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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 12:57 GMT
Point-by-point: Question time
The main points from prime minister's questions on Wednesday, 23 January, from 1200 GMT:

  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent his condolences to the family of Corporal Darryl Gardiner, who was killed in Afghanistan.

  • Conservative MP Stephen Crabb asked what had happened to crime in the UK that meant the home secretary Jacqui Smith "needed an armed guard" to buy a kebab. Mr Brown replied that crime was down under Labour.

  • Conservative leader David Cameron concentrated on the proposed rescue of Northern Rock for all six of his permitted questions, calling on Mr Brown to reveal taxpayers' total exposure to the failed bank's debts.

  • He said the Prime Minster did not understand the difference between administration and liquidation and had perpetrated a "con" on taxpayers - accusing Mr Brown of "behaving like a used car salesman who won't tell you the price, won't tell you the mileage, won't tell you the warranty". He said the prime minister had "gone from prudence to Del Boy without touching the ground". Mr Cameron added: "this is a sub-prime deal from a sub prime minister".

  • Mr Brown said the government would be repaid first and the loans were secured against assets. He accused the Tories of opportunism and of "flip flopping" in their position on Northern Rock, from nationalisation to a private sale. He accused them of wanting to put economic stability at risk. He said - in response to a call by Mr Cameron - that the fee being paid to Goldman Sachs for coming up with the deal was being negotiated and would be published "at the right time".

  • Mr Cameron asked if it was a complete error of judgement to get on aeroplane with one of the main bidders Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson, who accompanied the Prime Minster to China last week.

  • Mr Brown said: "It was not bad judgement to take British businessman and women to win orders for British exports in China and India to win orders." He said Britain's record of economic stability was envied around the world and he accused Mr Cameron of having nothing to offer but slogans.

  • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg also focused on the Northern Rock rescue, accusing Mr Brown of wanting to "nationalise the risk but privatise the profits". He said temporary nationalisation was a better option.

  • Mr Brown said the government would share in Northern Rock profits and would protect the taxpayer from losses. He attacked Lib Dem economic policies accusing their sums of not adding up.

  • Mr Clegg said Mr Brown would not nationalise the bank because he was "running scared of the Conservative Party which have no solution of their own". He urged Mr Brown to show leadership and do what he thought was right by nationalising the bank.

  • Mr Brown said nationalisation was an option, but only on the road to a private sale.

  • Conservative Former Chancellor Ken Clarke accused Mr Brown of handing over the economy to his successor as Chancellor "in quite an appalling mess" and accused him of "dithering and incompetence" over Northern Rock.

  • Mr Brown replied that he was speaking "as someone who inherited a very difficult economic situation from him" - prompting cries of outrage from the Conservative benches. He said Labour had maintained economic stability which he said Mr Clarke "would not have done".

  • Mr Brown was accused of breaking the government's covenant with the military and police officers. The prime minister said the Chief of the Defence Staff had said there was no such breach and the government was doing everything in its power to help service personnel. On police pay, Mr Brown said it was necessary to stage it to keep inflation down.

  • Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Winterton asked, as Honorary Vice President of the Royal College of Midwives, about falling numbers of midwifes amid the increasing number of births.

  • Mr Brown said he wanted to do more to help midwives - but he said the figures showed there had been an increase in their number - although more needed to be done. He said Britain remained one of the safest places in the world to have a baby.

  • Lib Dem Steve Webb asked about pension rights for women in their sixties. Mr Brown pledged more effort would be made to ensure they got what they were entitled to.


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