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The Full Story: PM's questions


Prime minister's questions

By Brian Wheeler


Well thanks for joining us this week. We'll be back again next week - hopefully with our automatically updating text - when PM's questions will take place against the backdrop of the G20 summit in London.


Gordon Brown, who is taking part in a Wall Street Journal press conference in New York is apparently not missing PMQs one bit. Asked if the weekly session was like a cross between "celebrity death match" and WWE wrestling, he said it was worse than that.

Daily Politics' analysis of Prime Minister's Questions


Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy did not think much of Harriet Harman's performance. She was on a "sticky wicket" with the Mervyn King issue, he tells the Daily Politics, but her tone was "wrong". He says she would have been better adopting a "less hectoring tone, even though she was on the ropes" or even playing the "class war" card.


The session ends with Ms Harman backing local newspapers and radio which she says are "part of the lifeblood of this country". She says the government was working on solutions to the crisis facing the sector, after Labour MP Andrew Gwynne raises the issue of job cuts at Guardian Media Group in Manchester.


Lib Dem Simon Hughes brings up conflict resolution in Sri Lanka. Ms Harman agrees it is important.


Tory MP John Baron claims the government is riding roughshod over local people's objections to the building of giant new Titan prisons. Ms Harman assures him they are not.


Lib Dem MP Andrew Stunell has a stab at trying to embarrass Ms Harman over bankers' pay and pensions, asking when her and the PM's pledge to crack down on them was going to happen. Ms Harman, who is on strident form, says they are on to it, adding that the authorities are on to Sir Fred Goodwin.


Ms Harman - prompted by a soft question from a Labour MP - lays into the Tory inheritance tax policy again, saying they should have taken the way out offered by "shadow shadow chancellor" Ken Clarke, who described it as an "aspiration" before backpedalling, to the apparent great amusement of Mr Clarke himself, who is sitting on the Tory front bench.

David Thompson

1225 From BBC political correspondent David Thompson:

Military metaphors abound from Vince Cable, standing in for Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg. According to him, Mervyn King has sent his tanks into Downing Street and taken the government prisoner in a coup d'etat. A slight exaggeration perhaps, but it demonstrates that the intervention from the Governor Bank of England has been highly politically significant, despite attempts by No10 to play it down.


Tory MP Bill Wiggin calls on Ms Harman to set up a meeting with Lord Mandelson and an automotive factory in his Leominster constituency, which he says cannot get funds from "state-owned" RBS.


Labour's Andrew Dismore is asked to "ad lib" by an exasperated Speaker as his question on services for the elderly in his constituency drags on. Ms Harman gives a standard response on the government's economic record.


Ms Harman calls on the Lib Dems to support government plans to get the public finances back in order without harming the poor. She finishes her response to Vince Cable with a further dig at the Tories' supposedly millionaire-friendly inheritance tax policy.

Vince Cable


It is Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable's turn to press Ms Harman on Mervyn King's comments, with an extended metaphor on Mr King mounting a "very British coup" by sending his tanks up the Mall to seize control of economic policy. Ms Harman bats his question away with a strident defence of the government's record.


Mr Hague raises a smile from Ms Harman as he tells her he knows inheritance is important to the "niece of the Countess of Longford", but reminds her he was asking about the Governor of the Bank of England. He asks for a third time if she agrees with Mr King. Ms Harman hits back with a pre-prepared line on inheritance tax, calling the Tory policy a "millionnaire's manifesto".


Mr Hague now gets his teeth into Bank of England governor Mervyn King's warning about pumping more money into the economy, calling it a "defining moment" in the government's handling of the recession. Ms Harman hits back with a strong attack on the Tories' inheritance tax proposals.

William Hague


Mr Hague changes tack slightly and asks about a scheme to help the unemployed, allowing Ms Harman to set out the dividing lines between the government and the Tories. Mr Hague hammers home Tory claims that the government are "all over the place" on the economy.


William Hague, standing in for Tory leader David Cameron, asks what has happened to the government's long-promised Working Capital Scheme. Ms Harman says it is about to come on stream. There is a moment of mirth as she says it is helping 93 businesses. She corrects herself, saying it is actually 93,000 businesses.

Harriet Harman


A planted question from Labour MP Joan Ryan on efforts to tackle burglaries. Ms Harman lists government action, claiming burglary across London "has fallen by half".


We're off. The session is running a few minutes late, but Harriet Harman is on her feet now, listing Gordon Brown's engagements in New York.

David Thompson

1200 From BBC political correspondent David Thompson:

Expect a helping of Special K at PMQs today - Ken and King. Harriet Harman - standing in for Gordon Brown because of his trip to New York today - may well taunt the Tories over the confusion caused by shadow business secretary Ken Clarke's suggestion - hastily retracted - that his party's plans to increase Inheritance Tax thresholds could be put on the back burner. But William Hague is likely to lead the charge against the government armed with quotes from Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England which he will claim show the Bank believes that any Prime Ministerial plan to pump billions more into the economy would be unaffordable.

1157 Welcome to our coverage of prime minister's questions. With Gordon Brown on his travels, it is time once again for the deputies to show what they are made of. Harriet Harman, William Hague and Vince Cable take centre stage when the session gets underway at noon. We will have plenty of comment and reaction from guests on the variety of BBC outlets.



Daily Politics' analysis of Prime Minister's Questions

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