Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 13:30 UK

The Full Story: PM's questions


Prime minister's questions in full

1325 That concludes our coverage of prime minister's questions for this week. Thanks, as always, for your e-mailed comments about the exchanges. Will expenses still be the only story in town next Wednesday? Please join us again then to find out.

1322 Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May says on World at One it is clear that some expenses claims by MPs have been "excessive". Communities minister Sadiq Khan says voters think the expenses system is "sleazy" and that David Cameron is no "rapid action man", despite his PMQs performance. Lib Dem frontbencher David Heath accuses the prime minister of showing no leadership on the issue.

1316 Labour MP David Winnick tells BBC Radio 4's The World at One that future Commons Speakers should not be involved in setting MPs' pay and expenses.

1307 This was a very unusual PMQs. There was very little of the braying and shouting of most Wednesdays. All the parties appeared to be hurting from the Daily Telegraph's expenses revelations.

1300 On Daily Politics, Ken Livingstone calls for more devolution of law and order policy, arguing that the Home Office is too centralised.

PMQs analysis 13 May 2009

1256 On a day when Commons allowances totally dominated PMs questions, Lib Dem MP Andrew George says he is owed an apology from the Daily Telegraph over its story on his expenses, dismissing it as nonsense. He adds that his office is being bombarded with "extremely unpleasant messages".

1249 Labour's Tony Wright, who asked a question earlier, tells the BBC some serious action is needed on expenses. Lib Dem Norman Baker says MPs must simply accept Sir Christopher's recommendations, whatever they are. He adds that Speaker Michael Martin should quit.

1244 Ken Livingstone and Michael Howard agree that Sir Christopher Kelly himself should decide how to reform Commons expenses, rather than MPs voting on his committee's eventual proposals.

Nick Robinson
1241 BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson says Mr Brown's YouTube announcement of his plans to reform expenses infuriated many of his MPs. His attitude to reform, and the need for due parliamentary process, at PMQs, was part of his efforts to repair relationships, he adds.

Michael Howard
1239 Former Tory leader Michael Howard says the Labour government is a "lame duck", which leaves the UK in a "desperate, desperate" situation when dealing with economic and other crises.

1238 Ex-London Mayor Ken Livingston says Mr Brown is not light on his feet at PMQs and is worried about how far he can take his MPs on expenses reforms plans.

Reeta Chakrabarti
1234 From BBC political correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti: David Cameron has sought to turn a crisis to his advantage - and he tried to maximise that today - trying to corner Gordon Brown with his surprise suggestion that MPs' £10,000 communications allowance should be scrapped. It seemed to work - Mr Brown said it was up to the House, and deferred further change to two committees. It all allowed David Cameron to deliver his coup de grace - show some leadership he said. Nick Clegg wanted all MPs to follow his in waiving the right to profit from second home sales. Cue again the prime minister insisting MPs couldn't make long term changes on the hoof. There was an interesting atmosphere - MPs seemed pretty subdued - knowing, whatever they've done, that they're all in this together.

1233 Labour MP Tony Wright, chairman of the Commons public administration committee, says the prime minister should commit to accepting the full findings of Sir Christopher Kelly's report on MPs' expenses later this year. Mr Brown says he hopes to be able to do so when the recommendations are published. And that's the end of this week's session.

1231 Tory Robert Key asks about improvements to the visitor centre at Sonehenge. Mr Brown says the site is being enhanced and that the government is "determined" to help.

1230 Mr Brown says the conflict in Sri Lanka is having a devastating effect and that the government will make efforts to persuade the country's leaders to bring in a ceasefire.

1228 Labour veteran Denis Skinner says there is reason for celebration in that the "sunny uplands" of economic recovery are in view. To laughter, Mr Brown welcomes Mr Skinner back after illness, saying he makes the House a better place.

1228 Labour's Helen Southworth asks what is being done to protect missing children. Mr Brown says he has asked ministers to report on child trafficking.

1226 Mr Brown says ministers are looking very carefully at a report on Equitable Life pensioners.

1225 Lib Dem Roger Williams asks the PM to meet a delegation of young people living in the countryside to discuss their problems. Mr Brown says the government is determined to help with jobs and housing in rural areas.

1222 Mr Clegg urges Mr Brown to follow the Lib Dem front bench's commitment to repay profits made on taxpayer-funded second homes. Mr Brown says capital gains tax payments are the priority and other issues will be dealt with afterwards.

Nick Clegg
1221 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg also asks about expenses. He says the "loophole" of profits made on second homes paid for with public money must be addressed. Mr Brown says any solution will need the confidence of the general public and says it will be one of the issues the Committee on Standards in Public Life will look into during its review of the expenses and allowances rules.

Reeta Chakrabarti
1220 From BBC political correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti: Expenses dominated proceedings. David Cameron continued trying to make the running - with the surprise suggestion about the communications allowance being scrapped. Gordon Brown said it was open to the House to change it - falling into the trap laid for him by the Tory leader. Show some leadership Mr Cameron said. The idea was to contrast Brown the process-follower with Cameron the change-maker.

1217 Mr Cameron, who calls for the £10,000-a-year communications allowance for MPs to be axed, jokes that Mr Brown needs an "independent commission to decide whether he has tea or coffee in the morning" and urges him to "wake up" and show "real leadership". The PM says he is "sorry" that the Tory leader is choosing to "divide" on the expenses issue.

1215 Mr Cameron suggests reducing the number of MPs. Mr Brown says he is trying to build a consensus on change, which is the "way forward".

1209 The atmosphere is unsurprisingly subdued. Mr Cameron says MPs need to get on with reforms now, and that the issue is "the rules themselves", which require some "political leadership". He says that judgement was needed on whether the claims were morally or ethically right - not whether or not the rules were followed. Mr Brown says agreement is needed across the parties.

David Cameron
1207 Mr Cameron is on his feet. He asks about expenses. Mr Cameron says all details should be published online now. Mr Brown reiterates the importance of transparency and says that every MP has a "duty" to restore confidence.

1204 Expenses is indeed the first question. Mr Brown says it is up to politicians to set up a "transparent" system of expenses to rebuild confidence.

1202 We are under way. Gordon Brown is paying tribute to soldiers killed in Afghanistan in the last week.

Michael Howard
1201 Michael Howard, former Conservative leader, tells Daily Politics that it is not a "given" that Mr Brown has enough authority over his party to ensure backing for Mr Martin.

Ken Livingstone
1200 Former Labour London Mayor Ken Livingstone tells Daily Politics the Speaker should go. he says Mr Martin has been "disappointing".

1159 How will the Speaker, Michael Martin, fare after criticisms from some MPs over his handling of the expenses issue? Not long until we find out.

Nick Robinson
1157 BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells BBC Two's Daily Politics the poor economic predictionss from the Bank of England "may be an opportunity" for Mr Cameron to attack the government.

1153 Before the main event gets under way, international development questions are taking place. The Commons chamber is about half full.

1152 On the list of MPs who listed to ask questions this week is Labour's Dennis Skinner. The veteran left-winger from Bolsover loves to taunt the Conservatives - particularly shadow chancellor George Osborne - so expect some verbal fireworks from him.

1148 Lest we forget, the economy is still the biggest issue for the world beyond Westminster. The Bank of England has predicted a recovery, but a slow and protracted one. Might this be Mr Cameron's line of attack, especially given the further rise in unemployment announced on Tuesday?

1146 On a dull and dank day at Westminster, Tory and Lib Dem leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg are putting the final touches to their questions for Gordon Brown. Of course MPs' expenses are the story at the moment but how would the issue play, given that no party has emerged unscathed from the Daily Telegraph's revelations? Maybe there will be some one-upmanship about what the various leaders are doing to address the problem. Either way the subject is bound to dominate proceedings.

1145 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of prime minister's questions. We will be bringing you full coverage of Gordon Brown's half-hour session with MPs, as well as all the latest comment and a selection of your views. My colleague Reeta Chakrabarti will be giving her insights, while Labour's former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and ex-Tory leader Michael Howard will provide inside views, courtesy of BBC Two's Daily Politics.


e-mail sent in by reader
I am glad to see that both Ken Livingstone and Michael Howard agree that Sir Christopher Kelly himself should decide how to reform Commons expenses. Leaving it up to MPs is the crux of the matter. However, I would suggest that Sir Christopher Kelly take some consultation from the British public. My suggestion is that MPs live in their constituency and those living furthest away can make use of government-owned digs.
Robin, Reading

e-mail sent in by reader
The PM keeps promising to look at issues, to get reports on things, and that he is determined to take action. When is he going to come out and actually DO something?
Chris, Oakham, UK

e-mail sent in by reader
Let's have fewer MPs. Give them a digital link to parliament so they stay and work 95% of the time in their constituency. Let's hear less braying from the House of Commons - if they want to speak their microphone connection is made by the Speaker's staff - so we don't hear the yobs. If they need to attend the House (why?) then they can occasionally stay in a hotel.
Frank, Wellington, Shropshire, England

e-mail sent in by reader
"Duty" to restore confidence? Their duty is to us, the public, not their wallets. It is time they started doing what they were elected for, and running the country. Pay them a salary for what they do, not for what they think they are worth. How many teachers (like self), nurses, doctors, etc, would like the sort of salary an MP gets? They do nothing except sit on their behinds and bleat.
Darren, Sheffield

e-mail sent in by reader
Did an MP shout "You're a millionaire" at David Cameron?
Sarah, Belfast

Gordon Brown seems to think that continually repeating the phrase "radical proposals" equates to providing the country leadership. It doesn't.
Jonathan, Hampshire

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