AROUND 300 youngsters packed into an Enfield school hall last week to grill MPs on policy issues in the run-up to the election.

The event, modelled on the BBC's Question Time, was put on at Latymer School, in Haselbury Road, last Thursday by four members of the school politics society.

Adam Hawksbee, 17, stepped into the shoes of David Dimbleby to chair the panel, which comprised Tory Southgate MP David Burrowes, Labour Edmonton MP Andy Love, Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Poplar and Limehouse Jonathan Fryer, and Douglas Coker, chairman of the Enfield Green Party.

During the debate, Mr Burrowes accused the Government of putting forward an "empty budget", and said the key to jumpstarting the economy was fairer business rates, simpler taxation and reducing National Insurance and red tape.

Mr Fryer voiced concerns the Tories were considering making "severe, rapid cuts" to services as this could cause the country to fall back into recession.

He advocated a lower income tax threshold of £10,000 to help Enfield's small businesses thrive, whereas Mr Croker recommended dispensing with VAT and bringing in a green carbon tax.

Mr Love said the Government was committed to halving the deficit by 2015 and accused the Tories of failing to provide details on specific cuts.

When asked whether the British National Party (BNP) was a fad or a real cause for concern, Mr Fryer said it was "somewhere between the two" and needed to be tackled by undermining the spin they put on immigration issues.

Mr Love said it was impossible to ignore perceptions of issues raised by the BNP because "perception is reality", but admitted the Government had "not come to the end of this challenge".

Referring to the BNP as "detestable" and "vermin", Mr Burrowes advocated speeding the immigration system up because "it has not been controlled properly" to prevent the party using this as a manifesto issue.

Replying to a question on how to cut greenhouse emissions, Mr Croker said "every single avenue needed to be explored" and it was the responsibility of rich nations to assist poorer ones, while Mr Love claimed the Government had gone "as far as it could".

He added: "Any party putting forward that we shouldn't fly around the world wouldn't be in government very long, so we need to persuade people it is in their economic interests to go down this road.

Mr Burrowes stressed his party's commitment to stopping the expansion of Heathrow Airport and claimed nuclear energy was "the way forward to a sustainable future".

Mr Fryer opposed nuclear energy and said the crux of the issue was to provide "realistic" airline prices that incentivised train travel.

Mr Love discounted nuclear energy due to the "huge investment" needed to build the infrastructure, which was currently "impossible".

Both Mr Love and Mr Burrowes also defended their failure to declare overseas trips.

Mr Love visited Cyprus three times between 2004 and 2008, but did not declare an interest when he participated in subsequent debates and early day motions.

Mr Burrowes, who visited Israel in January 2006, participated in two debates, tabled one question, and signed two EDMs.

Mr Burrowes said: "Facts only get in the way of a good story. I did fully declare the 2006 trip and made no attempt to hide it. It was simply an administrative error.

"I have significant Jewish and Cypriot populations in my constituency and it is important to be fully informed."

Mr Love added: "Jollies, freebies, junkets are nothing to do with this at all. I went on three trips for three days each and was speaking at events.

"We did declare our trips, but certain bureaucratic measures need to be taken, and we didn't always put an "R" next to the question.

Both Mr Fryer and Mr Croker supported their two fellow MPs, saying they had "sympathy" with their position.