Question time for Gordon Brown

TWO St Neots school pupils were given the chance to grill the Prime Minister in a face-to-face interview, quizzing him on child poverty and carbon emissions. David Ho and Robyn Barron, who both attend Longsands College, questioned Gordon Brown on the la

TWO St Neots school pupils were given the chance to grill the Prime Minister in a face-to-face interview, quizzing him on child poverty and carbon emissions.

David Ho and Robyn Barron, who both attend Longsands College, questioned Gordon Brown on the latest issues alongside other students from Bedford, Norfolk and Scottish schools.

The interview, which also included a tour of the cabinet room at 10 Downing Street, was part of the School Report News Day which allowed thousands of young reporters across the UK to tackle a range of subjects for BBC television, radio and websites.

David and Robyn met up with a BBC reporter at the railway station in St Neots and filmed on their journey to London for a Look East report on Thursday (March 13).


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When they met the PM, the Year 8 Longsands pupils asked the Labour politician about carbon emissions and child poverty.

The Downing Street website said the PM was impressed with the St Neots' pupils' contribution.

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It said: "One of the best questions of the day was put by Robyn from Longsands College who asked the Prime Minister about child poverty."

He replied: "There are too many children growing up where there's not enough help given."

Mr Brown went on to explain that child benefit had risen to £19 a week and that grants are available to families that have problems and added: "The numbers in absolute poverty now has fallen to 1.6 million. There has been a big drop, but we've got a lot more to do."

Robyn told The Hunts Post she was prepared to put pressure on the PM and re-ask her question if he "skirted around the issue".

She added that Mr Brown was "just like a normal human being".

THE Q&A:

Prime Ministers Questions:

David's question: Labour has been in government since 1997 and the UK signed the Kyoto agreement in 1998. Why is the first successful climate change bill, which is the only real government action against climate change, why is it being made now instead of being made earlier say when England only first signed the Kyoto agreement?

PM's response: Well what we did after 1997 was introduce what was called the climate change levy, which means business has got to cut its emissions, so that was something we did very quickly. We also introduced an aggregates levy for chemical aggregates l and things like that. We also changed the landfill levy and the cost of putting in landfill and then we had a big commission called the stern commission and said, look, what can we do that perhaps other countries aren't doing at the moment? So we became the first country to do the climate change bill. So it's not that we haven't been doing things for the last ten years. It's just that gradually we have seen how important this issue is becoming and how much we have what to do."

Robyn's question: "You describe poverty as the scar that demeans Britain and pledged that the government must do something about it. As you are in the leading position to deal with this situation what results can we expect from you?"

PM's response: "Well, that's a really good question. There are too many children born in to poverty. There are too many children growing up where there's not enough help given. Sometimes they can't afford the basic necessities of life and the clothes they need and sometimes the things they need when they go to school, the money just isn't available in their home or for their family. So what we've been trying to do is to raise child benefit. Child benefit is paid every week to every mother in the country for every child, so that was eleven pounds a few years ago and now it's going to be about nineteen pounds - so it is going up. We've also got to think of the child tax credit which is on top of child benefits. So many families get a lot more for every child that they have and we've given grants to help fund families were there are particular problems so that if you've got to get help to stay on at school you can get help to stay on at school. So the numbers of children in poverty in 1997 was about three and a half million. The numbers in absolute poverty now has fallen to 1.6 million. There has been a big drop, but we've got a lot more to do."

Pictures: JEFF OVERS/BBC WWW.BBC.CO.UK/SCHOOLREPORT

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