UK Politics

MPs 'overwhelmed' by Twitter questions for Gove

Education secretary Michael Gove
Image caption Mr Gove will be appearing before MPs but answering questions from the public

MPs say they have been "overwhelmed" with responses after they asked the public to send questions via Twitter for Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The education committee is questioning Mr Gove on Tuesday and has asked the public for their input.

It has received thousands of responses on issues ranging from teacher support and careers advice to free schools.

Chairman Graham Stuart rejected suggestions it was effectively asking people to do MPs' work for them.

"It is one more way of trying to break down the barriers between one man at his desk in Whitehall who is in charge of the whole education system and people out there who are on the receiving end," he told BBC 5Live Breakfast.

"If we can do that in a small way, I hope it will make people feel part of the democratic process and also make us better able to do our job of defending and speaking up for people out there who have to live with government policy."

'Hundreds and hundreds'

The public have until 11am on Friday to send in questions via the micro-blogging site - which limits posts to a maximum of 140 characters - using the hashtag #askgove.

Conservative MP Mr Stuart said the submitted questions would be arranged into "themed areas" and MPs would ultimately decide which ones to put to the education secretary at the hearing in Parliament - which normally lasts a couple of hours.

"What we want to do by using Twitter is to ensure the questions are succinct and we can focus on the issues and areas that people out there - whether they are parents, teachers or people involved in social care - want to raise."

Other subjects raised include the future of special needs education and vocational training in England, he said.

"We have been overwhelmed by how many there have been... For the last few days, there have just been hundreds and hundreds and ultimately thousands, I think, of questions."

MPs are seeking to embrace social media and parliamentary rules were relaxed last year allowing them to tweet while in the Commons chamber and committee meetings.

But a number of recent controversies over comments posted by MPs and their staff have focused attention on the medium and how politicians use it to communicate.

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