Gordon Brown’s Responses to The Student Room

In our ‘Student Question Time’ series all the main party leaders will answer questions posed by Student Room members:


* Nick Clegg’s answers are live here
* Caroline Lucas’ answers are live here
* David Cameron’s answers are live here

Today, following his appearance on the second of the live TV leader debates, we have The Prime Minister Gordon Brown, leader of The Labour Party.

Thank you to Mr Brown for taking the time to respond personally to young voters and thank you to the members who submitted such excellent questions.

Question 1Asked by eddy2375:

How do you plan to respond to the growing prevalence of unpaid internships, including parliamentary internships? What is your view on unpaid internships, placements and work experience in relation to the law and to National Minimum Wage rules? How will you ensure that internships are open to all, rather than to those who are in a position to work for free?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“We’ve got to support the aspirations of people from all backgrounds so that everyone can benefit from internships. And employers must respect the legal obligations they have to all people performing work experience.

Our Manifesto sets out our commitment to open up opportunity for people from families on low incomes to enter professions like the media and law, expanding paid internships for students. To increase social mobility, careers advice for young people, including for younger children, will be overhauled, ensuring much better information and guidance.

We are creating a National Internship Service to improve access to professions which will deliver undergraduate internships, with the aim of widening access to professions.

We are also providing funding for 20,000 additional postgraduate places as well as 29,000 graduate-level volunteering places and 3,000 extra places for graduate entrepreneurship and help with business start-ups.”

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Question 2Variations asked by DiamondsAreForever, Ronar, Aimee, Philosopher-of-sorts, Schmokie Dragon:

With many students living independently of their parents, why should student finance depend on their income? Why not be fair, and give everyone an equal platform in which to start their education, giving everyone the same amount of money? Then the rest that they need they can supplement from external sources i.e. a job/overdraft/family.

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“We want everyone to have the chance to go to university if they want to – and more than half of all young people in every social group say they want to go. We have eliminated up-front fees paid by parents and students, and ensured that the repayment of loans is related to ability to pay. Forty per cent of students are in receipt of a full grant with many others eligible for a partial grant and there are bursaries available.

We have commissioned a review of the whole system of student finance which is due to report later this year. Ahead of the review, we have provided universities with funding to recruit an extra 20,000 students this year.”

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Question 3Asked by Prudy:

To what extent do you view university as a place for personal development and interest, learning and beginning research compared to providing training for the business world or world of work?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“The great thing about University is it allows you to explore new cultural interests, meet people from different backgrounds as well as gain the skills you need for the world of work.

I think that students today are perhaps a little more career minded than they were back then. The market for skilled jobs around the world is tougher and more competitive than ever before, due in part to the global economic situation and also to the rise of China and India which are now producing millions of graduates a year.

Obviously it’s a balance, but students are taking seriously the need to prepare for a future career, and we’re keen to support them in that.”

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Question 4Asked by iloverockandroll:

What clubs and societies were you a member of in your university days? Do you still have the same interests today?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“The thing I’m proudest of as a student journalist was the campaign I led to get the University to disinvest from apartheid South Africa. It was a tough fight, but we won it, and it meant a lot to me to be able to talk with Nelson Mandela years later.

I also got involved in the campaign for the cleaners to get decent pay and became the second student to be elected Rector, chairing the governing body of Edinburgh University. I like to think we had a real impact on the University. So I guess you could say I have the same interests today!”

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Question 5Variations asked by Krakatoa, Tednol:

There’s been an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the young to the old over recent years – unsustainable pensions that won’t be available for our generation, huge house price rises and vastly increased healthcare spending primarily for older people – and this is likely to get worse as the baby boomers retire and there will be far fewer workers to pensioners. Do you think this is fair and what will you do, if anything, to address this?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“I don’t believe that the interests of the young and old need to be in conflict. A future fair for all means we can help pensioners live in security but also provide new opportunities for the young.

For example, we will encourage employers to take a flexible approach to older workers, allowing them to continue in work as long as they are willing and able to do so.

At the same time, we will guarantee a job or training place for young people who are out of work for 6 months. And we will help young families and people get on the housing ladder with our commitment of no stamp duty for two years for first time buyers on all house purchases below £250,000.”

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Question 6Variations asked by The-Wi$e-One, SumTingWong, Tawm, ScoCmac, Repressor, Slam, CompactDestruction, Squirrelbo1, passthelemon,The Magic Manatee:

Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“Our music, film and computer games industries are world leaders but they are under severe threat from piracy. The Bill is a considered response, after discussion with all parties, which offers a sanction of an internet suspension only for the most determined file-sharers and after repeated warnings.

I think students who have ambitions to work in the creative industries want to know that there will still be a career for them and a fair reward for the work that they do.”

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Question 7Asked by: Spongepantssquarebob:

What would you do on a gap year if you could take one today?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“I intend to be very busy over the next year but if I was to take a gap year I think I would probably work for a charity. I’ve seen so many fantastic people doing great work for their communities and that’s very inspiring.

I would also take the chance to catch up on some reading and films. I’ve recently saw The Damned United and Invictus but it would be nice to have a chance to see some more.”

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Question 8Asked by: innerhollow:

For some time now, monetary policies have been made independently by the Bank of England, which stops decisions on these policies from being politically biased, thus preventing such situations as interest rates being modified unfavourably simply to garner votes. Similarly, are there any other areas of decision-making you feel would be best delegated to an independent body instead of remaining under government control (i.e. an independent drugs advisory committee) whereby these policies could then be decided free from political bias?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“We often ask independent bodies or people to advise on important issues but I think it’s important to strike a balance, so that ordinary people have a say in decisions and we maintain democratic accountability. For example, we want to give people a vote on a fairer electoral system and the chance to recall MPs who fall below acceptable standards if Parliament itself has failed to act against them.”

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Question 9Asked by: Flossy_, robbo3045, fretter778, Schmokie Dragon, emmarainbow:

How and to what extent will your party continue to fight for LGBT equality/issues? How much of a real priority is this for your party?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“It’s a massive priority for us and a cause we have consistently promoted in the last 13 years. Despite fierce and well-organised opposition, Labour introduced gay adoption, civil partnerships, an equal age of consent, fertility rights for LB women, protection at work and in the delivery of goods and services and an end to the military ban. Going forward there is still a lot to do, including promoting gay rights abroad.

I have already challenged the Ugandan President about proposed anty-gay legislation there and if Labour are re-elected Britain will continue to be one of only a handful of countries with the promotion of LGBT rightly as a formal key plank of foreign policy. And Labour’s Equality Act will ensure that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are treated fairly by public bodies, and we have made a manifesto commitment to reverse the so-called Waddington amendment which saw Tory Lords water down our legislation to protect people from incitement to homophobic hate. I have to question the Conservatives’ commitment to equality after their Shadow Home Secretary said people running B & Bs in their own home should have the right to turn away gay couples, and David Cameron spoke out against repealing Section 28 and voted against allowing gay couples to adopt.”

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Question 10Asked by: tangohead, whizz_kid:

Recent discussions with regard to the cuts that need to be made to recover the national deficit has highlighted (by all parties) the scientific research budget as one of the places where cuts will take place.

I, like many others, believe that science is one of the key ways to bring us out of the economical situation we are in by reducing our dependence on banks. Simultaneously, won’t this result in a brain drain from the UK? What are your views on this, and what are your party policies on scientific research funding?

Gordon Brown’s answer:

“I agree that investment in science will be the key to our economic recovery. By 2010-11, Labour investment in science and research will have doubled from its 1997 level, to over £6 billion. In our manifesto we have promised a ring-fenced science budget in the next spending review.

We’ve discussed with the Obama administration creating a global partnership of nations so that Britain can be an international hub for scientists around the world.

With Labour more young people will be able to study single science subjects. I believe this will boost the number of youngsters who continue to study science after leaving school.”

Thank you Gordon Brown. For more information about The Labour Party, their policies and Gordon Brown visit the Official Labour Party website.

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If you want to know the student reaction to Gordon Brown’s answers, click here?

The other main party leaders will be replying to the same questions on the following days, and includes the student reaction to those questions that are already live:

* Nick Clegg’s answers are live here
* Caroline Lucas’ answers are live here
* David Cameron’s are live here

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