David Cameron defends £50,000 cost of PM Direct sessions

Labour MP says: 'This is a lot of taxpayers' money to be wasting on what are essentially publicity events for the Prime Minister'

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David Cameron has been accused of wasting taxpayers' money "trying to get on TV" after it emerged that PM Direct meetings have cost more than £50,000 in two years.

The Prime Minister insisted that costs for the town hall-style events, where he is questioned by members of the public, were "minimised as far as possible".

But Labour MP Pamela Nash, who uncovered the cost through a parliamentary question, said: "This is a lot of taxpayers' money to be wasting on what are essentially publicity events for the Prime Minister, whilst he is making so many cuts, leaving families on average £891 worse off this year.

"Given that most people in these audiences look as bored as the rest of us are with Cameron's excuses for how bad the economy is doing, perhaps he should spend some more time listening to people, rather than talking at them.

"My constituents just wish that he would spend less public money trying to get on TV, and more trying to get our economy moving."

There were nine PM Direct meetings in 2012 at a cost of more than £3,000 per event.

Mr Cameron visits different parts of the country to answer questions from local residents for PM Direct, often in workplaces.

In a written response to the Airdrie and Shotts MP, Mr Cameron replied: "Since my appointment as Prime Minister I have held a series of public meetings which provide members of the public with an opportunity to raise local, regional or national issues with me directly.

"Each PM Direct event has been arranged in accordance with ministerial and civil service guidelines.

"Costs have been minimised as far as possible. The cost of any security provided by the police is a matter for the relevant police force."

The total cost of eight events in 2011 was £22,913, and £30,376 over nine meetings in 2012.

Downing Street could not provide a breakdown of what the money was spent on.