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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 12:33 GMT
Point-by-point: Question time
The main points from prime minister's questions in the House of Commons from 1200 GMT on Wednesday:

  • Labour's Ian Gibson asked whether giving patients early information on cancer "empowers" them. Prime Minister Tony Blair said there had been "enormous progress" on waiting times and the government's cancer strategy had saved thousands of lives.

  • Conservative leader David Cameron asked whether Mr Blair shared the in-coming US defense secretary's view that we are "not winning" the war in Iraq. Mr Blair said "of course" and said problems had been caused by "outside extremists" and it was important in Iraq and Afghanistan to help the governments handle the situation.

  • Mr Cameron, noting that the US review of Iraq policy is due to be published, asked what changes to Iraq policy Mr Blair wanted to see. Mr Blair said it was important to build the capability of the Iraqi army. He added that capability of the Iraqi government had to improve and the "process of reconciliation" advanced. Mr Blair said a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict was "absolutely necessary" to help stabilise the Middle East.

  • Mr Blair said the UK strategy was "absolutely" clear that we "stand on the side of people who stand up for democracy".

  • Labour's Ann Clwyd asked whether Mr Blair would tell President Bush that the UK was committed to fighting tyranny. Mr Blair said it was important to send a "very clear signal" that the UK's mission was to support democracy.

  • Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell asked whether "phased withdrawal" from Iraq was an option. Mr Blair said the UK's strategy had not changed.

  • Sir Menzies said the government was "wholly dependent" on Washington's decisions. Mr Blair said it was "very important" that we "make it clear" that forces in Iraq would take on enemies.

  • Mr Cameron asked Mr Blair to confirm that this year's reading tests had got worse. Mr Blair said the figure of an 83% pass rate was a "huge improvement" over figures under the previous Tory government.

  • This showed the "complacency of the government", Mr Cameron replied. He said young people leaving school had had most of their education under a Labour government. Mr Blair said results had improved at ages 11, 14 and 18, but there was a "long way to go", even though the situation was a "darn site better" than before 1997.

  • Mr Cameron said more 16-year-olds were not in employment, training or education. The prime minister said Conservatives wanted to "cut investment" in this area.

  • Conservative Bernard Jenkin asked why economic growth under Labour had been beaten by that of Ireland. Mr Blair said it was "more relevant" to compare it with before Labour came to power.

  • Labour's Andrew Dismore asked whether resources for free university admissions would continue. The prime minister said the policy, introduced in 2001, had been a "wonderful thing" for poorer families.

  • Mr Blair said domestic homicide numbers were down and there was "far greater cooperation" between the relevant agencies.

  • Gordon Marsden, Labour, asked whether adult skills training would be given "adequate" funding. Mr Blair said there had been a "massive investment" in schools and skills were a "very important part" of the challenge facing the UK and it was "important we go further".

  • Conservative Peter Luff asked why Mr Blair would not pick up the Congressional medal he has been awarded when he visits the US. Mr Blair said he had "other things to do with my time in Washington".

  • Mr Blair said the government was investing around 2bn in post offices and it was "unreasonable" to say investment was being cut.


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