BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Point-by-point: Question time
Here are the main points from prime minister's questions in the House of Commons on 18 October, 2006:

  • Labour MP Charlotte Atkins opened the session by asking about health targets. The prime minister said 97% of cancer patients were treated within 60 days. This had not happened a few years ago, he added

  • Conservative leader David Cameron asked about the head of the Army's comments that there were now "lower ambitions for Iraq". Mr Blair said there was a democracy in the country "for the first time in history".

  • Mr Cameron said Mr Blair and the Army chief of staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, were saying different things on Iraq.

  • Mr Blair said it was the UK's policy to withdraw when forces could hand over running of the country's security. He said that UK forces were doing "vital work" in Basra and the military would "stay until the job is done".

  • Mr Cameron said the Tories backed the armed forces, but the message given by the government was "different" from that "on the ground". He asked the PM to pledge to give "frank and candid" answers on Iraq in future.

  • During his answer, Commons Speaker Michael Martin asked the Labour MP Ian Austin to stop heckling, and threatened to expel him if he continued. Mr Cameron, referring to Mr Austin's closeness to Gordon Brown, said he would have to get used to heckling from the "chancellor's boot boys".

  • In his answer to the question from Mr Cameron about Iraq, Mr Blair said the strategy was to "withdraw progressively" while Iraqi security forces take control. He said the UK, US and 20 other nations with forces in Iraq all agreed on this policy.

  • There should be "enormous pride" in UK troops' work, said Mr Blair, adding that he would give "no quarter" in the battle against extremists.

  • Labour MP David Chaytor asked if the government would subsidise new nuclear power stations. Mr Blair said the policy remained the same. Nuclear power was now on the agenda because the UK was going to become more dependent on foreign oil and gas, he added.

  • Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said 3,000 Iraqi civilians were killed each month and, referring to the army chief's comments, asked if the UK presence there had indeed "exacerbated" the situation. Mr Blair said civilians had been killed by terrorists.

  • Sir Menzies said opinions stated by experts meant the government's strategy had "failed". He said if a strategy was failing it should be changed or scrapped.

  • Mr Blair said it was right to discuss this, but added that the strategy would remain one of handing over security to Iraqi forces as and when they were trained up. He said to leave Iraq would be "a gross dereliction of our duty".

  • Labour MP Gwyn Prosser said his town of Dover felt "dumped upon" by plans for an open prison. Mr Blair said he would meet him.

  • Ex-Labour minister Keith Vaz said the video game Bully showed violence by pupils against teachers. He asked Mr Blair to convene a meeting with industry representatives to discuss this and similar situations. The prime minister said he had not seen the game but the ministers responsible were happy to meet those involved.

  • For his second round of questions, Mr Cameron asked for measures to protect Post Offices. Mr Blair said that, under the Tories, there was "nothing" done to protect rural branches. The government's review of sub-post offices would look at "all options", but there could be no more government subsidy.

  • Mr Cameron said scrapping card accounts - held by four million people - could mean the end of rural post offices. Mr Blair said 98% of people becoming pensioners chose to be paid via a bank account. Mr Blair said Tories could not promise more and also make tax cuts.

  • Labour MP Michael Foster said the government should reject calls for "dumbing down" the DNA database. Mr Blair said it was important to build the database to fight crime.

  • Mr Blair told Lib Dem Lembit Opik he would look at the future of air ambulances.

  • Labour MP Jeff Ennis said GSCE pass rates were rising in Grimethorpe. Mr Blair said this had been repeated with "real improvements up and down the country".

  • Conservative Sir Peter Viggers said the Haslar military hospital in Gosport, Hampshire, should be maintained. Mr Blair said media reports of military patients being abused in an NHS hospital had been misinformed. He added that it would be "quite, quite wrong" to criticise NHS treatment of soldiers.

  • Labour's Andrew Love said the international business community had "real confidence" in UK business. Mr Blair said some 85bn of foreign investment had been poured into the UK over the last year - more than the US and China.

  • Labour MP Ben Chapman asked about Ofsted's report of "poor standards of teaching in citizenship". Mr Blair said the subject was "relatively new" to the curriculum and had a "central part" to play in schools.

  • Tory James Paice asked about the reports of "chaos" in the Rural Payments Agency. Mr Blair said 97% of farmers had now received full or partial payments.

  • Labour MP Lynne Jones said Birmingham's council house building budget had fallen. Mr Blair said more money had gone into social housing.


    Gordon Brown The Full Story
    All the action with key points, analysis and reaction from Gordon Brown's weekly grilling

    June 2008 -

    Has China's housing bubble burst?
    How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
    Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific