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Gordon Brown has come back with some more answers to Mumsnetters' questions!

(81 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 20-Oct-09 16:43:17

This just in from PM, Gordon Brown smile:

Mumsnetters - I'm really grateful to you for taking the time to talk to me on Friday. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to answer all your questions but I enjoyed reading the whole thread over the weekend. Justine and Carrie have picked out some questions that were missed and I've provided answers on all of them below.

I also wanted to reassure people on swine flu as I know that's been of big concern elsewhere on the site, so there's some information on that too. If I've missed anything that's still a burning question please do write to me at Downing Street - we will always do our best to answer you directly or ensure you get the most up to date information from the relevant government department.

I hope to come back soon. Maybe we can do the next one as a video-link?


FlamingoBingo, you asked about home education

Our priority is always what's best for children.

We absolutely support a parent's right to choose to home educate their children and of course the vast majority who do so do a great job. In fact, part of the Badman Report sets out ways in which we could help home educators. It identified where Government could do more for parents with children with special educational needs and for those who want more access to things like exams and further education.

We do know, however, that there are a very small number of cases where local authorities have concerns around home educated children. So it is right that in a proportionate way we ensure that we can respond when this is the case. Overall, we believe that the Badman report is fair and balanced and should be seen as a positive thing for home educated children, ensuring they are getting the education they are entitled to and that they are safe and well.

Hatchypom you asked about the cost of cochlear implant upgrages for your daughter

It's difficult for me to answer this one as I don't know the details of your particular case. What I can say is that cochlear implants would usually be free on the NHS. If you send me your details, I can ask the Department of Health to look in to this for you. A number of posters have asked if I can go into more detail on their specific questions or if I can cover off the ones I missed. Anybody can write to me at any time at 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA and we will always try to get you the most up to date information from the relevant department.

Paranoid2 - on premature children and the school starting date

Up the age of 5, it's up to parents to decide when their child should start school. Some parents want their child to start earlier than 5, so we're looking at whether all authorities should make places available from the September after a child turns 4.

On the other hand, some parents like yourself, may feel they want their child to start later than this. Currently, no child has to start until they are 5 years old and schools must hold a place for them.

You're right however, once a child turns 5, they do have to attend school. I'm sorry you feel this puts your child at a disadvantage. However we think that leaving it till later would mean some children would start long behind others, so we think we have the balance right.

Buca - on the children of asylum seekers

Buca - you are absolutely right that we always need to think about the impact of policies on children, so I can assure you that we aren't cutting the amount of money given to lone parent asylum seekers. All those waiting for a decision on their case are provided with housing, a family allowance, healthcare and their children go to local schools - and the amount of money we are providing for asylum seeking families went up by 5.2% this year.

The majority of asylum seekers are receiving more support and we have made the system fairer by standardising the rate for all new asylum claims for single adults. So there has been a change - but we have rightly focussed throughout on protecting the most vulnerable and making sure that kids have all the help they need.

StewieGriffinsMom - you asked about Trident

We all want a world free of nuclear weapons and I've always said we should have the minimum deterrent necessary. Since 1997, Britain has cut the number of nuclear warheads by 50% and I recently announced that I'm prepared to look at reducing our nuclear weapon submarines from four to three.

Our policy on Trident is in line with all our international agreements on non-proliferation, and I'm determined that the world must go further. So just a few weeks ago I went to the UN Security Council and put forward a global deal where countries that already have nuclear weapons offer civil nuclear power to those countries prepared to give up their plans to obtain nuclear weapons. In return, countries like ours who already have nuclear weapons will play our part by reducing the global total.
There is more detail about the deal here, and I'm proud that Britain played such a leading role in a campaign that will make all of our children safer.

Policywonk - on incapacity benefit

The idea behind the new assessment is to look at what people can do, rather than what they can't and to make sure those who face barriers in getting back in employment have the help they need to do so.

Of course, we understand that there'll always be some people who can't work due to their disability and we'll continue to make sure these people receive the support they need.

As far as the assessments themselves are concerned, they are carried out by fully trained, experienced doctors and nurses who undergo rigorous training on how they do this and show they are capable of carrying out the assessments properly.

What's more, all the work carried out by these healthcare professionals is subject to a yearly audit within Atos and this audit is in turn checked by senior medical professionals from Atos and by Government doctors.

Thanks for what you said about DFID and our successes on development. It is one of the things I'm proudest about our record in government, but actually the sustained applause should go to the public - it's the campaigning of people all over the country that has made our successes possible, so thanks to you for your commitment.

To everyone asking about swine flu
There has been some confusion about which vaccines are safe for mums-to-be, and I know there have been some reports which suggest Pandemrix is not recommended by the World Health Organisation. So let me reassure you that position is now out of date, it goes back to the summer before the vaccine was licensed. The World Health Organisation supports the use of vaccines as recommended by the respective regulatory authorities.

Now the European Medicines Agency and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have recommended that the GSK vaccine is given as one dose that gives instant protection from swine flu. People who have the other vaccine which requires two doses have to wait three weeks between them and they are not protected until the second - we'd rather people were protected as quickly as possible. For more information you can go to

For latest news and information from Downing Street visit the Number 10 website

VictoriousSponge Tue 20-Oct-09 16:44:07

me on drunken yobs in town centres at weekends?

otherwise vgd tick

corblimeymadam Tue 20-Oct-09 16:47:07

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wilbur Tue 20-Oct-09 16:47:07

Didn't get my cyclists vs lorries question answered.

Still no clue on the biscuits either grin.

wilbur Tue 20-Oct-09 16:48:07

Good that he came back with more info though. And hope he got a laugh out of franca's berlusconi q - I certainly did.

herbietea Tue 20-Oct-09 16:53:28

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StewieGriffinsMom Tue 20-Oct-09 16:53:36

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castille Tue 20-Oct-09 17:00:22

Biscuitegate made it on to the French news review prog I was watching this lunchtime.

They thought it most entertaining because of course that is all they reported mumsnetters asking the PMhmm

ParanoiaBigPumkinDestroyer Tue 20-Oct-09 17:03:37

No comment on entry to grammar schools in Kent and the 11plus tutoring circus - I think I'll drop him a line as suggested - but glad he came back to answer some more PMQs

BobbingForPeachys Tue 20-Oct-09 17:05:11

He still missed mine but good show returning with some answers nonetheless.

policywonk Tue 20-Oct-09 17:15:27

Ooo-er. I have some people who say otherwise re. his answer on incapacity benefit, but I guess there's no chance of drawing him into a debate about it.

Thanks for coming back with an answer, Gordon. Good luck in May.

aliceinwunderland Tue 20-Oct-09 17:19:07

Wow.... another reason why I love you GB!

Much more genuine than the 'Emperor's new clothes' of an alternative facing us next May.

anastaisia Tue 20-Oct-09 18:16:50

erm; I'm not sure that the home ed 'answer' actually answers any of the very informed and intelligent questions actually asked. Sounds just like all the letters from MPs coming back with the party line. The questions actually asked talked about the quality of evidence, the select committee process etc.

InmyheadIminParis Tue 20-Oct-09 18:20:57

V. good show. Gold Star. smile
He couldn't win on biscuitgate - if he'd answered the question now the critics would have just said he'd done it because they made him.
Good luck GB in May - I'm still hmm about the childcare vouchers, but we got a straight answer. And when I think of the alternative <<shudders>>

hatwoman Tue 20-Oct-09 19:08:41

I'm not suprised he did this. I have heard it said that he doesn't like letting things lie and that he doesn;t like delegating. I bet he did it himself.

I do, however, feel a bit cross at the reply on asylum seekers combined with him ignoring my question on human rights (I know I'm like a stuck record and I know no-one else cares...sorry.) He sounds so very caring but in actual fact a Labour govt was happy to see asylum seekers destitute - and to defend its legal right to render them destitute. When legally challenged it defended its policy all the way to the House of Lords (when HOL was essentially our highest court). The HOL ruled its policy unlawful under the Human Rights Act and it was only then that it was forced to change.

the above didn't apply to asylum seekers with families - but it was still, imo, one of the most shocking labour policies of the last few years - that it was ok for people to have literally nothing on the streets of the UK. so it sticks in the gullet a bit to hear him come over all concerned about asylum seekers.

rant over. still the least bad option and all that...

Lilyloooohhhh Tue 20-Oct-09 19:17:23

Good on him for coming back and answering them
he does say Justine and Carrie picked out these questions .......

MrsJiggle86 Tue 20-Oct-09 19:19:57

I noticed the papers were making out it was all about biscuits, he also ignored the main q's, the papers should of pointed out his ignorance to important matters that were raised, it really wouldnt of hurt him to answer the biccy one aswell though for the laugh hmm

mollythetortoise Tue 20-Oct-09 19:31:54

good for him. I do think he is a decent man. Don't think anyone has come back and answered more questions before.

AbricotsSecs Tue 20-Oct-09 19:33:35

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Podrick Tue 20-Oct-09 19:40:43

Why not have all questions answered by advisors to the PM? Why just cherry pick?

policywonk Tue 20-Oct-09 19:41:49

Agree hatwoman re. the asylum answer (and human rights too grin)

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 20-Oct-09 19:51:04

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justaboutautumn Tue 20-Oct-09 19:57:06

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mollythetortoise Tue 20-Oct-09 19:58:36

Podrick - justine and Carrie picked the questions not GB

midnightexpress Tue 20-Oct-09 20:19:13

Good on him for coming back to answer some more questions. Shame he didn't say more about Afghanistan, IMO.

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