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Ian Lavery asks for meeting with PM over jailed Nick Dunn

Ian Lavery MP has requested a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron about jailed former paratrooper Nick Dunn.

Mr Dunn, from Ashington, is one of six British ex-servicemen currently being held in an Indian jail on suspicion of possessing illegal fire arms.

Mr Cameron said he raised the issue personally with ministers in India and discussed it with Foreign Secretary William Hague.

He added, if a meeting would help, he would be very happy to arrange it.

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Cameron praises Nobel prize winner

Prime Minister David Cameron has praised Newcastle-born Nobel prize winner Peter Higgs who predicted the existence of a fundamental particle which has been named after him.

Professor Higgs was born in Newcastle in 1929. His discovery of the Higgs boson was ratified by scientists at Cern last year. The Prime Minister praised Professor Higgs and the UK's "world-leading" universities.

Prime Minister David Cameron answers your questions

Earlier today, September 30, the Prime Minister told this programme decriminalising drugs was not the right thing to do. David Cameron said it would only make them more available and increase their use.

Answering questions sent in by ITV News Tyne Tees viewers, he also said the 2RRF - second battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers - which recruits heavily from this region, must be axed.

This is despite the Defence Secretary being heckled yesterday over the jobs that will be lost in the North East.

Our Political Correspondent Paul Brand spoke to Mr Cameron at the Tory Party conference.

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Your questions: Could you live on £53 a week?

Casee Leigh asked via Facebook: Do you think you can live on £53 a week?

David Cameron has been asked if he could live on £53 a week. Credit: Press Association.

David Cameron's response: Of course no one thinks living on benefits is easy. And it appears that the person you are referring to may have actually been receiving more than that.

But what's important is that we are fixing the tax and welfare system so that it works for hardworking people. We're cutting income tax for 24 million people, taking 2.2 million out of income tax altogether and making work pay by introducing Universal Credit.

But let’s also be clear: the benefits system provides a significant range of support for people when they need it - from housing help, to financial support when people fall ill and can't work, help for people who are caring for others, help for people in work and on a low income - I could go on.

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Your questions: Why welfare reform over tax reform?

Lara Turner asked via email: How do you legitimise the choice to prioritise unfair cuts to the welfare bill, over boosting the economy by chasing tax avoidance, particularly by large corporations?

Demonstrations have taken place against the Government's welfare reform. Credit: Press Association

David Cameron's response: I don’t accept that cuts to the welfare bill are unfair. We live in a country where one pound in every three the government spends goes on pensions and benefits.

This is simply not affordable. So we are reforming welfare in a way that is sensible and fair: making sure that work pays and that help goes to those who genuinely need it.

What would be unfair is leaving another generation locked in the benefits system, leaving the taxpayer to pay for those who choose not to work, and leaving our children’s generation to pick up the rest of the bill.

And it’s not a case of prioritising welfare reform over tax avoidance – we’re doing both. In fact we’ve already committed hundreds of millions into clamping down on this – and I’ve made dealing with tax avoidance a top priority for the G8 which Britain is hosting this year.

We are getting the leaders of the world’s richest countries around a table to deal with this.

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Your questions: Why were disability benefits changed?

Shaun Griffiths asked via email: Why was the criteria for PIP (Personal Independence Payment) changed from 50 metres to 20 metres?

The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Credit: REUTERS/John Kolesidis

David Cameron's response: We want to make sure that support goes to those who need it the most.

Higher rate mobility payments are meant for the most disabled - people unable to walk or virtually unable to walk. We asked experts for their views - and we've now decided that 20 metres is a fair criteria to set.

But it’s not a cast iron limit. If you can move further than 20 metres but can't do it safely, reliably, repeatedly, or in a reasonable time period - then you can still qualify for the enhanced rate payments.

I know how difficult some of our changes to the welfare system are. But they're the right thing to do. Under Labour, people were often put on Disability Living Allowance for life without any regular assessment to see if their condition had changed.

The new system will include a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews. Because for us, it's about looking at people as individuals, not labelling them by their condition.

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Your questions: Is Thatcher's funeral cost justified?

Ross Casement asked via email: At a time when you are slashing benefits to poor families and calling for austerity, how can you justify £10 million for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral?

Baroness Thatcher's funeral will take place in London next Wednesday. Credit: Press Association

David Cameron's response: Regardless of your views on Mrs Thatcher, we can all agree that she was a towering figure in our history: the first woman Prime Minister; a statesman who helped end the Cold War, won the Falklands war and put our country back on the map.

I believe it’s right that we should mark those exceptional achievements with a proper occasion.

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David Cameron defends 'bedroom tax' system

The Prime Minister vigorously defended his so-called controversial 'bedroom tax' in an interview with ITV News. Asked if it was fair that children "bear the brunt of this kind of policy", he said:

"There is a human impact on the entire country that we currently spend £23 billion a year on housing benefit, that is more, to put it in context than we spend on the entire transport and home office budgets.

"We only spend £33 billion on our entire defence system for the UK. So it's not sustainable to go on with a housing benefit system and a benefit system."

Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking to ITV News presenter Julie Etchingham Credit: ITV News
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