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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 13:11 GMT
Point-by-point: Question time
The main points from prime minister's questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday 24 January.

  • Tony Blair began by paying tribute to Private Michael Tench, who died in southern Iraq this week.

  • The first question was about the economic impact of Scotland leaving the union. Mr Blair said separating Scotland and England would be bad for both countries.

  • Tory leader David Cameron added his tributes to Private Michael Tench, before asking for an assurance that all other options would be looked at before focusing on law and order, in particular the Home Office.

  • He asked for an assurance that prisoners would not be given early release because of lack of space in prisons and asked Mr Blair twice whether the chancellor backed the idea put forward by Home Secretary John Reid for the Home Office to be split in two.

  • He said with prisoners on the run, weak borders and overcrowded prisons all the government had come up with was a "half-baked" plan to split the Home Office. Mr Cameron concluded by likening the government to the ship stranded off the Devon coast - "washed up" with people "scrabbling over the wreckage".

  • In his response to Mr Cameron, the prime minister said the government had brought in more prison places, with more to come, had brought in tougher laws and increased police numbers, and, as a whole had brought in measures to cut crime. He said Mr Reid's proposal would be discussed in government before any announcement would be made.

  • Mr Blair said Mr Cameron and the Conservatives who "used to be the party of law and order" now voted against tough measures and extra investment in law and order measures.

  • Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell focused on the situation in Iraq, and especially Mr Blair's failure to take part in the debate on Iraq which is due to take place after PMQs.

  • He said: "What could be more important than that the Prime Minister should be here to debate the issue of Iraq at a time when British forces are at risk every day in respect of their lives. Isn't that the kind of leadership we are entitled to?"

  • Mr Blair said it would "disastrous" to set an arbitrary timetable for withdrawing UK troops from Iraq, and said Sir Menzies' announcement that the Lib Dems want British troops out by the end of October was "deeply irresponsible". He also pointed out that they were debating Iraq at PMQs so there was no question of him being unwilling to debate the issue.

  • SDLP leader Mark Durkan asked the prime minister to comment on the recent Police Ombudsman's report into collusion between police and loyalists behind more than a dozen murders in the 1990s in north Belfast. He named three former assistant chief constables who refused to co-operate with the RUC Special Branch investigation.

  • Mr Blair said he deeply regretted any collusion that had taken place, and said changes made years ago meant it could not happen again.


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