NEWSNIGHT may be losing its interrogator-in-chief but a children's centre in Croydon appears to be training the next generation of Jeremy Paxmans. Steve Reed MP visited Gingerbread Corner last Friday for a pre-election debate with children aged five to 11-years-old. The Croydon North MP could be forgiven for expecting an easy ride but was instead met with the sort of grilling Paxman would have been proud of. While one or two of the questions were light-hearted ("Why do police eat doughnuts?"), the majority showed the children have a keen interest in politics, even if some were reluctant to admit it. Mr Reed was asked why so many MPs are white and male, what he is doing to help homeless people and whether the unemployed should "earn" their benefits by volunteering. One child, channelling his inner Nigel Farage, even asked: "Why are Germans running our country when they created the Second World War?" Sue Moses, chief executive of Gingerbread Corner, in Grenaby Road, Croydon, said the questions were all of the children's creation. "We told them earlier in the week that an MP was coming and we were going to do our own Question Time," she said. "They were obviously very interested because they came up with so many questions and there was no coaching. All I did was print them out. "I have to say I was really proud of them, both of their insightful questions and because they paid an enormous amount of attention to Steve's answers." Mr Reed told the Advertiser he enjoyed being "thoroughly grilled" during his visit, which ended with a trip to the ball pool. "I have to admit they threw some really tough questions at me," he said. "They asked why there are wars, why some people are racist and even why police eat doughnuts. "We're lucky to have such a fantastic childcare centre in Croydon. I only wish there were more places like it." Mrs Moses believes the visit planted seeds of interest that will hopefully ensure the children grow into voters. "Children have a much better idea of politics than you might imagine," she said. "Steve asked one boy, who is ten, whether he was interested in politics. He said no, but then asked lots of politically astute questions. "Politics is something we have to get children interested in from an early age so they know how important it is to have a say about how the country is run. "I think the children took away a greater understanding of why it's important to get involved, which many of them wouldn't have had if they hadn't been offered this opportunity."
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