Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 14:40 UK

The full story: PM's questions


Watch the last PMQs session before MPs take their summer break


"We've shot your fox," barked a Labour MP at the Tory benches opposite.

It came as there was yet another sign of how closely politics and petrol go together these days.

The announcement from the government that it will again delay the 2p rise in fuel duty was a bit of news it was eager to sell.

So Labour's Richard Burden had the unlucky job of asking the kind of planted question that makes the whole House groan.

All he wanted to do was tee up Gordon Brown's pre-planned answer but the jeers grew, and so did the Speaker's impatience.

The question petered out but gave the PM enough of a green light to plug the government's new position.

David Cameron was withering, as he was throughout the encounter.

This was the last PMQs before the summer recess and the Tory leader decided to give an end-of-term report for a pupil he didn't rate.

Mr Cameron asked Mr Brown who came up with the idea of knife crime culprits being taken to hospital to meet stab victims. "Who thought up this bright idea?" he demanded.

The prime minister had no intention of telling him, refusing to get bogged down in what the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith had meant to say during a Sunday morning TV interview.

David Cameron rattled through a list of subjects on which he thought the government had failed, including vehicle excise duty and MPs' expenses.

Labour MPs might wonder how they ended up being harangued on the issue of expenses.

A furore that began with conservative MP Derek Conway has ended up with the Tories trying to paint Labour as the block to reform.

A couple of weeks ago many Labour MPs voted to keep the expenses system as it is - John Lewis list and all - and this has become a viciously partisan issue. It returns to the Commons later.

The two party leaders had two last lunges at each other. David Cameron called the prime minister spineless while the PM said the Conservatives had no solutions and no substance.

There was no light relief from Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who prophesised that Britian was walking towards a winter of economic misery.

Happy holidays!



Nick Robinson, Iain Duncan Smith and Dawn Butler give their views


1330: That is that for the summer. Thank you for following our PMQs coverage over the last few months. We look forward to you joining us again in October. Before that, there will be full coverage on the BBC News website of the party conference season and all the other comings and goings at Westminster. Have a lovely break.

1322: The atmosphere on BBC Radio 4's World at One is a little more animated than that in the Commons. Unlike Mr Brown, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne is having a Mamma Mia-style holiday in Greece, where his daughter is getting married. Shadow home secretary William Hague will spend some time in his native Yorkshire, before also venturing abroad. For Labour, Education Minister Kevin Brennan is aiming to spend as much time as possible in Wales.

1259: My colleague Ben Wright has delivered his verdict on this week's PMQs - it can be seen by clicking on the appropriate tab at the top of this page.

1253: Outside the Palace of Westminster, Bee Gee Robin Gibb is stating his case for more recognition of the RAF bomber pilots who took part in the Second World War, in the form of a permanent memorial. He tells The Daily Politics says he is not trying to "glorify" war. Mr Duncan Smith agrees there is a "real injustice". This looks like a subject which could be raised at PMQs in the next session.

1246: MPs are debating their own expenses again, with a series of votes expected later.

1239: Debating Mr Cameron's criticism that Mr Brown is "useless", Mr Duncan Smith says PMQs is a "rough old business".

1236: Iain Duncan Smith says the government looks like it is "not in charge".

1236: Nick Robinson says PMQs was "dull" because the mood has changed in Westminster as "no one thinks" Mr Brown is "about to go".

1235: Labour's Dawn Butler tells The Daily Politics there are "rumours" of a summer government reshuffle. Nick Robinson says it is more likely to happen in the autumn.

1232: It's over for the summer. The Daily Politics' Andrew Neil says it was "one of the duller" sessions of the last parliamentary year.

1230: Mr Brown, returning to the issue of anti-social families, says the whole point of intervening is that parents sign a contract and get "24-hour help". He adds that crime management needs tougher punishments and that every child will be "expected to behave properly".

1228: Mr Brown says the rising amount of people giving up smoking can be "directly attributed" to bans on lighting up in public places.

1227: Lib Dem environment spokesman says it is a "disgrace" that some airlines are running flights with no passengers to keep their slots. Mr Brown says he will look into the issue.

1226: Mr Brown, talking about sentences for causing death by dangerous driving, said the government would go ahead with plans to increase punishments.

1224: Lib Dem Jo Swinson mentions the PM's "bucket and spade" holiday in Suffolk and asks what can be done to help cure skin cancer. Mr Brown says it is essential people can be seen quickly and ministers are working to beat skin cancer "in the long run".

1223: Former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke says the PM has "made a mess" of the public finances. The atmosphere, which was a bit flat, has picked up. Mr Brown defends his record.

1223: Mr Brown says the government is investing in flood defences.

1221:Asked whether the price of petrol is "too high or too low", Mr Brown says it is "too high" and that he is working to get the price down and reduce dependence on oil.

1219: Tory Mark Lancaster asks about violent assault using broken glass and urges the PM to support a campaign to increase the use of plastic glasses in pubs and clubs. Mr Brown agrees to look at the idea.

1217:Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llwyd asks why his party's membership is rising. Mr Brown says increased funding to Wales is due to a Labour government in Westminster.

1216: Labour's John Mann asks about drug treatment programmes. Mr Brown says the government has funded a "number of initiatives".

1213: Mr Brown says demand for oil exceeds supply, so the UK must lower its dependence on it as an energy source.

1212: Mr Clegg accuses Mr Brown of "tinkering" and asks him to "come up with real answers" during his summer break. Mr Brown says he is doing the necessary things for "difficult times".

1211: Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says a "winter of discontent is just around the corner". Mr Brown responds that more jobs are being created.

1210: Labour's John McDonnell, who fought Mr Brown for the party leadership, asks him to "reassess" the consequences of a third runway at Heathrow. The PM says it is a "big, strategic decision" for the country and it must go ahead.

1208: Amid rowdy scenes, Mr Cameron says Mr Brown should have a PM who "can provide leadership and tell the truth". Mr Brown says Mr Cameron "ran away" on issues like nuclear energy and terrorism.

1207: The Tory leader moves on to MPs' expenses, asking why the PM was not at the vote on the issue last week. Mr Brown says there must be the "maximum transparency" and the end of the "so-called John Lewis list".

1206: Mr Cameron asks whether recent policy announcements had anything to do with the forthcoming Glasgow East by-election. Mr Cameron calls the prime minister "useless", to loud cries from the Tory backbenches.

1205: Asked about vehicle duties, Mr Brown says the government's policy is correct. Mr Cameron says it is "not a green tax" but a "stealth tax".

1204: Mr Cameron repeats his question about "who thought up this bright idea". Mr Brown responds again that problem families are being targeted.

1202: Mr Cameron jokes about "planted" questions then asks who came up with the "bright idea" of asking knife carriers to visit stabbing victims hospital accident and emergency wards. Mr Brown talks about government plans to curb anti-social behaviour by families.

1202: A friendly question about rising household bills by a Labour backbencher is cut short by the Speaker. Mr Brown says the government will "continue to help hard-pressed families" and goes on to list various policies.

1200: Here we go. The last PMQs for three months.

1159: Mr Duncan Smith says if he was still Tory leader he would go on knife crime, as it is a "big issue" that needs discussion.

1158: Mr Brown has arrived in the chamber.

1157: BBC political editor Nick Robinson thinks MPs' expenses - which will be voted on again by MPs later - will come up at PMQs.

1155: The atmosphere in the Commons is getting more lively. Can Gordon Brown sign off with a good performance?

1152: BBC Two's The Daily Politics is debating the public sector strikes. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith will be giving his opinions on today's PMQs later.

1150: The chamber is looking quite busy now, with international development questions taking place.

1141: What will the mood be like today? My guess is that Conservative leader David Cameron will want to give his backbenchers a bit of Punch & Judy before the recess gets under way. Or could Mr Cameron go on MPs' expenses, the state of the economy, fuel duty or the walkout by council staff?

1130 BST: Good morning and welcome to what will be the last prime minister's questions session before the long, long summer break (the next PMQs will be in October). I'll be keeping this page updated with all the key points during the half-hour Commons sessions from noon. I'll also be adding in the pick of the BBC pundits' views before, during and after the clash. You can also take part by sending me your thoughts direct by text or email, or by taking part in our live Have Your Say debate. Political correspondent Ben Wright will add his instant verdict on PMQs later. You can follow all the action on your mobile phone via the BBC's mobile website or keep across the key moments via our Twitter site.


Maybe the Speaker should spend the summer recess remembering how to do his job. It would make a pleasant change seeing the Speaker interject and request that Brown answers the questions asked.
Mark, Bracknell

Isn't the Prime Minister's announcement that he won't be putting up fuel tax a bit like threatening to poke us in the eye and then expecting us to be grateful when you say you won't?
Andrew Carter, London

Mr Brown, could you explain to the House the point of prime minister's questions?
Na Breithne, London

Questions 6 Answers 0.
Keith Wiseman, Bury, Lancashire

Gas/electric taxed at 5% VAT. This tax, in the UK, is unfair as we are a colder climate despite global warming.
Harry, W1


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