Bradford East MP David Ward told Bradford West MP George Galloway to “stop lying” as the pair clashed during a fiery debate held in front of an audience of students.

Mr Galloway immediately hit back, telling the Liberal Democrat MP that his remark was “defamatory” and asking him to reconsider what he had said.

The pair, along with Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe and Shipley MP Philip Davies, were taking part in a debate on education policy, organised by Bradford College Student Union President Piers Telemacque.

Sparks flew as the MPs heatedly debated the sale of the student loans book to the private sector.

Amid suggestions that the interest charged on such loans could shoot up, Mr Ward stated that interest on the repayments could be controlled through regulation.

Mr Ward then challenged one critic in the audience to put a figure on the interest students would pay on a loan held by a private company. He said: “It’s not about who owns the loan book. You cannot answer the question that I asked and it’s a shame on you.

“You are informing young people and telling them that this is absolutely outrageous and you have no idea what it would cost them.”

Then Mr Galloway, sitting alongside Mr Ward at the top table, entered the fray. The Respect MP said: “Unfortunately for you David it is the electorate that ask the questions not the MPs, and everyone has heard your answer and you will be judged on that.”

Mr Galloway was then interrupted by Mr Ward who said: “Stop lying George, just stop lying.”

Mr Galloway warned Mr Ward that he might want to consider what he had just said, claiming that it was a very defamatory statement.

Mr Galloway then took aim with an outburst directed at Mr Ward. He said: “If I have one remaining political ambition in life it’s to ensure that you are the ex-MP for Bradford East.

“And trust me, I’m pretty sure that ambition will be fulfilled.”

Speaking after the debate, Mr Ward said he “absolutely” stood by his remark. He clarified that his comment in the meeting related to the suggestion that students would have to pay off huge amounts of debt.

On being called a liar, a spokesman for Mr Galloway said: “He is quite pragmatic about it. David Ward’s days are numbered. He is not going to retain that seat, so George is quite sanguine about it.”