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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 12:46 GMT
Point-by-point: Question time
All the main points from prime minister's questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday 15 February.

  • Prime Minister Tony Blair sent his congratulations to Conservative leader David Cameron, who has become a father for the third time.

  • Shadow foreign secretary William Hague, standing in for Mr Cameron, rose to cheers from all sides of the house. "It's probably the first time in history at question time that all three parties have been represented by a stand-in for the real leader," he said to laughter and roars of "more, more!"

  • Mr Hague, who was facing the prime minister across the despatch box for the first time since resigning as party leader in 2001, questioned why Mr Blair continued to back a new law banning the "glorification" of terror, which he said was unworkable. He accused Mr Blair of "posturing" saying the Tories wanted a "watertight law designed to catch the guilty rather than a press release law designed to catch the headlines". He said it was another example of "ineffective authoritarianism".

  • Mr Blair said the Conservative plans did not cover written statements or images - something denied by Mr Hague. He said dropping support for glorification legislation would send out the wrong signal and "dilute and weaken" vital new laws. And he found the Tory position "incredible" given events of recent weeks. Mr Blair said Mr Hague's jokes were good, but his judgement not so.

  • Acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said that rather than introducing "ambiguous and controversial" offences such as glorification, the government should move to allow phone-tap evidence in anti-terror trials.

  • Mr Blair said security services considered that such a move could jeopardise efforts to bring terrorists to justice and the debate over it continued.

  • Mr Blair said he accepted "far more" needed to be done in tackling gun crime as he sent best wishes to PC Rachael Bown who was shot on Monday.

  • Mr Blair said that a mandatory five-year maximum sentence for possession of an illegal firearm had made an impact but "tough" new powers would be unveiled soon.

  • In his second set of questions, Mr Hague read out a quote from deputy prime minister John Prescott about unitary authorities and asked Mr Blair what it meant.

  • A smiling Mr Blair said: "I think it is very, very clear."

  • "I thought we would get an up to date translation," replied Mr Hague, who then called for referendums in areas where county councils could be abolished, to stop what he called the drift towards regional government. He called on Mr Blair to have a "deathbed conversion" to democracy.

  • Mr Blair said there was no need for a conversion to democracy. "He and I stood in a democratic election in 2001 and I also remember the result," Mr Blair said. He said the government would consult on the best way forward on unitary authorities and county councils - but had already held a referendum on regional government.

  • Liberal Democrat leadership contender Simon Hughes asked why house prices had risen so much under Labour, pricing many first-time buyers out of the market.

  • Mr Blair said house prices had risen under Labour "because of the strong economy" but the government was taking action through shared equity schemes to help first-time buyers.


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