The full story: PM's questions

Prime minister's questions

After the warm camaraderie of his meeting with President Sarkozy in Paris, it was back to the cold combative arena of PMQs.

There were loud cheers of support from the Tory benches as the Conservative leader went straight on the attack. David Cameron is no doubt fed up with the prime minister being lauded around the globe as something of an economic saviour.

He challenged Gordon Brown over whether he still believed he had ended boom and bust. What about his precious fiscal rules? Would the prime minister now admit they were dead?.

And was it really right for the government to spend its way out of a recession? The Tory leader, who has been somewhat marginalised during this crisis, is desperate to pin the blame for the current downturn on what he sees as the government's failed policies.

Trading insults across the despatch box Gordon Brown patronised Mr Cameron telling him "the opposition should listen and maybe they will learn something".

Rather cheekily he questioned what David Cameron had actually been discussing with his shadow chancellor over the last few weeks. A reference to George Osborne's discomfort over his dealings with Russian Billionaire Oleg Deripaska. The Tory leader hit back insisting that Gordon Brown "hasn't got a plan he just got a giant overdraft".

The prime minister, referring to the last recession under the Tories in the early 1990s said "they broke the roof, we fixed it." Mr Brown was also forced to defend his spending strategy for guiding Britain through the turmoil.

He came under fire from the Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg who accused Gordon Brown of being unable to distinguish between "good public spending and bad public spending".

The whole half hour was dominated by the economy and MPs on all sides questioned the Prime Minister about the effects on the real economy - jobs, houses, repossessions and savings. Political Punch and Judy may well have resurfaced at PMQs, but the issues being hit back and forth are deadly serious.


The Daily Politics' analysis of Prime Minister's Questions. Andrew Neil and Anita Anand talk to The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh, Hazel Blears and David Davis.


1257 Right, that's it for this week. Thanks for all your comments - and apologies for not being able to use more of them. There've been a couple of glitches. We'll be back with live coverage of the weekly Commons clash next Wednesday. Watch out for a live page extravaganza for the US elections next week.

1250 John McFall, treasury committee chairman, tells the BBC News Channel that he wants low paid people to be kept out of the tax system - and says the government should still be able to provide a "fiscal stimulus" (ie increase spending)

1242 Back to Ross and Brand. Andrew Neil reads out Director General Mark Thompson's statement. Hazel Blears welcomes it but adds: "About time too". David Davis says it was "four days late". Trevor Kavanagh agrees.

1239 Hazel Blears explains on Daily Politics why you cannot spend your way out of a recession. Andrew Neil says she has done a better job of explaining it than Mr Brown...

1237 People may complain about Gordon Brown not answering questions at PMQs but, to "be fair to him", says The Sun's Trevor Kavanagh on Daily Politics, he never has answered questions in the Commons.

1236 That's the lot. Debt and the economy dominated the session and, contrary to expectations, there was no mention of Jonathan Ross or Russell Brand. The last question came from Independent Wyre Forest MP Richard Taylor asking about post office closures. He asks why Postwatch has been closed. Mr Brown says he will look into it.

1229 It's official - "British bacon is best". Mr Brown assures a Labour MP that standards will be protected.

1229 The third runway at Heathrow now. Other major cities around the world have more runways, says Mr Brown, but the government is still assessing the environmental impact.

1228 Still no mention of Ross and Brand. Will an MP raise it before the session ends?

1227 Colin Challen, Labour's backbench climate change guru, asks if it would be possible to meet Mr Brown with a delegation of British scientists to push for financial backing for the Copernicus satellite. Mr Brown agrees, but adds that the UK's contribution to the programme has yet to decided.

1225 If Mr Brown has to go to the IMF, as Labour did in 1976, for an emergency loan will he resign, asks a Tory MP. "What about 1992?", replies Mr Brown. Is that a sort of no then?

1224 Mr Brown responds to a call for a windfall tax on the energy companies with a swipe at George Osborne saying the shadow chancellor cannot call for a cut in petrol prices, when his fuel tax plans would have led to an increase. He says that is why people can not trust the Tories' judgement.

1219 Tory MP Phillip Hollobone crticises what he says is the Black Police Association's active discouraging of ethnic minorities from joining the Metropolitan Police. Mr Brown says he will look into the claims.

1218 Tory grandee Sir George Young attempts to raise the tone by reminding Mr Brown of his constitutional reform plans - and asks why Parliament will have just 124 sitting days in the next session. If MPs can get its business done in that amount of time then that's fine, repliess Mr Brown.

1215 Mr Brown says the government is putting more money into the economy through the winter fuel allowance and compensation for axing the 10p tax band. He says Lib Dem tax cut proposals are the wrong policy for the times.

Nick Clegg
1215 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg focuses on government waste - calling on the government to scrap costly IT projects and other "grandiose plans" to help families through the downturn.

boxing glove
1213 The two men argue about whether you can spend your way out of a recession. Mr Cameron accuses the PM of "spinning a line on a spending splurge" to make it look like he has got a plan - "he hasn't got a plan he is got an overdraft". Mr Brown takes the taunts in his stride and insists the government is right to take the action it has on borrowing. He attacks the Tories for having no response to the downturn - "they are not prepared for government, they are not even prepared for opposition".

1212 It's warming up in the chamber. MPs on the Conservative benches seem to be particularly enjoying it.

1211 Mr Brown tries to seize the moral high ground by reminding Mr Cameron of his pledge to end "punch and judy politics". He appeals for a return to the Tory leaders' non-partisan approach to the economy. Mr Cameron is having none of it - he taunts Mr Brown by reminding him of his fiscal rules, saying he has broken them all.

David Cameron
1204 David Cameron goes in on the downturn, asking Mr Brown to admit that he did not abolish boom and bust. Mr Brown lists his achievements and attacks the Tories' response to the credit crunch.

Gordon Brown
1201 We're off. A planted question about help for small business from Labour MP Adrian Bailey. Mr Brown offers reassurances to entrepreneurs that he is pushing the banks to keep credit lines open. No mention of Brand and Ross yet, then.

1200 The Commons is packed for the closing moments of Scotland Questions - as MPs prepare for PMQs.

1158 Student grants are to be cut after the government discovers a 200m overspend, it has just been revealed. Watch for that at PMQs.

1155 Hazel Blears laments the "strange" behaviour of the markets on the Daily Politics and says she is not prepared to predict the depth a recession.

1154 Vince Cable - the Lib Dems' Mr Credit Crunch - calls for a "dramatic" cut in interest rates, even to as low as zero to stave off recession. There are risks, he says, but he adds: "We are in a very serious situation and risks have to be taken." Watch this space, then...

1144 News has just broken that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand have been suspended by the BBC pending the outcome of an investigation into their conduct. Pressed for her reaction on Daily Politics, Hazel Blears calls the pair "puerile" and "cruel" but says it is a matter for the BBC what their punishment should be. Ex-shadow home secretary David Davis wonders whether they have been suspended on full pay (Presenter Andrew Neil says Mr Ross is on 16,000 a day). If so there should be a quick decision on their future, says Mr Davis.

1137 Welcome to our weekly live coverage of prime ministers' questions. The session gets underway at noon in the Commons. I will be updating this page in the build-up, and reporting reaction afterwards. You will be able to watch all the action live from noon for half an hour. The financial headlines continue to be dominated by the downturn, with Chancellor Alistair Darling set to offer reassurances that the government will not borrow irresponsibly. But Gordon Brown could also face questions about Lord Mandelson's relations with a Russian oligarch, which continues to fascinate Westminster - and the BBC could come under the spotlight as well over its handling of the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand affair. It could be an interesting session.


1223: Have Your Say "Will getting the country into more debt be the answer to the country's problems?" Philip Bowers, Liverpool

1220: Have Your Say "Why has corporation tax for small businesses effectively doubled due to the loss of marginal relief?" Chantel, Wales

1217: Have Your Say "With recent loans to several banks, why were there no provisos limiting the power of the banks to award bonuses to all members of staff?" Elaine, Letchworth Garden City, UK

1216: Have Your Say "Immigration - should there be a cap?" John Bull, London, UK

1157: Have Your Say "Questions should revolve around the economy, assisted suicide legislation and the Iraq war" Amy, UK

1151: Have Your Say "How on earth can you ask the petrol companies to reduce their prices, when the huge majority of a litre of fuel is government tax?" Steve, UK

1150: Have Your Say "With our troops out in Iraq and Afghanistan, surely this should be the number one priority followed by the state of the economy" Peter, Southend


Gordon Brown The Full Story
All the action with key points, analysis and reaction from Gordon Brown's weekly grilling

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