Week in Westminster: Election TV debates, tax for empty homes and the Chilcot Report

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Week in Westminster: Election TV debates, tax for empty homes and the Chilcot Report

Revised plans for election TV debates could see 7 leaders take part

New plans for the election TV debates have been put forward by broadcasters which would include the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party.

The move follows David Cameron saying he would not take part in any televised debates without the Greens. 

The changes have been designed to overcome the Prime Minister’s refusal to take part in any debate that included UKip’s Nigel Farage and not Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.

But the Liberal Democrats made clear that they remained opposed to their exclusion from a third debate which would see David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband go head to head, insisting they must be allowed to "defend our record" as a party of government.

And Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - which is the fourth-largest party in the Commons with eight MPs - said it was "ludicrous" for it not to be invited when Scottish and Welsh nationalists would be able to make their pitch on-screen.

Mayoral hopeful Tessa Jowell would tax empty London homes

The Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood wrote in the Independent that the 22,000 empty homes were a “scandal”.

She estimated they could house 55,000 people, equivalent to around half the number of Londoners living in temporary accommodation.

Ms Jowell’s plans would see mean local authorities could levy unlimited penalties on owners of homes left vacant for six months or more.

She will join Evening Standard Editor Sarah Sands on the Headline Interview on Monday from 12pm.

Chilcot Report should not be released before election, says Frank Dobson MP

Releasing the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War before the forthcoming general election would be “ludicrous”, according Labour’s Frank Dobson.

The long-serving MP for Holborn and St Pancras told the Headline Interview the inquiry could affect the political campaign of one of the parties.

Some MPs have reacted angrily to the news that inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said he could see “no realistic prospect” of publication before the May 7 election.

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