The Full Story: PM's questions

The full PM's questions session (Gordon Brown's save the world quote is three minutes in)

David Thompson
It was only a slip of the tongue... The problem is, a lot of people suspect Gordon Brown might actually believe it.

When the prime minister said "we not only saved the world", when, I think, he meant to say, "we not only saved the banks", he gave David Cameron a priceless opportunity to accuse him of being more concerned with grandstanding on the global stage than dealing with the fears of small businesses and homeowners caught between a Northern Rock and a hard place.

Today's PMQs was a chance for both main parties to showcase their determination to beat the downturn. As such, there was a lot of sound and fury, signifying, well, nothing much you haven't heard already. David Cameron tried to turn Labour's taunt that the Conservatives are the "do-nothing" party on its head by accusing the government of doing nothing to tackle the real financial concerns of business and the public.

The prime minister said the Tories were a throwback to the 1980s - and would do nothing to protect ordinary people from the ravages of likely recession. Nick Clegg for the LibDems went for the government on tax credits, saying the system for administering them was confused, bureaucratic and cruel. A bit like, some might say, life in Westminster.

House of Commons
Conservative MPs punch the air after Gordon Brown's save the world comment


1335: That's it for this week. Whether the PM's slip of the tongue about saving the world will prove an internet hit remains to be seen, but it certainly gave many at Westminster a laugh. Please join us again next Wednesday for the last PMQs of 2008.

1332: Asked about the Speaker, Ms Hewitt says there is no doubt at all that there is "widespread concern" about him - but returns to attacking the Conservatives' position on what action should be taken to deal with the economy.

1332: Grant Shapps says the Tories "absolutely" want a general election - echoing comments in a speech by his party leader yesterday. He says people will have to pay for the decisions made by the government in the future.

1331: Patricia Hewitt tells World at One Mr Cameron was "completely against" the government borrowing and spending which was the only way to help people through the recession. Susan Kramer says the Lib Dems are "ahead of the game" both in identifying the crisis and coming up with solutions. She reiterates the point that small businesses still cannot get loans.

1329: Lib Dem Susan Kramer says everyone roared with laughter because "you can practically see him getting into the Superman outfit" before entering the Commons. She says the important thing was the economy and criticises the Conservatives for backing "inaction". For the Tories Grant Shapps says the Conservatives have pledged action and the government has followed their measures

1326: Referring to Mr Brown's "saving the world" slip of the tongue on the BBC's World at One, former health secretary Patricia Hewitt says it "excites people in Westminster" for a couple of hours and Mr Brown had been smiling about it himself. She says the British public rather like their PMs to be doing well on the world stage and Mr Brown has been a "commanding figure".

1249: Nick Robinson ponders a possible policy announcement on lap dancing clubs during PMQs. He said the public in areas where shops and businesses were closing and the clubs were moving in would get some form of veto, or at least a say in new legislation.

1242: Minister Caroline Flint says Mr Brown is "what he is", many people did not like clever patter by politicians and were more interested in who was taking the right decisions to help them.

1240: For the government Caroline Flint says these are difficult times that will get tougher. She said the government was aware it could not take the pain away from everyone but wanted to limit the damage to families.

1238: Tory frontbencher Michael Gove says the charge the Tories are a do nothing party will not stick. He says Mr Brown attempts to caricature his opponents by creating "false dividing lines". He says voters are more intelligent than to fall for a "blunt and bogus" set of dividing lines.

Nick Robinson
1237: Back in the Daily Politics studio BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the clip about "we not only saved the world" would be played again and again and perhaps Mr Brown should have made a joke about it. For his enemies it was a gift, he adds and will probably be all over the internet.

1236: Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell is now making a statement to MPs about his plans for welfare reform. Your can watch the statement live via the video stream at the top of this page. You can read about it here.

1232: A DUP MP also asks about credit to small firms and asks what more can be done. Mr Brown says HSBC and other banks had announced schemes in the last few days - he says no small businesses should be put in a position where an overdraft or capital is withdrawn if they are a viable business. And the session ends.

1231: Tory MP Graham Stuart asks a question about new figures suggesting deaths from child abuse are three times as high as had been thought and asks if there is something "profoundly wrong with out society". Mr Brown says they would ensure child protection arrangements were effective, social workers were better trained and inspections were carried out annually. Further action would be taken once Lord Laming's review reported back, he said.

1230: Labour MP Michael Connarty asks about a proposal he feels would effectively turn credit unions into banks. Mr Brown says they will respond to consultations but there was a 80m growth fund to expand the capacity of credit unions and the government wanted to give them all the support they need.

e-mail sent in by reader
1229 Have Your Say "He says GP surgeries are open evenings and weekends. They are not. Ours is not even available every day of the week."
Cheesed off, UK

1229: Tory MP Andrew Robathan asks a question about small businesses not getting loans and urges him to adopt Tory proposals for a small business loan guarantee scheme - Mr Brown says there is already a scheme and lists other measures to help small businesses like deferring VAT payments.

1226: Lib Dem MP Phil Willis asks a question about a TV programme showing the death of a terminally ill constituent - Mr Brown says assisted dying was a "matter of conscience" but says there should never be a case where a sick or elderly person should feel under pressure to agree to an assisted death. On the programme itself he says such issues should be dealt with sensitively and it would be a matter for the TV watchdogs when the programme was shown.

1226: Labour MP Michael Foster says "compassion and support" are important in any welfare reform. Mr Brown says reforms will let disabled people make their own decisions about how best services can meet their needs. "That is showing compassion as well as moving forward reform".

1224: Tory MP David Amess asks about a target to eliminate fuel poverty and says it is failing. He says the PM should "save lives this winter" and meet the targets. Mr Brown says the winter fuel allowance for pensioners had been raised, while there had been no such allowance under the Tories.

1224: In response to another question Mr Brown says there will be a new prompt payment code which he hopes as many firms as possible will sign up to.

1222: Labour MP Martin Linton asks a question about GP surgeries. Mr Brown says more surgeries are open at weekends and evenings because the government had provided the money.

1221: Mr Brown shrugs off Mr Clegg's calls for fixed payments in such cases and says 6m families receive and benefit from tax credits and says they would continue to take children out of poverty.

Nick Clegg
1219: Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says he was recently visited by a single mother at his Sheffield constituency - but the Speaker has to call for order after laughter from Labour MPs. Mr Clegg says she was being chased for tax credits and was "terrified". He asks if this is the kind of help people need during a recession. Mr Brown says he will look at details of the case but tax credits had taken people out of poverty. Mr Clegg says the PM thinks he is "Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders" but is dragging low income families to court.

1218: Labour MP Alan Simpson says it is nice to have a PM who wants to save the world while the Tories can barely "save face".

1217: Mr Brown says the Tory leader has said he would "do nothing" to help people and says they will "say anything to disguise the fact they will do nothing" and says they are "not fit for government" as their clash comes to an end.

1217: Mr Cameron says Labour's scheme will affect few businesses. He says the PM has brought the country "to the brink of bankruptcy", to roars of approval from Tory MPs.

1216: Mr Cameron quotes the Guardian. After pointing out they get "government leaks without anyone being arrested" he says the paper suggests the Treasury may be adapting Tory plans for a national loan guarantee scheme. The PM says they have their own scheme, on top of various other schemes. "We are going to do more in the next few days because we want to do everything we can," says the PM. But he says that can only be done with a fiscal stimulus.

1214: The prime minister accuses the chairman of the public accounts committee - Edward Leigh - of "uncaring Conservatism" in comments about the VAT cut.

David Cameron
1214: "While he thinks he is saving the world we are talking about businesses in the real world," replies Mr Cameron. He says time and money is being wasted on a "pointless VAT cut" rather than fixing problems with lending to businesses.

1213: Mr Brown says taxpayers' money is being used rightly to help small businesses while the Tories would "do nothing" and let the recession take its course.

1212: Mr Cameron continues to focus on the Conservative's plans for a wider loan guarantee scheme. He says only 0.2% of businesses are covered by the current scheme. He quotes the Council of Mortgage Lenders as saying that government policy is "conflicting and incoherent". Mr Brown says the CML supports their repossessions policy, which the Tories don't. "I'm sorry to have to teach him what the economy is about," says Mr Brown.

1211: Mr Brown says measures taken already would not have been possible if the Tories' advice had been followed. "We are taking the measures that are necessary" says Mr Brown. He says the UK needs a "fiscal investment" - he says the Tories are "clinging to the failed policies of the 1980s".

1210: Mr Cameron enjoyed that Brown slip of the tongue. He says it is finally on the record - the PM is so busy saving the world he has forgotten about businesses and the country. He says the recapitalisation scheme is not working and says no other country has copied the details of Mr Brown's plan.

1208: Mr Brown waits until the laughter dies down and says not one depositor has lost any money in Britain. He says interest rates have come down and they are working to remove other "barriers" to lending with banks. He says the government has "led the world" in saving the banks.

David Cameron
1205: David Cameron starts by sending his condolences to the soldier's family. He asks how the government is going to get the banks to lend to businesses. He says Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has said recapitalisation should ensure the flow of lending returns to normal rates. Mr Cameron said on this basis the PM's plan has failed. In his reply Mr Brown says he has saved the banks, then raises laughter by accidentally saying he has "saved the world".

1204: Labour MP Alison Seabeck says businesses have welcomed government initiatives on the economy and asks Mr Brown for reassurances it will do everything it can to help them and homeowners. Mr Brown assures her they will and say Labour is leading the way on the economy, welfare reform and help for small businesses.

1203: The prime minister starts by paying tribute to a British soldier killed in Iraq

1202: BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells the Daily Politics he expects David Cameron will either ask questions about welfare reform and suggest they will go through with Tory support or try to highlight the divide between the two parties on the economy.

Gordon Brown
1201: And we're off. Gordon Brown begins the session immediately after Scottish secretary Jim Murphy finishes the preceeding session by answering an SNP attack on plans for a British football team at the 2012 Olympics

1158: Anne McGuire is speaking as Scotland questions approach their end in the Commons. The chamber is filling up. John Hutton is chatting with Alan Johnson. Alistair Darling is sitting in position ready to flank Brown when the session gets under way.

1155: On housing, Europe minister Caroline Flint - a former housing minister - says banks should sign up to attempts to restrict repossessions. She says ministers will look at Northern Rock's high repossession rate and try to resolve it. Repossession should be a last resort, she says on Daily Politics.

1152: Tory frontbencher Michael Gove tells the BBC's Daily Politics the Conservatives are likely to support the government's welfare reforms as they are very similar to their own plans. Labour backbencher Frank Field, a former welfare reform minister, says they should push to make the reform more radical and welfare should be "abolished as we know it".

1150: What subjects are likely to be raised today? The economy - and David Cameron's attack on Gordon Brown's planned "borrowing binge" - has to be one of the favourites. There may also be a mention of the benefit reforms which are set to be spelled out in detail in a statement to MPs immediately after PM's questions finishes.

1141: Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. The half hour session begins at noon. You can watch live on this page, and read the key points as they happen. We'll be taking in the views of BBC experts and guests from television and radio programmes. And you can have your say too via our live Have Your Say debate


The Daily Politics' analysis of Prime Minister's Questions. Andrew Neil and Anita Anand talk to Nick Robinson, Caroline Flint and Michael Gove.


e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "More lies, more fudged statistics, more tub-thumping of the clunking fist and a continued refusal to answer a single question, instead seeking to constantly make a blunt and bullying party political statement. Save the world, indeed!"
Nick Thomson

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "There you are. It just shows what an egoist Brown really is. He does believe he saved the world. He just said so in Parliament."
Susan Croft

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say" Can the UK's power supplies stand a bad winter?"
Level Crossin, Brentwood, UK

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "When politicians discuss unemployment why do they ignore the fact there are only 0.5 million vacancies and 1.8 million unemployed? Do these figures not make a mockery of unemployment policies when in fact for two thirds of the unemployed a job does not exist?"
Sablonneux, Edinburgh

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "Will the PM admit that his massive borrowing and VAT cut have failed to stimulate the economy and things are really getting worse?"
Dave Derrick, Somerset, United Kingdom

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "I am in business, I am struggling, David Cameron has a valid point over help for small businesses why does Gordon think he has all the answers"
Farmer Geddon, Shropshire, United Kingdom

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "Does the prime minister not understand that clobbering the unemployed is not the answer? The real problem is his own policy of 'Waste Now, Tax Later'. By strangling businesses that provide the jobs, he removes the hope of secure employment for the future. Instead of encouraging growth through sound economic management, Brown's out-of-control borrowing will act as a weed killer on the green shoots of recovery."


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

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