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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 13:07 GMT
Point-by-point: Question time
The main points from prime minister's questions on Wednesday, 9 January, from 1200 GMT:

  • Responding to a question from Dai Havard (Labour, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney), Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain was well-placed to get through economic global economic uncertainty because of low interest rates and high levels of employment.

  • Conservative leader David Cameron began by welcoming new Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who is facing his first question time, saying he was glad the Conservatives were no longer the party with a habit of replacing their leader so regularly.

  • Mr Cameron asked if it was still government policy that ID cards would be compulsory for all. He read out a quote from Chancellor Alistair Darling, who said: "I do not want my whole life to be reduced to a magnetic strip on a plastic card."

    The Tory leader added: "Compared with being Chancellor in his government being a magnetic strip on a plastic card is probably a welcome relief."

  • If it was the policy of the government to press for compulsion, why did the PM say in an interview with The Observer that they would not be compulsory for existing British citizens, Mr Cameron asked the prime minister.

  • Mr Brown said he had made those comments because there had to be a vote in Parliament before they became compulsory. He asked if Mr Cameron supported identity cards for foreign nationals, which are being introduced this year.

  • Mr Cameron said he was against compulsory ID cards and asked why Mr Brown could not give a straight answer to the question.

  • "It is the government's policy to move ahead with this," said Mr Brown, depending on a vote in Parliament and how the voluntary scheme works.

  • Turning to Capital Gains Tax rates, and the increase for many small businesses, Mr Cameron asked if Mr Brown was about to do a U-turn.

  • Mr Brown replied: "I see his incursion into identity cards did not last long". He asked again if Mr Cameron supported ID cards for foreign nationals.

  • "I suggest the whole of the country supports ID cards for foreign nationals," said the prime minister. If Mr Cameron could not answer that question, he was "not fit" to ask questions on other issues.

  • Mr Brown added that on Capital Gains Tax, Labour had cut its levels from 40% under the Tories. He said the Chancellor was examining the issue and "would report back to the House in due course".

  • Mr Cameron asked if Mr Brown was going to stop "dithering" and confirm another term for Mervyn King as governor of the Bank of England.

  • He taunted the prime minister over his past, saying he had supported the exchange rate mechanism when he was shadow chancellor and was once a member of CND.

  • He then listed a series of issues and difficulties facing Mr Brown and told the prime minister: "You can talk about long termism all you like. Everyone knows it's just a smokescreen for the short-term mess that you've made. Isn't that why your relaunch is utterly doomed to fail?"

  • Mr Brown replied by saying "all these lines rehearsed in front of the mirror... and they mean absolutely nothing". He then compared Labour's record on the economy with Mr Cameron's time as adviser at the time of Black Wednesday.

  • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg rose to cheers and asked if a "single letter from the Chancellor to the energy regulator" was "an adequate response" to escalating fuel bills faced by "four million families".

  • Mr Brown welcomed Mr Clegg to his new job as "leader of the Liberal Party". He said he had assured Mr Clegg in private conversations that there was always an "open door" for him to discuss "major issues" where they might have "common ground". He said fuel prices were rising because of a global increase in coal, oil and gas prices and "we will do everything in our power to prevent fuel poverty in this country".

  • Mr Clegg replied: ''With 25,000 people predicted to die this winter alone from the cold, I think we need a more specific commitment from the prime minister. Will he agree today to take action to stop the energy companies from hitting the poorest families with higher bills on pre-paid meters, so we can end the scandal of the poorest families paying the most for their energy needs?''

  • Mr Brown replied: "We have asked the fuel companies to look at prepaid energy meters." He said he hoped Mr Clegg would support the government in asking the energy companies for more help for the poor.

  • Julian Brazier (Conservative Canterbury) asked why Britain had offered places to five people from Guantanamo Bay, including two who are wanted for serious offences in Spain, even though none of them are British citizens.

  • Mr Brown said he would like Guantanamo Bay to be closed as soon as possible but "where people are moved to our country we will deal with them if there are offences for which they are to be prosecuted".

  • Labour MP Hugh Bayley asked for more information to be published on the performance of doctors and hospitals. Mr Brown said Lord Darzai was looking at ways of increasing the flow of information.

  • Bob Spink (Conservative, Castle Point) asked if it was right that Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain had endorsed a "sub-prime" lender which had donated 5,000 to his failed Labour deputy leadership campaign. Mr Hain was quoted on the company's website.

  • Mr Brown said Mr Hain, who is also Secretary of State for Wales, had been visiting a company in Wales and had been praising jobs it had created.

  • Crispin Blunt (Conservative, Reigate) asked if Mr Brown would say to "Sorry, Darling" to the man who took over from his as Chancellor.

  • Mr Brown said "we are proud of our record as a Labour government" on the economy.

  • John Randall (Conservative, Uxbridge) asked about the forced removal of people from their homes around Heathrow airport.

  • Mr Brown said a consultation was taking place but a third runway was in the interests of the country.

  • Former health secretary, Patricia Hewitt (Labour, Leicester West), paid tribute a constituent, Bradley Whitfield, who was knifed to death on New Year's Day, and called for more action on crime.

  • Mr Brown sent his condolences to Mr Whitfield's family and said the home secretary would soon be announcing new measures on gang violence.


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