1. ITV Report

Your questions about the Prime Minister's conference speech answered

Prime Minister David Cameron during his keynote speech to delegates at the Conservative Party annual conference Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Prime Minister David Cameron made a raft of promises in his speech to delegates at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham today.

Among them were pledges to protect NHS funding for a further five years, to raise the personal tax allowance to £12,500 and to scrap the Human Rights Act.

ITV News' Political Editor Tom Bradby has been answering readers' questions in a live Q&A on his Facebook page.

Here are some of the highlights:

Rob Cochrane: Why make promises of what they will do when voted in rather than deliver now?

Tom Bradby: The basic truth, I think, of this week is that the deficit is still huge and dealing with it is going to be a bit of a nightmare - whoever is in power. There are a lot of painful cuts to come if the Tories are back in and this was their way of offering us some light at the end of the tunnel.

Stuart Gilmour: How much impact do these set piece speeches really have?

Tom Bradby: Actually, I think quite a lot. We have seen them move the opinion polls substantially in the past (eg the 2007 election that never was) and they have a huge impact on morale within parties. Politicians rarely get to have three of four minutes on national television to talk to voters (which is effectively what they get) and they do have to make it count.

The Conservatives have pledged to wipe out Britain's deficit Credit: PA

Terry Ridgway: Exactly (or roughly) how much are we in debt?

Tom Bradby: Over a trillion. Or to put it another way, one hell of a lot of money... Something we should probably talk about more than we do.

Amanda Angel Walmsley: Who decides their [MPs'] pay rise each year and am I right [in thinking] that it is 11%? ... It infuriates me [that] every year I have to fight for more than 1%.

Tom Bradby: An independent body decides it, which is why it is such a problem. No one thinks MPs should go back to deciding their own pay, but nor do political leaders think 11% is in any way acceptable. It is a conundrum, as they say.

Stephen Percival: [Ed] Miliband pledged to use £2.5 billion from mansion tax for the NHS. Osborne never said where that money is coming from ... Is Labour the only party to rely on for the NHS?

Tom Bradby: Well, as always, Stephen, they all have holes in their policies. Labour says the £2.5 billion is on top of whatever the Tories promise on the NHS, but that in itself is a slightly strange promise to make. Labour has given itself a huge amount more leeway by saying that it will only eliminate part of the deficit (or, to put it another way, they will go on borrowing quite a lot more), but the IFS [Institute For Fiscal Studies] still reckons they have a nearly ten billion pound black hole to fill themselves - and the measures announced so far (like the re-introduction of the 50p tax rate) only fill a tiny part of that.

Erik Zoha: How will he [David Cameron] be able to deliver strong devolution measures for Scotland when he cannot agree with his backbenchers and members of his own Cabinet, let alone agree with Labour and the Lib Dems?

Tom Bradby: David Cameron is only too keen to give Scotland a lot of devolution - for the reasons I outlined above (it makes things easier for his party in England). The Lib Dems probably agree with him, but Labour is reluctant (for the obvious and opposite reason). But I don't think there is any doubt Scotland will get the powers promised and that David Cameron will be in the vanguard of trying to deliver them, even if that is partly for his own party's narrow interests down south.

Supporters of Scottish independence wave Saltire flags in central Glasgow Credit: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Peter Phipps: Is he [David Cameron] gonna do anything about immigration like cutting down the numbers?

Tom Bradby: Basically, there is not much he can do about immigration within the EU unless we opt to leave. He can limit it for any new members joining the EU (like Turkey) and may well get agreement on this from other big states like Germany who also have their domestic issues. But freedom of movement is a founding principle of the EU and it is highly unlikely to be changed.

Lois Hyett: If the Tories are elected and we have the referendum on the EU will his MP's be allowed a free vote or will they be shackled to a better in Europe line?

Tom Bradby: It is a good question and I don't know the answer, but I would guess he would almost certainly have to give his MPs a free pass to campaign for whichever side they want. But it could be complicated.

Ben Hardie: Will this mean UK citizens can no longer appeal to European Court of Human Rights? I thought the whole point of the court was to make human rights beyond the reach of conventional state governments.

Tom Bradby: You are absolutely right, Ben, and we will be able to take these issues to Europe. We will certainly remain a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which underpins these freedoms. The Human Rights Act was really about making it easier for us to deal with these issues in British courts rather than HAVING to go to Europe and, to be honest, it is still far from clear what will be achieved by scrapping it. The government is refusing to brief us on this tonight, insisting we wait for their 'announcement' on Friday.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage (R) with defected Former Conservative donor Arron Banks Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Gary Bell: The Tories have always said they would never make a pact with Ukip, but how likely do you think [this is] ... if another hung parliament happens next year? Or assuming they have a larger vote than Labour do you think they will continue a coalition with the Liberals?

Tom Bradby: Well, interestingly, they are now actively discussing the possibility of a minority government. The new powers to be granted to Scotland give them a reason (or excuse - delete as appropriate) to ban Scottish MPs from voting on English matters. What that means in practice (since so many Scots MPs are from Labour) is that the Tories might be able to govern relatively effectively without a majority.

I think the party wouldn't much like another coalition with the Lib Dems but never say never. My rule of thumb is that politicians behave differently when it comes down to the basic questions of power.

Paul Fisher: Based on what you've seen over the past week or so, who do you think would make the best PM when we come to next May?

Tom Bradby: Oddly, I think they are both quite suited to the job. Leaving policy aside, you can make the case that Cameron is a good PM because he is pretty calm and considered under pressure. I actually think Miliband has similar characteristics and there is every reason to think he would be - were he in the hot seat - quite similar in approach and style and ability. Not a popular view, but there you are.

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