, Mr Cameron says. He adds that he has said for the past three years that the debates should take place before the campaign proper begins.

     
  62.  
    12:14: Breaking News

    David Cameron says he wants there to be a TV debate. He says that rather than trying to avoid a debate, he is trying to "unblock the logjam" that the "broadcasters helped to create", so "let's get on, let's have the debate that matters the most". By putting this proposal forward, he says, "we'll actually see one take place".

     
  63.  
    12:11: Shapps on debates Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Grant Shapps

    Grant Shapps says the approach to debates has been messy. The debates at the last election sucked the life out of the campaign, he adds. There is still no clear sense of what broadcasters want, the Tory chairman adds.

     
  64.  
    12:09: 'Chaos and confusion' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, says there has been "chaos and confusion" over TV debates. He says "lots of people" haven't accepted the proposals.

     
  65.  
    12:05: Ed Miliband on Scotland

    During his earlier interview Mr Miliband was also asked about Scotland and polling which shows his party could lose a number of previously safe seats. The Labour leader said "the fight is on" in Scotland. He added: "I hope people who want to see the back of the Conservatives in Scotland will vote Labour."

     
  66.  
    12:04: Scottish FMQs

    In Scotland, First Minister's questions is under way. Follow it here.

     
  67.  
    11:53: Miliband: Cameron 'running away'
    Ed Miliband

    A bit more from Ed Miliband. He says it is "clear David Cameron is ducking the [head-to-head] debate". He adds: "He should stop ducking and weaving and name the date".

    Mr Miliband says he will take part in the seven leader debate, but continues: "We also need the debate between me and David Cameron". He says he is open to debate the prime minister at any time, in any place. And he adds that the public will no tolerate Mr Cameron "running away".

    On the possibility of a one-on-one debate with Nick Clegg, as suggested by Lord Ashdown, Mr Miliband says it is up to broadcasters.

     
  68.  
    11:47: Breaking News

    Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of "cowering from the public" over the TV debates. The Labour leader says the British public "deserves" the debate. Mr Miliband says he is ready to debate "any time, any place, anywhere - he should stop ducking and weaving".

     
  69.  
    @BBCNormanS Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

    tweets: Ed Miliband accuses PM of "cowering from the public" over #tvdebates

     
  70.  
    Get involved 11:39: Politics Live readers on the TV debates

    Some more comments from Politics Live readers on the TV debates

    No meaningful mass media debate between the main party leaders? Just another example of politicians' disrespect for the population at large. They all think that the ONLY moment of accountability is at the ballot box and violently object to any other forum (unless it`s in their own particular interest).

    John Hyland

    Am I the only one who would be thankful if no debates took place at all? Televised Punch and Judy Politics can be seen every day on the news and in particular at Wednesday's Prime Ministers Questions. This is not informative nor even remotely entertaining.

    David Parker

    The problem is, the Conservative party have backed themselves into a corner. They have been banging on for the last few years how weak a candidate Ed Miliband has been and it's come back to haunt them.

    Expectations of Ed are so low, even an even debate would be a landslide victory for the Labour Party. From the Conservative point of view, it doesn't really make sense to give Labour the platform, where the best they could do is break even.

    Nicholas Williams

    It seems unlikely that any of the party leaders will win a majority in May. They are going to have to work together for the common good of an electorate tired of their silly and destructive adversarial politics.

    Let's make a reality TV show instead. It might be interesting if all the party leaders were shut in a plush stately home with plenty of TV cameras and given a task or do - agree a plan to build an environmentally sustainable economy in the UK would be a good one. There are many more tasks like that to be tackled.

    It would be tempting to make them stay in there until they agreed. In the real world we all need politicians to work together for the common good - something else they would have to agree on.

    It might even make good television. It is what Parliament needs to become after 7 May.

    Simon Court

     
  71.  
    @daily_politics BBC Daily Politics

    tweets: 'Britain now gives away an eye-watering £12bn a year' in foreign aid, says @StanburySteven in his film for Thu #bbcdp

     
  72.  
    11:37: TV debates: Lessons from history Brian Wheeler Political reporter
    John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960

    Nothing gets TV executives salivating - and political leaders quaking - like a live televised debate. Beneath the glare of the studio lights, a politician is at his most exposed. One stumble, a flash of anger, an inappropriate joke, a memory lapse or just a failure to bring your "A Game", and the whole shooting match can be over. The fate of nations sometimes hang in the balance. But the lessons are still there to be learned....

     
  73.  
    11:33: Where do we stand on the TV debates?

    Here's what the main players are saying:

    • David Cameron will only take part in one debate, his communications chief Craig Oliver has said. That debate must feature at least seven leaders and must be held this month. Mr Craig also criticised the "deeply unsatisfactory process" of organising the debates
    • Labour aren't happy. Alastair Campbell has accused Mr Cameron of making "pathetic excuses" to avoid the debates, which he says the prime minister is scared of losing
    • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has offered to take Mr Cameron's place in the one-on-one debates. He says he would be happy to defend the government's record
    • But Lucy Powell, vice chair of Labour's election campaign, says the head-to-head should be between those who could be prime minister after 7 May
    • SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon says the prime minister is "clearly running scared of having to answer for his government's record of failure and incompetence"
    • A UKIP spokesman says Mr Cameron is "acting chicken"
    • Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says Mr Cameron's behaviour is "unacceptable and arrogant"
    • The Democratic Unionist Party says broadcaster have made a "complete and utter mess" of plans to hold the debates
    • Publically, the broadcasters have said very little. But privately, they seem determined not to buckle, says our assistant political editor Norman Smith
     
  74.  
    11:27: No 10's briefing for political reporters Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    On TV debates the PM's spokesman referred all questions back to Director of Communications Craig Oliver's letter of last night. Asked if David Cameron was running scared the spokesman said "that is not a premise I would accept".

     
  75.  
    11:23: Shapps on Daily Politics Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn are joined by former Labour minister Andrew Adonis as guest of the day. Conservative chairman Grant Shapps will be talking TV debates. MPs Paul Flynn and Andrew Percy will debate whether PMQs should be abolished, while a film from Giles Dilnot looks at civilian use of drones after a parliamentary report on the issue. And they will be looking at party names after the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party was told by the Electoral Commission that its moniker was "describing women as a sexual object in a demeaning way and would cause offence if it were to appear on ballot paper". You can watch the programme live from 1200-1300, or later, on the Live Coverage tab on this page (if you're reading this on the BBC app, to watch the it live you have to click here and open the page in a browser)

     
  76.  
    11:05: Hague on debates
    William Hague

    William Hague has told MPs that the Prime Minister's offer for a television debate should be taken up. Speaking in the Commons this morning he said: "When I recall asking Tony Blair when I was leader of the opposition in 2001 for a television debate there was not even an offer of a debate from Tony, not even the pretence of a debate, there was a very clear 'no debate whatsoever'. And this prime minister is offering a debate and that is an offer that should be taken up that was never offered by Tony Blair in similar circumstances."

     
  77.  
    @patrickwintour Patrick Wintour, Guardian political editor

    tweets: Ms Moneypenny lives. Only 19% of senior civil servants in intelligence agencies are women - report from Intelligence and Security Committee.

     
  78.  
    @OfficeGSBrown Gordon and Sarah Brown office

    tweets: Gordon Brown: #TBT to me at primary school. On #IWD2015 Stand #UpForSchool to empower the next generation of women

    Gordon Brown
     
  79.  
    10:50: Expert view: Are debates dead? Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    So are the debates dead? Well, maybe not. But only if the broadcasters hold their nerve. In other words if they decide to press ahead with the three debates and empty chair the prime minister. It would be a huge decision - and many at Westminster remain sceptical that the BBC would be willing to do this.

    However, privately, the broadcasters' insist they will not buckle and will not allow one party to "dictate" the conditions. They insist the single 90 minute seven, or even eight party, debate proposed by the prime minister will "not cover the ground". And crucially, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats say they will still turn up for whatever debates the broadcasters' decide to hold. Ed Miliband will even take part in the head-to-head without David Cameron - and subject himself to a grilling from Jeremy Paxman. Senior Lib Dems say Nick Clegg would be ready to stand in for the prime minister in the final head-to-head, making it a Miliband v Clegg clash.

    The danger for the prime minister is that even if the debates lose their impact without him - he risks a backlash from voters for failing to take part. Downing Street's hope - that the broadcasters will buckle and either agree to his proposal or just scrap the whole idea of TV debates for this election.

     
  80.  
    10:46: Harvey Proctor

    Earlier, we reported that the home of former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor had been searched by police investigating historical allegations of child abuse. He phoned the Today programme to give his reaction and deny any wrongdoing. You can listen to his interview with James Naughtie here.

     
  81.  
    10:41: Electoral reform society on debates

    Reaction to David Cameron's TV debate decision is coming in thick and fast. Electoral Reform Society Chief Executive Katie Ghose says: "This unseemly squabble over TV debates has to end now. In the run-up to an election that's too close to call, the British public expect to hear from all the party leaders. Everyone involved needs to recognise that fact and come to an agreement before it's too late.

    "Compared to other advanced democracies around the world, Britain has been extremely late to the party when it comes to TV debates. It would be a national embarrassment if we end up being the first to leave that party as well. No TV debates in 2015 would be a backward step in terms of our democratic development."

     
  82.  
    10:40: DUP on TV debates

    The Democratic Unionist Party says broadcasters have made a "complete and utter mess" of plans to hold pre-election TV debates. The party has begun legal action against the BBC for excluding it from its earlier proposal of two UK TV debates. Today, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster that the BBC and other broadcasters had "messed up big style" during the entire debates process.

     
  83.  
    10:40: Rural fuel rebates

    Away from Westminster, the European Union has approved the rollout of rural fuel rebates to 17 areas in Scotland and England. The move will mean some retailers can claim back up to 5p per litre duty relief on unleaded petrol and diesel, and pass on the savings to customers. The 17 areas include parts of the Highlands, Argyll and Bute, Northumberland, Cumbria, Devon and North Yorkshire.

     
  84.  
    10:35: Hustings origins

    Where does the word "hustings" come from? Our colleague Trevor Timpson, the BBC's Vocabularist, has been taking a look.

     
  85.  
    10:30: Plaid Cymru on debates
    Leanne Wood

    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says she is "ready to debate the prime minister and the other party leaders at any time".

    She adds: "People want these debates to go ahead so that they have the opportunity to hear from the parties that they will be voting for in May. Plaid Cymru is ready for these debates and we look forward to setting out our plans for an alternative to Westminster's austerity agenda. The prime minister's efforts to manipulate the broadcasters are unacceptable and arrogant and it would seem that he is running scared of his record being open to scrutiny."

     
  86.  
    10:25: TV debates: A broadcaster's view BBC News Channel

    Former Sky News chief Chris Birkett, who this time is heading up a team hoping to stage a prime ministerial debate on YouTube, says the broadcasters have been firm so far and that he won't be surprised if the broadcasters stick firm with the current plans. But he suggests there may need to be a look at how the debates are organised in the future.

     
  87.  
    10:13: Scottish polling reaction
    Andrew Morrison and James Cook

    After last night's Ashcroft polling on Scotland, our Scotland correspondent James Cook is out in Glasgow speaking to some of those involved in the election. First up is Glasgow East Tory candidate Andrew Morrison. He says his party is "fighting hard" to increase its share of the vote - especially because Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is from the constituency. He says the response he gets on the doorsteps has been mixed, with many not having decided how to vote yet. Mr Morrison agrees with our correspondent that Scottish politics is now being seen through the prism of nationalism v unionism.

     
  88.  
    10:12: 'Cameron running scared' BBC News Channel

    The British public wants to see the TV debates, according to Labour's Lucy Powell. She says Ed Miliband debating Nick Clegg head-to-head, as suggested earlier by Lord Ashdown and the Liberal Democrat leader, is not the table at the moment. The debate should be between those who could be prime minister after the election and says David Cameron is "running scared".

     
  89.  
    10:11: Your say

    Some more of your views on the TV debates

    David Cameron gives Ed Miliband a thumping (metaphorically) every Wednesday at PMQs - I don't think for a minute that he's running scared or has anything to prove.

    D.Williams

    Politicians are there to serve us, not vice versa and television is a great medium to reach millions across the country, allowing us to hear how they propose to do that and get a measure of their leadership qualities.

    Garan Jenkin

    If Cameron can't be bothered to turn up for debates (plural) then I can't be bothered to turn out and vote.

    Colin Smale

    A pointless exercise overhyped by journalists with nothing better to do. The politicians will tell us what they think we want to hear. Far better to judge them on what they have done over the lat few years. Parliamentary question time is a disgrace by all parties

    Rob Whitrow

     
  90.  
    10:09: Alastair Campbell on debates BBC News Channel
    Campbell

    David Cameron is investing "pathetic excuses" over the TV debates, Alastair Campbell says. He is worried out losing them, and that is why he is not taking part, Tony Blair's former director of communications says. And it is an insult to the British people not to give them a chance to see a one-on-one debate, he adds.

    He admits he was "sceptical" of Tony Blair taking part in the debates previously, but the precedent has now been set, he says.

     
  91.  
    @LordAshcroft Lord Ashcroft, pollster

    tweets: Factors in voters' decisions between Con and Lab and how they've moved. Cons need points top right, Lab top left:

    Ashcroft tweets
     
  92.  
    09:51: Transport questions House of Commons Parliament

    Over in the Commons, Transport questions are just getting under way. Topics today include the Airports Commission, rural railway stations and compensation payments to passengers for delayed rail travel. You can follow today's proceedings on our dedicated Westminster live page.

     
  93.  
    09:50: Clegg on UKIP Call Clegg
    Nigel Farage

    Nick Clegg bets a UKIP candidate (not Nigel Farage) who calls his programme "several pints" that the Lib Dems will have "many, many, many, many, many more" MPs than his party after 7 May. He says UKIP will be a "pipsqueak" party in comparison.

     
  94.  
    09:48: Clegg on spending Call Clegg

    On defence, Nick Clegg says the spending review will decide how much of GDP goes towards defence in the future. The deputy prime minister says money was misspent to the tune of billions in the past and must be properly spent in the future. It comes amid a debate on whether the UK will be able to honour a commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence.

     
  95.  
    09:47: Tony Blair donation

    A bit more on Tony Blair's decision to donate £106,000 in total to Labour candidates fighting the election. In a letter to candidates in key seats, the former PM says: "I know how hard it can be to raise money to fund a local campaign, but for you, in one of our 106 battleground seats, it is even more vital. This is where the election will be won for Labour and that is why I am making a donation to all 106 campaigns."

     
  96.  
    09:38: TV debates latest
    Leaders

    Here's our latest story on the TV debates, leading off with David Cameron's political opponents accusing him of running scared.

     
  97.  
    09:35: Clegg on eurostar Call Clegg

    Nick Clegg tells LBC the sale of Eurostar was a good deal and good value for the taxpayer. He says the state is not simply there to manage transport companies. But he says infrastructure - particularly HS2 - carries many benefits for the country. The line "is something which is long long long overdue", the deputy prime minister adds.

     
  98.  
    @AlexForsythBBC Alex Forsyth, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: So @David_Cameron seems to have unified political parties from across the spectrum in their response to his position on #debates

     
  99.  
    09:25: Clegg on drugs policy Call Clegg

    Meanwhile, over on LBC's Call Clegg phone-in, the deputy PM is talking about drug laws. Mr Clegg says the full force of the criminal justice system should be focussed on those criminals and gags who peddle illegal drugs and "profit from misery" of addiction. The comments come after news that the Liberal Democrats' manifesto will include a pledge to hand drugs policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

    The system at the moment "just doesn't make sense", Mr Clegg says, but adds that drugs will still remain illegal and there will still be civil penalties for users.

     
  100.  
    09:22: Nicola Sturgeon on debates
    Nicola Sturgeon

    SNP leader of Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is the latest politician to criticise David Cameron over his refusal to take part in more than one TV debate. She says he is "clearly running scared of having to answer for his government's record of failure and incompetence - and this arrogance in trying to lay down the law is all about getting out of debates, not taking part".

    "I will debate him anytime, anywhere, on any number of occasions. However we have accepted the broadcasters' proposals, and believe we should stick with that, rather than allow a Tory Prime Minister to dictate the terms of debate."

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A robotClick Watch

    The latest in robotics including software that can design electronics to solve problems

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.