Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Crunch questions for top politicians

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The pupils were at No11 as part of the BBC's School Report News Day

School Reporters have been giving some of the UK's top politicians a grilling over the state of the economy.

Teenagers from three schools put the questions to Chancellor Alistair Darling, Conservative shadow chancellor George Osborne and the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable.

School reporters were eager to find out how the credit crunch was affecting young people and what each of the UK's main political parties would do to help the economy.

Creating jobs

Ten pupils from Exmouth Community College in Devon pulled no punches in asking the Chancellor who was to be blame for the credit crunch, how much he earned and whether he should take a pay cut.

They also put Mr Darling to the sword over the lack of Saturday jobs in their area as a result of the downturn.

Mr Darling said: "No government can ever stop a situation where people will be without jobs from time-to-time. What we can do is help them get back into work.

"The key thing is for us to ensure as much as we can that we support things that create jobs."

Pupils meet George Osborne

He said the pupils should concentrate on hard work, getting good skills and an education to make them attractive to potential employers.

It was the task of two reporters from Hinchley Wood School in Surrey to interview the shadow chancellor, George Osborne.

Jennifer and Kirstie were among more than 20 students who had been focusing on how the credit crunch is affecting young people and their education.

They asked Mr Osborne if the recession would have long term effects for teenagers.

"It's going to change our country and the way we think about ourselves," he replied.

"You are growing up in a very different country to the one you were growing up in a couple of years ago because the economy - in other words how much money the country has... how much we can afford - is very different today."

He added that some schools would be getting new teachers because many people who had lost jobs in areas such as banking were switching careers to teaching.

Mr Cable told four School Reporters from Guildford County School in Surrey that despite the recent good press over his performance in relation to the economy, he expected a "good kicking" in the future.

Vince Cable is interviewed by School Reporters

"I've had some very good publicity but I've been around sufficiently long to know that these things don't last forever," he said.

The school had linked to another school in Johannesburg, to ask students there how the global economic slowdown was affecting life in South Africa.

And Mr Cable was asked by Becky, Tom, Jayant and Jamie to explain the roots of the credit crunch and what his party had done to warn people it was coming.

"We argued a few years ago that the banks were lending too much money to people to buy houses because the price of houses was growing to ludicrous levels," he said.

"People were getting into debt and we thought at the time that the government or Bank of England should have been intervening."

Explaining his love of ballroom dancing, Mr Cable said he took it up about 20 years ago when he and his late wife wanted something to do after the children grew up.

"It's probably not the kind of dancing you do when you're out at raves," he added.



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