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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 12:39 GMT
Point-by-point: Question time
The main points from prime minister's questions on Wednesday, 20 February, from 1200 GMT:

  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent his condolences to the family of Corporal Damian Lawrence who was killed in Afghanistan.

  • Answering a question from Labour MP Ann Begg, Mr Brown said all of the money lent to Northern Rock would be paid back. He said the government would only return the bank to private ownership when it could get the "best deal" for taxpayers.

  • Conservative leader David Cameron sent his condolences to the family of Corporal Lawrence and wished Mr Brown a happy 57th birthday.

  • He used his first set of questions to ask Mr Brown about a DNA data disc which was ignored for a year - leaving 15 serious crime suspects at large in the UK. Mr Cameron said information about serious crimes "sat on a desk in Whitehall while nothing was done". He asked why the government was so incompetent when it came to storing and handling data.

  • Mr Brown said "we have tightened up the law on DNA, that's why the Dutch authorities wanted the information from us" - legislation which he said the Conservatives opposed. He challenged Mr Cameron to say whether he now backed the DNA database.

  • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg questioned Mr Brown about the "hiving off" of Northern Rock's best assets into a private company, called Granite.

  • Mr Brown said the government had been "right" to "look at all possible options for Northern Rock". He added: "As far as Granite is concerned I can assure him that that will not affect the sale of Northern Rock to a private buyer".

  • Turning to rising electricity bills, Mr Clegg asked if Mr Brown would take action on the "scandalous profiteering of UK energy companies".

  • Mr Brown said the Lib Dems had opposed the winter fuel allowance for pensioners.

  • Mr Cameron used his second set of questions to focus on Northern Rock, asking why it was to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act.

  • Mr Brown said that was necessary for commercial confidentiality. He said the Tory proposals for Northern Rock amounted to a "fire sale" of assets.

  • Mr Cameron said the PM's answer was "feeble" as other publicly-owned companies were subject to the FoI. He said the PM was refusing to say what the total liability to the taxpayer was, how long the public was going to hold the company and why half of its mortgages would continue to be owned by a private company. He said the government's attitude to freedom of information would "make Fidel Castro proud".

  • Mr Brown accused Mr Cameron of reducing Northern Rock to the level of "student politics" and said the government had acted in the best interests of taxpayers.

  • Conservative MP Julian Brazier called for "urgent reform" of the British Board of Film Classification following the lifting of a ban on films such as SS Experiment Camp.

  • Mr Brown said the government had set up a review of film classification and would meet Mr Brazier and Labour MP Keith Vaz to discuss tighter restrictions.

  • Answering a question from Nigel Dodds (DUP, Belfast North) over allegations surrounding the murder of Paul Quinn, Mr Brown said there was "no evidence IRA people were involved" but it had to investigated properly. He said "no criminals will be allowed to derail the peace process".

  • Lib Dem MP Norman Baker asked why, according to official statistics, car travel has become cheaper as bus and train travel have increased in price.

  • Mr Brown said the government had invested more in public transport and given free bus travel to pensioners.

  • Answering a question from Labour MP Louise Ellman, who asked about an increase in anti-Semitic crime, Mr Brown pledged more action against hate crime, which he said was becoming a particular problem on university campuses.

  • Philip Hollobone (Conservative, Kettering) asked about the case of a child in his constituency who he said died due to the neglect of health and social services officials. Mr Brown said he would investigate the case and write to the MP.


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