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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 13:42 GMT
Brown pays tribute to Reporters
Gordon Brown being interviewed. Pic: Jeff Overs/BBC
Gordon Brown was asked about a range of weighty subjects
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been interviewed by what he called some "very, very good" School Reporters.

Students from four different schools visited him at Downing Street for a TV interview for School Report News Day, tackling him on a range of serious issues including the environment, child poverty and crime.

"You travel all over the world... how are you going to reduce your personal carbon footprint?" was one of the combative first questions, from Heather of St Andrew's School in Bedfordshire.

The PM said he ofset his air journeys by buying carbon credit, and had a solar panel at his home to try to create the electricity for hot water.

He also talked about wanting to create a "national movement" where everyone did their bit for the environment.

If people used "less plastic bags, less packaging, less bottles, less using electricity in the evenings, less short-life electric bulbs, we can start to make a big difference", he said.

Nuclear questions

But that was not enough for the Reporters.

"Why is the first successful climate change bill... being made now instead of being made much earlier?" David from Longsands College, Cambridgeshire, asked him.

That's a really good question
Gordon Brown on being asked about child poverty
Mr Brown replied that in 1997 Labour had quickly introduced a climate change levy, which meant that business had to cut its emissions.

"We also introduced an aggregates levy for chemical aggregates and things like that. We also changed the landfill levy. And then we had a big commission called the Stern Commission...

"So it's not that we've not been doing things over the last 10 years, it's just that gradually we've seen just how important this issue is becoming and how much more we've got to do."

Gordon Brown being interviewed. Pic: Jeff Overs/BBC
The PM was "quite nice", the pupils said
He was then tackled on his decision to build more nuclear power stations.

He talked about the importance of having energy without causing so many carbon emissions.

"So we've taken the best advice possible. We've had a number of inquiries into these issues, and we're satisfied that we can keep the nuclear materials safe, and we're satisfied that over the next few years we can make nuclear power even more safe in the years to come."

'Went pretty well'

They then went on to cover other subjects such as coastal defences, youth centres, youth depression, and gun and knife crime.

I was worried that I was going to have to interrupt, and I was worried that I was going to have to be rude
School Reporter Robyn
Finally, he was asked by Robyn from Longsands about child poverty - which he recently called a "scar that demeans Britain" and which he has ambitious plans to halve by 2010.

"That's a really good question," he said, before listing government measures such as child benefit, child tax credit and special grants.

"The number of children in poverty in 1997 was about 3.5m. The numbers in absolute poverty has fallen to about 1.6m, so there's been a big drop. But we've got a lot more to do," he said.

At the end, the PM asked the students: "Did you find that very difficult? You were very, very good."

Gordon Brown being interviewed. Pic: Jeff Overs/BBC
"Was that difficult?" the PM asked the students
And they described what it had been like to interview "the most powerful guy in the country".

"I think it went pretty well, I was a bit shaky and nervous at first, but then I sorted it out after a bit," said David.

"I was really pleased, because I thought he might be a bit horrible, but he was actually very nice," said Francesca from St Andrew's.

"He was quite nice actually, and he answered our questions fairly well," said Grace from Charles Edward Brooke Girls' School, London.

"I was worried that I was going to have to interrupt, and I was worried that I was going to have to be rude, but I didn't have to interrupt in the end. It was OK," said Robyn.

Pupils from North Walsham High School, Norwich, were also at the interview.

Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg have also been quizzed as part of School Report News Day.

Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and Presiding Officer of the National Assembly of Wales, Dafydd Elis-Thomas, are also all being quizzed.

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