Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Wednesday in Westminster

Today in Parliament & Yesterday in Parliament
By Simon Jones
Programme Editor

Photo of Big Ben and signpost
Radio 4 guides you around Westminster

In "Today in Parliament", Robert Orchard reports on a pledge from Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman that the government would "learn the lessons" of the economic downturn.

Standing in for the prime minister at question time, Ms Harman said ministers would "take action" to protect jobs and families.

But she stopped short of apologising for the financial meltdown and accused the Conservatives of focusing on "political gossip" rather than the real concerns of voters.

Ms Harman was responding to shadow foreign secretary William Hague, who had seized on reports of a rift between Chancellor Alistair Darling and the prime minister.

Mr Darling has suggested that the government should show "humility" over its role in the economic crisis.

Mr Hague also taunted the Labour deputy leader over speculation about her own leadership ambitions and urged Ms Harman to get Gordon Brown to say sorry for "past mistakes".

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Vince Cable said the government should use existing legislation to strip the former RBS boss, Sir Fred Goodwin, of his pension.

On Sunday Ms Harman used a television interview to say Sir Fred should not be "counting on" getting the 703,000-a-year pension.

Harriet Harman said that the government was taking "all steps" to challenge the enforceability of Sir Fred's pension contract.

Also on the programme:

• Rachel Hooper has a report on challenges to Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward over the idea of payments being made to the victims of paramilitary violence;

• Peter Mulligan has the details as MPs look into the work of the UK Border Agency;

• And Keith Macdougall was watching as peers urge ministers to do more to promote music education in schools.

In 'Yesterday in Parliament', Sean Curran and David Wilby, wrap up the day's parliamentary events.

Tune in to Today in Parliament on BBC Radio 4 tonight at 2330 and Yesterday in Parliament tomorrow morning at 0831 on Radio 4 Long Wave and digital radio.


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