Well with the first leaders’ debate out of the way and lots of facts flying back and forth FactCheck took to the transcripts.

The analysis
“The Metropolitan Police have 400 uniformed officers in their human resources department.”
David Cameron, Leaders’ debate, 15 April 2010

A lot of police officers pushing pencils when they could be on the beat in London’s streets?

Even for a force that employs more than 33,000 police officers, having 400 of them in the Human Resources department sounds like a lot, as Cameron implies.

But the Met itself paints a different picture, suggesting the large HR department figure is down to the fact that officers training other officers are classed as working for HR.

The Met told FactCheck that in 2009/10 its HR dept had 208 officers teaching new recruits; 26 officers training new PCSOs; 63 officers in the Driver Training School teaching and assessing; 55 officers in other training roles; 30 officers undertaking sergeant and inspector assessments and other work; eight police officers in the Police Federation, Superintendents’ Association and Staff Support Associations; and eight officers in positive action, recruitment, community engagement, duties and other areas of HR work.

That makes a total of 398. So Cameron is statisically correct but, as the Met points out, it would be unrealistic to expect such a huge force not to receive training from fully-fledged police officers.

“Why is it that when I put forward, Liberal Democrats put forward, a law which would have given all of you and everyone watching now the right to sack their MP if their MP is corrupt, the Labour MPs voted against it, the Conservative MPs didn’t even bother to vote. Why is it when we supported a deal to clean up the really murky business of party funding which has affected all parties, you blocked it, you blocked it?”
Nick Clegg, Leaders’ debate, 15 April 2010

FactCheck spoke to the Liberal Democrats, who cited two amendments to the Political Parties and Election Bill proposed by the Lib Dems in June 2009.

One of these amendments – moved by Lib Dem peer Lord Tyler – called for an Electoral Commission review and report on the idea for local referenda on the recall by constituents of an MP found guilty of misconduct.

Nick Clegg was wrong to say that Labour MPs opposed it and Conservative MPs didn’t bother to vote – as the amendment was actually proposed in the House of Lords. However, Labour peers did oppose it and Conservative peers did abstain.

Conservative peer Lord Bates said that the amendment had merit but that the mechanism for recall needed to be explained more clearly, while Lord Bach, a minister in the Ministry of Justice, agreed that the proposal merited consideration but that the Electoral Commission was not best placed to undertake the work.

The second amendment was also moved by Lord Tyler, and proposed a £50,000 cap on donations to political parties. Lord Bates said that the amendment did not go far enough and expressed concern about public funding of political parties. Lord Tunnicliffe, speaking for the government, also said that he could not support the amendment because it would lead to an increase in the state funding of parties.

So Nick Clegg got his houses of parliament mixed up when he said that Labour MPs voted against and Conservative MPs abstained on Lib Dem proposals for the early recall of MPs, as this amendment was proposed in the House of Lords. But he was on safe ground saying that the Conservative and Labour leaders blocked Lib Dem proposals for capping donations to political parties.

“If you look at…what’s happening with immigration, the difference between the amount of people going to live overseas and those coming here, it’s been often as high as 200,000. That’s equivalent to two million across a decade…If you look at the numbers, net migration levels before 1997 were never greater than 77,000 a year. Under your government, they’ve never been less than 140,000 a year. That’s a very big number.”
David Cameron, Leaders’ debate, 15 April 2010

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show net migration for the UK for every year from 1991 to 2008. It does indeed show that between 1991 and 1997 the highest figure was 77,000 (in 1994) and that between 1998 and 2008 the lowest figure was 140,000 (in 1998). In 2004, 2005 and 2007 the figures exceeded 200,000.

That might be the “equivalent of two million across a decade” but what did net migration actually add up to between 1998 and 2008? 1,978,000.

Cameron said that net migration “never” exceeded 77,000 before 1997. We see from the figures cited above that they did not between 1991 and 1997, but what about before 1991?

More ONS figures show that between 1975 and 1990 net migration never exceeded 58,000.

So Cameron’s statistics are right, if rounded up by 22,000. Although he doesn’t make reference to the enlargement of the EU.

“The spending on police will continue to rise so that we have enough police there on the beat for you.”
Gordon Brown, Leaders’ debate, 15 April 2010

Brown was keen to skewer the Tories over police funding.  He said in contrast to the Conservatives, Labour spending on the police would “rise”, but its election manifesto has a slightly more sober promise.

It pledges to: “provide the funding to maintain police and PCSO numbers”.

FactCheck thinks this is just a subtle difference in the use of words – between “maintain” and “rise” – but it is a difference nonetheless.

Spending may well have to rise with inflation to maintain current policing levels, but the manifesto shows it will not be an extra spend as such, as Brown’s claim may appear to some.

“I just read the other day that head teachers now by e-mail over the last year, have received – get this – 4,000 pages of instructions from on high from Whitehall. This is crazy.”
Nick Clegg, Leaders’ debate, 15 April 2010

So where did Clegg read about this “crazy” situation?

Well, according to the Lib Dem press office, it was actually worked out by the Conservatives, who found government emailed 4,000 pages of guidance notes to schools during 2008/9. FactCheck was told by the National Association of Head Teachers that the claims sounded right, but it had not carried out its own research.

Due to the election purdah period the Department for Children, Schools and Families can’t comment, but at the time the Conservatives released this figures DCSF dismissed the claim with the following: “This allegation confuses schools’ legal responsibilities with communications to schools.

“Schools do have responsibilities in law, and we make no apology for alerting them to the information they need to deal with important issues like child protection, bullying and race equality.”

“Our death rate from cancer is actually worse than Bulgaria’s.”
David Cameron, Leaders’ debate, 15 April 2010

According to the most recent Eurostat health data, Bulgaria had 170.3 cancer related deaths per 100,000 of the population in 2007 whereas the UK had 178.1.

Cancer Research UK has confirmed that these are the most up to date on the matter. While respected health policy think tank The King’s Fund says that a study undertaken in 2002 did show a higher death rate from cancer in the UK than in Bulgaria.

However, differences between the general health of the population in the two countries and the age and quality of data collected mean that this comparison is unlikely to be reliable. They said that “while evidence does suggest that the UK’s cancer survival rates have lagged behind some other countries in Europe we do know that survival rates here are improving, following reductions in waiting times for screening and treatment and other improvements in cancer services”.

In response to Cameron’s claim, the health secretary Andy Burnham said, “premature cancer mortality in England is far lower than in Bulgaria”.

However, Mr. Cameron didn’t point towards premature death and on the basis of the most recently available research he’s right.