Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 16:29 UK

PM launching online question time

Gordon Brown's YouTube launch

Gordon Brown is seeking to embrace the digital age by launching an online version of prime minister's questions.

He has pledged to respond to video clip questions submitted via the Downing Street YouTube website.

The prime minister, who is trying to reconnect with younger voters, said the forum would be a "regular event".

Early questions posted covered topics including "political correctness", gun and knife crime, university fees and how "in touch" ministers are.

'Regular event'

BBC political correspondent Jo Coburn said the prime minister's online question time was a bid to counter claims by David Cameron that he was an "analogue politician in a digital age".

It was also an answer to the Tory leader's live webcam broadcasts from his breakfast table, which made him appear more in touch with technology, our correspondent added.

In an introductory video on the Downing Street YouTube site, Mr Brown says the online question and answer sessions will be a "regular event" and offers to answer questions on globalisation, climate change, housing, jobs and public services.

"Politicians get a chance in prime minister's question time and other question times - I think it's time the public had a chance," he says.

Users are asked to file their questions for the Ask The PM sessions via the site by 21 June.

Drugs education

Among the early submissions are queries about improving disabled access to public transport in London and what Mr Brown is "hoping to achieve" by going on YouTube.

One user asks how ministers "stay in touch" with their areas of responsibility - do transport ministers use buses and the Tube, for example.

Another urges Mr Brown to remove university tuition fees in England, bringing it into line with Scotland.

The prime minister is also asked why there will be no referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, whether political correctness has damaged freedom of expression and whether education about drugs should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

After launching the YouTube question and answers initiative, Mr Brown told Google's UK conference that technology was vital to cutting crime and in offering better access to education and healthcare.

"My aim is to ensure we utilise all the innovation at our disposal to improve public services in this country and to give more power to those who use them," he said.

While praising government "successes" with technology in Britain, such as taking broadband into every school, introducing electronic border controls and electronic data records in hospitals, Mr Brown said more needed to be done.

He pledged to push ahead with electronic school report cards, online GP appointment booking, neighbourhood "crime mapping" and video identification of suspects.

Mr Cameron has his own website, Webcameron, which features video footage of the Tory leader.


SEE ALSO
Blair launches YouTube 'channel'
07 Apr 07 |  UK Politics
Cameron attacks 'past it' Brown
22 Mar 06 |  UK Politics

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