Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 13:51 UK

The Full Story: PM's questions


Prime minister's questions in full

By Emma Griffiths

1350 Well it's all quietened down a bit now so we're going to bring our live coverage to a close. Thanks for all your emails, texts and tweets over the past couple of hours. And don't forget that if you want to see more Commons action every minute of it is shown on BBC Parliament - and we'll be streaming live the whole of the SNP/Plaid debate calling for an immediate General Election. That is expected to start at about 4pm. Join us again next Wednesday for our next scheduled live text event - it should be an emotional Commons session given that it's Speaker Michael Martin's final prime minister's questions.

1341 What has been happening outside the Commons? The Tories have been seeking to clarify Andrew Lansley's comments earlier after the argy bargy over public spending. Mr Brown says the Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley appeared to suggest they would cut spending in most areas by 10% after 2011. The Tories deny this and say Labour's own plans would see a 7% fall in spending, in many departments, after 2011. They say Mr Lansley was talking about the spending cuts built into Labour's Budget plans.
After the recent focus on near-civil war in the Labour Party and MP expenses it seems that this is a move back towards a more traditional battleground. Listen to the Today clip and decide for yourself.

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John from Yorkshire says: I think part of the reform is that MP's should retire at 65 to allow the younger generation to take over. Have Your Say

1334 And that's the end of the session. The PM is off and MPs are raising points of order.

1333 Martin Salter tells the PM to ignore Tory backbenchers and calls for an end to "the scandal of moonlighting" by MPs to "line their own pockets". Mr Brown says more details of second jobs will be given soon.

1332 Tory MP Peter Lilley is not at all happy with what he's heard from Mr Brown. He has a pop at the "rag bag" of reforms Mr Brown has put forward - suggested it is a form of "displacement activity" - a distraction from Labour's troubles and the economy. The PM suggests he is not facing up to the expenses scandal. "That is not displacement activity that is essential activity" to restore Parliament's reputation, he says.

1330 Labour's Louise Ellman wants more powers for select committees - she's chairman of the Transport Committee. Mr Brown says he's not surprised she's asking for more resources but that's a matter for the House, not for him.

1329 Roger Gale, a Tory MP, says he didn't get quite the same message from last week's elections that the PM apparently got. Voters told him Mr Brown should go and there should be a referendum on the EU treaty, he says. Mr Brown says any MP knows the election was a verdict "on the way we conducted ourselves over expenses".

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Mike Wainwright from London says: Bob Wareing is right. Brown's put down that the US system often causes conflict between the Executive and the Legislature is the whole point, not a problem. It is about checks and balances as my teachers would have said (a long time ago). Have Your Say

1328 Labour MP Kate Hoey says 75% of laws are made in Europe, not Westminster, and gets Tory cheers for her call for a referendum on the EU treaty. Mr Brown stresses the economic importance of Britain's relationship with the EU.

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Susanna Smith from Newmarket says: Mr Brown says Mr Wareing is proposing the US constitution - which has its own problems as their two houses often don't agree". Yes Brown! But that is the whole point of the Lords! It's not a rubber stamp! Now we see why so many of the Cabinet are in fact (unelected) Lords. Have Your Say

Duncan212 says: Why are we paying these people if they aren't doing their jobs? We've asked them to represent us and they aren't there! Have Your Say on Twitter

1327 Evan Harris, the Lib Dem MP, is also complaining that government business is getting through the Commons without scrutiny. Mr Brown appears to have opened a can of worms on the issue of the executive vs Parliament.

1326 Former Labour minister Chris Mullin suggests Parliament resume sittings in September - party conference season - to stop the government getting an "80-day holiday from scrutiny". Mr Brown says the House had voted not to have a September session.

1324 Tory MP Bill Cash is on his feet. He is criticising the idea of a "judicial supremacy" over Parliament - be it UK courts or European courts.

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Philip Murphy from Manchester says: Most MPs appear to have better things to do than debate parliament's future. They've vacated, that's a disgrace. Have Your Say

TheCavalry says: Written Constitutions are hard to change, very hard. No need to write it down, we know what we believe in. Have Your Say on Twitter

text message
John from Dorset says:The "first past the post" system must have been introduced in the first place for a very good reason. The history of voting systems needs to be taken into consideration before a change or it may be harder to govern in the future. Text 61124

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Josh from London says: People here are harping on about Labour changing the system in their favour, yet they conveniently forget Cameron's proposal in January to cut the number of MPs in cities - this would clearly benefit the Tories. Have Your Say

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Alex Ingram from London says:Some good proposals from Brown, Cameron should focus on reducing the number of MPs, his only good idea other than fixed term parliaments. For once, Clegg is in the right place. But we have to reform what we can now, before the Tories get in or we hit a hung parliament. We'll rue failure to reform the voting system if it's not sorted out in the next year. Have Your Say

1323 Michael Meacher is back on his feet. Again he says MPs have to be able to hold the government to account and says they should have a say in selecting committee chairmen in secret ballots. Mr Brown pays tribute to his long history of seeking reform.

1323 Ex-Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith says MPs should be telling the executive what to do, not the other way around. Mr Brown says he's already handed over some powers and, tapping his finger, says the Commons has to face up to the fact that it "let people down".


Daily Politics' analysis of PMQs with MPs Ann Widdecombe and Phil Woolas

Here's the verdict on prime minister's questions from the Daily Politics, with BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson, Ann Widdecombe and Phil Woolas.

1319 Another suggestion for discussion, Geraldine Smith, a Labour MP, says there should be a referendum once every 15-20 years on whether Britain should remain as part of the European Union. Mr Brown says the last one, in the 1970s, showed two thirds of people wanted to be part of the EU and he did not believe that had "fundamentally changed" - this is met with loud scoffing from opposition benches.

1317 Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell says select committees should be given "real powers" - including to affirm new secretaries of state for the relevant departments, especially when they're coming from the Lords.Mr Brown has been under fire for having too many peers in his cabinet.

1316 Ex-Labour and currentindependent MP Bob Wareing says far from the government being accountable to the Commons, it's the other way around - he is echoing a complaint made several times by disgruntled MPs during the session. Should there be a separation of powers between the Commons and executive, he asks. Mr Brown says Mr Wareing is proposing the US constitution - which has its own problems as their two houses often don't agree

1314 Sir Malcolm Rifkind says the proposals come from an "exhausted prime minister" and says it would be "premature" to commit to a written constitution. Mr Brown says the "ad hoc" system had been discredited during the expenses scandal - Tory MPs obviously disagree this is to do with the constitution as they shout across the chamber.

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Ciaran Conway from Nottingham says: Clegg spoke excellently...maybe brown should offer him a cabinet position! Have Your Say

1313 Labour backbencher Gordon Prentice stands up to have a go at "tax exiles" who fund political parties - he refers to the "Ashcroft loophole" - a dig at Tory backer Lord Ashcroft whose tax position is often questioned by Labour MPs.

1312 Elfyn Llywd, of Plaid Cymru, says the daily abuse of guillotines is an "absolute farce" - I think he's talking about a method in which the government curtails debate, as opposed to the execution machines used during the French Revolution.

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Alistair Hodgson from Bristol says: Is anyone else not a little shocked that there are so few MPs still in the chamber for such an important debate? Is this further proof that the vast majority of MPs are more than happy with the status quo 'old boys' club? Have Your Say

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Susanna Smith from Newmarket says: The Queen should appoint the House of Lords from an elected list on a free Commons vote. Have Your Say

Wendy Needham from Tonbridge says: Why do MPs need a new code of conduct? Do they need a set of rules to indicate how to be honest, honourable and show integrity? Have Your Say

1309 Keith Vaz, Labour's home affairs committee chairman, welcomes the idea of a written constitution but says it would take "a long period of time" - that's no reason not to start it though, he says. Ordinary people should be involved too.

1308 Mr Brown is addressing a quieter Commons chamber now. He keeps mentioning that MPs must show "humility". The benches are thinning out a bit now the opposition leaders have responded. Sir Alan Beith, a Lib Dem MP and contender to be the next Speaker, says backbenchers should be given a stronger role.

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Nanci Hogan says: Nice comments by Clegg. He's talking substance and sticking it to the Conservatives and Labour. Have Your Say

Richard Meredith from Huntingdon says:Gordon Brown still doesn't get it. Government is not about frenzied reaction to events. All this 'reform' which he seems to want to push through before the House rises for summer will give the impression of reform not the actuality. If the government believed in it the Leader of the House would delay the recess until August or even September to debate it properly. It's all flim-flam until the Tories take over the mess New Labour have left the Country in. Have Your Say

1306 Senior Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell confirms that all MPs' receipts for claims made over four years will be published in June. He also says Sir Christopher Kelly's committee's proposals will be put forward soon.

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James from London says: These constitutional reforms just confirm that Labour have only their own interests at heart and not the country. Have Your Say

Ian Mangles from Saffron Walden says:The only time we'll get dramatic changes to parliament is as the ruling party realises it's not going to get re-elected. The Tories will not change the electoral system when they've just come to power. So if Labour don't change it now, it won't be changed. Have Your Say

jonwaldock says: They've announced new policies, so I wish they'd just get on with it. We know they're going to loose an election, but they could at least salvage some creditability. Have Your Say on Twitter

1306 Mr Brown says only three MPs have been excluded from the House of Commons in the last century, which he says many people will find surprising.

1306 Sir George Young, the Tory chairman of the standards and privileges committee, asks that proposals on code of conducts for MPs are not rushed through as they have serious implications. Mr Brown says lots of countries have code of conducts for their Parliamentarians. He says they are necessary but discussions can be had on the "manner in which they are done"

1305 Labour MP Tony Wright, chairman of the public administration committee, asks that fixed term Parliaments are added to the list of things Mr Brown is proposing. He suggests May 6 2010 as a date for the next election. Mr Brown says he's not making any specific announcements today about a written constitution

1304 MPs have agreed on the need to reform the House of Lords, unfortunately the lords have not - he says. The upper house is where previous attempts to reform it have been blocked

1302 Mr Brown continues to tick off MPs who are not listening quietly by saying some have not recognised the "gravity" of the situation. On the recess idea, he says it is a "myth" Mps are on holiday - they're working very hard in their constituencies, he says

1300 Mr Brown says he's glad everyone is agreeing to a new independent standards authority and code of conduct and they should go through quickly.

1259 Cross-party consensus on electoral reform is out of the question, Mr Clegg says. He says the Tories will never agree to change "this cosy Westminster stitch up" and asks for an assurance of a referendum of voting change being called this autumn.

1258 Mr Clegg, a supporter of proportional respresentation, welcomes any move away from the current "discredited" system - it gives MPs "safe seats for life" - "that's why they like it" he says, pointing at the Tory benches.

Nick Clegg
1257 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg's on his feet. He welcomes the "deathbed conversion" of Mr Brown to electoral reform who he says has "blocked" change at all stages over the past 12 years. He's in favour of reforming the Lords and a standards authority and MPs' code of conduct, which he says should be implemented "immediately". In what will no doubt prove an unpopular suggestion, he says MPs should forego their summer recess to get all the bills through

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James Reynolds from Hatfield says: There's something wrong with Democracy when we don't get to vote on changes being made to our voting system. Good Job Brown. Have Your Say

EnglishFolkfan says: Until we have compulsory voting (as in other democracies!) Politicians do not respect an electorate when less than 50% vote Have Your Say on Twitter

1256 Addressing the issue of electoral reform, he says the relationship between an MP and their constituency will be safeguarded - presumably knocking back the idea of European election-style PR as an option.

1255 Mr Brown says the low turnout shows reform is needed and people want MPs to "clean up" politics. He wants Tory support for various proposals including an independent regulator and a code of conduct for MPs. Not to mention moves to kick out those who have misbehaved. He gets a bit of barracking after a slip of the tongue when he talks of "our party" rather than "our parties" - the Speaker steps in.

aldakila says: Why can't Westminster Parliament stop sounding like animals and be like the Scottish/Welsh governments - they behave human! Have Your Say on Twitter

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Jim Ball from Taunton says: An elected upper house will not work. It will be elected as the majority party at the time. It would be more reflective if the upper house were to be selected randomly, similarly to a jury. Have Your Say

1253 The Tory leader says Mr Brown only wants to change the voting system "because he fears he's going to lose under the existing rules". He wants constituencies to be redrawn and fewer MPs. The proposal are a "pretty sorry attempt" to distract people from Labour's difficulties, he says as he wraps up, to cheers from the Tories.

Ross Hawkins
1252 From BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins: The moment that defined Prime Minister's Questions took place at 0710 on the Today programme - when the shadow health secretary appeared to suggest most government departments would see 10% spending cuts over three years from 2011. The Tories insist he was talking about Labour plans, but accusations of spending cut plans were at the centre of this session - and may well dominate the debate as we approach a general election. On the constitutional reform plans Gordon Brown rattled quickly through some complex ideas in that statement. David Cameron's first response was simple and unsurprising - once again he's demanded a general election.

1250 More ideas from Mr Cameron - people should be allowed a referendum on "massive council tax rises". He also raises the issue of the Lisbon Treaty and the lack of what he says was the promised referendum. Other ideas include publishing all public spending online. And he's very much against the idea of PR as a voting system which he says leads to "backroom deals" - many "hear hears" from the Tory benches on that one

1249 Mr Cameron lists various things Mr Brown has "launched and relaunched" in the past, like a British Bill of Rights, that he says "never happens". He mocks the "national council for democratic renewal" launched this week, saying it "sounds like something out of North Korea". He points out only ministers are on it - not outsiders and no other parties

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Elizabeth Eagles from Watlington says: I'm in full agreement with Mr Brown, we need to review the electoral process. For a start we, the voting public, should decide who our Prime Minister is, so let's start there and get this process change underway! I don't recall a process where we the electoral voted Mr Brown in.. he voted himself in!!! Totally unacceptable! Is this democracy? Have Your Say

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Dicky J from London says: How dare the current PM propose sweeping changes to the centuries-old constitution of this country when he and his party have clearly lost all popular mandate to govern? He is flailing around, making empty promises concerning constitutional reform and spending increases, none of which he is capable or mandated to deliver. Have Your Say

1248 Mr Cameron chips in with his own suggestions for reform - including the familiar Tory call to axe "quangos". He also says party whips shouldn't choose select committee chairmen and challenges Mr Brown to give a firm commitment on that

1247 Mr Cameron asks how many more excuses Labour can come up with not to hold an election. He says the government is too secretive and "unwilling to give up power". But he says there is "much in this statement that we can support" - he says many of them are his own ideas

David Cameron
1246 David Cameron's stood up - he says Mr Brown rattled through his speech so quickly he wasn't sure he'd convinced himself. The Tory leader says the best way of restoring trust in democracy and Westminster would be to hold a general election.

1245 Mr Brown ends by saying d MPs must seize the moment to lift politics to a higher standard - he remarks to the Speaker, amid noisy chatter, that the House is not "behaving". MPs laugh as he says they must "stand together" for democracy.

1245 The statement continues with references to getting young people to vote more - possibly by lowering the current age limit of 18 on voting.

1244 He is listing other topics - the devolution of policing in Northern Ireland, further devolution in Wales and "the next stage of devolution in England" - there'll be a lot of people who want to see an English Parliament who will be looking forward to looking at the details behind those words.

1242 Mr Brown says proposals will be put forward to reform the House of Lords - including an 80% or 100% elected chamber. He gets lots of "hear hears" from Labour MPs.

1241 Government papers, currently held secret for 30 years, will be released after 20 years apart from the most sensitive. His suggestion the executive will be made "more accountable to Parliament" is also met with laughter.

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Gary N from Edinburgh says: Same old same old from this tired old Fifer. Where Tony Blair used to laugh off the Tories and seemingly belittle any and all points the leader of the opposition made, Brown now gets flustered and angry at the mere sight of David Cameron. On spending cuts, I find it quite remarkable that when we are already spending more than the country makes in revenue this Government continues to increase spending! Answer me this Gordon, how do we pay for all your grand plans without increasing the deficit and dragging this country deeper into debt? The Tory plan may be tough, but it's right. Have Your Say

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Oliver Westall from UK says: Whatever you think about the PM, it is absolutely clear there is no other party yet fit for government. The government deserve a chance to prepare themselves for election as much as the opposition need time to prove they are fit to govern. Have Your Say

1239 There will be a special commission on reforms for the Commons - including timetabling and the makeup of committees. There is some laughter as Mr Brown suggests widening Freedom of Information legislation. There had been a move earlier this year that would have excluded MPs from FOI.

1238 Recall is a possibility he says where "inappropriate behaviour" is uncovered. The House of Lords will not escape unscathed, there will also be proposals to make it more transparent and cheaper.

1237 The regulator will also scrutinise "value for money" in MPs' money. MPs can also expect a new code of conduct in a short bill to be introduced before summer recess. The current sanctions system for MPs is "not fit for purpose", he says pointing out the last time an MP was expelled was in 1954. The rules need updating, he says. MPs are listening carefully.

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Simon Horton from Llanfairpwll says: Gordon Brown - as ex-Chancellor should know that due to taxpayers' money being used to bail out the banking system that either tax will have to be increased or public spending cut - one or the other over the next 10 years to pay off Britain's debt - Labour, if still there next year will have to do the same - so mentioning cuts in public spending is irrelevant. Have Your Say

mrcakey says: Michael Martin seems to be relishing the freedom given to him by his impending departure. Very snappy! Have Your Say on Twitter

1236 Some steps have already been agreed he says but they are not enough. New proposals are to be brought before Parliament before the summer - including a move from self-regulation to a new independent standards authority. It would take over the role of the Fees Office and maintain the members' interest register

1235 The PM says there must be a break with the "old ways" and everyone must play a part in restoring trust.

Gordon Brown
1234 Mr Brown pledges an end to the "abuses of the past" - a reference to the MPs' expenses scandal. Public confidence has been shaken and fundamental change is needed, he says.

1233 We've got to the end of PMQs now. The last question: David Hamilton invites Mr Brown to visit his constituency in Fife to pay tribute to miners' hero Lawrence Daley. Mr Brown has now moved onto his constitutional reform statement. We'll stick with it and do keep sending us your views on it using any of the methods highlighted on the top right hand side of this page.

1230 Tory Mark Harper is met with cheers as he asks why anyone should believe the PM after suggesting cuts had been made to services in his constituency. Mr Brown says if he's worried about cuts, he should talk to his own front bench

1229 Parmjit Dhanda, who has just announced he's running to be Speaker to replace Mr Martin, is met with some murmurs as he stands up. "Steady" he remarks. He's asking about Lloyds TSB's plans to close all Cheltenham and Gloucester branches.

jrg1990 says: This is brilliant. Conservatives so loud that they're threatening to throw several out...Brown needs to go! Have Your Say on Twitter

SM_Thomas says: I think we have a lot more issues to discuss, GB turns to standard vote winning comments and avoids the real issues. Have Your Say on Twitter

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Frank from Oxfordshire says: We all know there are going to have to be cuts to spending so why treat us like idiots and pretend not. Tell the truth Mr Brown, you never know, you might grow to like it. Have Your Say

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Craig Heeley from Badminton says: Let's have public spending cuts. They public sector seems insulated from all economic reality. Why is cutting public sector waste considered by the PM to be a bad thing? Have Your Say

1227 There is silence in the chamber as Tory MP Nigel Evans asks a question about deaths from hospital-acquired infections. Mr Brown says he is determined to reduce them and had brought in new rules for staff.

1226 After another reference to public spending cuts and Mr Lansley's comments on the Today programme this morning - Mr Brown says the Tories have revealed their "true manifesto" - to noisy hear hears from Labour benches.

1225 A leadership dig from the Tories. Mark Lancaster asks what Mr Brown has ever "achieved in the real world" to qualify him for the job. Mr Brown suggests every MP should be showing "humility" after the last few weeks, and that is what he's going to do.

1225 A friendly question from Labour MP Shona McIsaac about economic development in her Cleethorpes constituency - she is groaned and shouted at by opposition MPs.

1224 Sir Robert Smith, a Lib Dem MP, asks about council tax benefit and savings limit - he says it hasn't gone up enough. Mr Brown says a lot has been done to get children and pensioners out of poverty.

1221 Former Labour minister Michael Meacher asks about saving the banks and lending to businesses - he says the PM should force banks to give priority to rescuing "the real economy rather than simply looking after their own interests". Mr Brown says banks have a duty to lend to small businesses and for housing. Mr Brown looks comfortable on this chancellor-like subject, using that old crowd-pleasing word "quantitative" and going on to list things the government had done to help.

1220 Mr Clegg goes on to ask why so many families are waiting for social housing - saying the figures are 70% higher than when Labour came into power. He gets cheers for suggesting councils be allowed to build homes. Mr Brown says Labour has made progress on improving housing and is "not complacent".

Nick Clegg
1219 Nick Clegg has stood up but it's hard to hear him as MPs are talking over the top of him. The rowdiness returns. Mr Clegg presses on and urges Mr Brown to deliver on his promises to help homeowners through the recession.

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Martin Cook from London says: Why does the Prime Minister not realise (or admit) that cuts have to be made in public spending? Have Your Say

1218 Eric Illsley, a Labour backbencher, raises the issues of redundancies in his constituency and asks the PM to intervene - things have calmed down momentarily.

1215 Mr Cameron calls the government "weak, divided and incompetent" - a charge Tony Blair in opposition used to level at John Major. Mr Brown is back onto the subject of public spending cuts. It's very rowdy in the chamber. Michael Martin, in his penultimate PMQs, admonishes Tory MP Andrew Robathan and tells him he's at risk of being removed.

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Darren John from Swindon says: David Cameron is lining himself to replace Sir Alan on The Apprentice....Mr Brown...You're Fired! Have Your Say

1215 Mr Cameron makes several digs about the PM's reshuffle - saying he wants second preference voting but has been left with a "second preference chancellor" - there had been widespread reports Alistair Darling was to be moved, but refused to budge.

Ross Hawkins
1215 From BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins: Gordon Brown wants a debate on changing the voting system. And he's getting one. David Cameron think's he's only interested in the subject because of Labour's fortunes at the ballot box.

1214 Mr Brown turns fire back on the Tories with another reference to alleged Tory spending cuts. He says Mr Cameron needs to be "honest with the country" - there is some shouting from Labour MPs behind him.

1213 Mr Cameron says Mr Brown's statement that he had "no plans" should be interpreted as meaning he is thinking of having a referendum. He demands a stronger commitment. Mr Brown says he said "no plans" and he means "no plans". The Tories are loudly supporting Mr Cameron who says the PM has "no democratic legitimacy" and says he is trying to "fix the rules of the election".

1211 Mr Cameron says remarks like that make him a "figure of ridicule" - he says there's not been "a squeak" about electoral reform for 12 years, now all of a sudden he's interested.

1210 Mr Brown says there are no plans to change the voting system before the next general election - he says there's an interest "throughout the country" on the issue of electoral reform. He accuses the Tory leader of "self interest" in the way he is approaching policy discussion. Mr Cameron laughs - as do many Tory MPs. Speaker Michael Martin steps in to restore order.

1208 Mr Brown says he'll answer questions about electoral reform in his statement later - Mr Cameron says it's too late as he's already briefed the press. The discussion moves to the BNP - which won two MEP seats this week - Mr Cameron says that is an argument against proportional representation for Westminster. Mr Brown attacks the BNP and says he has never supported proportional representation as a policy.

1207 Mr Brown is backed by Labour MPs as he says finally the Tories have asked a question about policy. Mr Cameron almost misses his second question as the Speaker calls another MP to ask a question before correcting himself and calling the Conservative leader again.

David Cameron
1206 David Cameron is met with cheers and laughter as he tells Mr Brown "how pleased" he is "to see the prime minister in his place" - a reference to Mr Brown's leadership troubles. He says the Tories are against changing the electoral system and suggests it is because Labour got 15% of the vote in the Euro elections

1204 As predicted veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman is the backbencher to read out a lengthy question about "Tory cuts", Mr Brown again raises Andrew Lansley's comments. Lots of barracking as he says Labour would invest in the future and Tories would make cuts.

Gordon Brown
1203 Mr Brown says shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has said he will be cutting spending in "vital areas" - only to be met with shouts from the Tory benches.

1202 The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson says there will be spending cuts after the next general election, no matter who is in charge. He expects a friendly Labour MP to ask the PM about "Tory spending cuts". Mr Brown gets going with this very subject as he starts the session.

1158 Mr Brown's spokesman has announced that a summary version of a report into Shahid Malik will be published today, with "personal and confidential" information about the MP removed. The Dewsbury MP stepped down as justice minister pending an inquiry into his rental arrangements - which appeared as part of the Telegraph's expenses coverage. He's since returned to government, this time in the communities department, after Sir Philip Mawer advised the PM he had not breached the ministerial code. Opposition parties wanted the whole report published amid cover-up claims.

1155 Mr Woolas ducks a question on what exactly will be the level of public sector spending squeezes in future years - he says if Labour had not done "what we've done, it would've been much worse". Unsurprisingly Miss Widdecombe disagrees. She says Labour was responsible for leaving the British economy heavily in debt and was not well placed to deal with it.

Phil Woolas
1154 Phil Woolas says he never doubted Gordon Brown would survive as leader and says he was being blamed for things that were not his fault. He says in 1991 everyone said John Major was finished but he went on to win in 1992. Miss Widdecombe rather unkindly quips: "That's because you put up Neil Kinnock, we're putting up David Cameron."

1154 So what else might come up at PMQs? Gordon Brown's decision to make Sir Alan Sugar a peer and offer him a government advisory job has not gone down at all well with the Tories. Sir Alan fronts the popular BBC show The Apprentice and the Tories say it compromises the BBC's impartiality. We can probably expect someone to raise it...

boxing glove
1153 Oh dear. We didn't think it could last and sure enough the consensus between Mr Woolas and Miss Widdecombe is over - she says the government is putting forward constitutional reform proposals as a "distraction" - Mr Woolas disagrees. Mr Robertson says it's quite a coincidence the PM is putting forward his plans on a day the SNP and Plaid Cymru have chosen to debate calling an immediate general election.

1151 There's a bit of banter on Daily Politics about whether there should be a general election. Angus Robertson of the SNP wants one in the wake of the expenses scandal - his party and Plaid Cymru are making just such a call in the Commons from about 4pm this afternoon. Phil Woolas says a fresh mandate for Parliament will happen soon anyway - a general election has to be called by next June anyway. Ann Widdecombe wants an election - she says Gordon Brown has made a mess of things.

1150 Gordon Brown is outlining his plans for constitutional reform to MPs straight after Prime Minister's questions and we'll be sticking with the live coverage for that - with all the details as they are announced and reaction as it comes. Daily Politics host Andrew Neil says the Lib Dems, well known campaigners for electoral reform, didn't want to put anyone up to come on the show until they've heard what the PM has to say.

1148 Miss Widdecombe might yet get Mr Woolas's backing for Speaker - they seem to be agreeing on a lot and he says he thinks the Speaker should be a Tory this time - the last two have been Labour MPs. But he points out, she hasn't said she's running yet

1147 There's a bit of discussion about the law lords decision to allow three terrorism suspects to appeal against their control orders after they argued they did not know what they were accused of. Ann Widdecombe, a former home office minister, backs the government over control orders but says they have to make sure they are not being misused. However she says it's not for judges to make the law. Phil Woolas says there is a serious difference between judges and the government on this.

Ann Widdecombe
1141 Ann Widdecombe says she has "yet to make up her mind" about whether she wants to be an interim Speaker - the formidable former minister is due to retire as an MP at the next election but someone needs to fill Michael Martin's shoes, after he stepped down during the expenses furore and it many have been encouraging her to offer herself as a short term replacement.

1140 Hello, and welcome to this week's live coverage of prime minister's questions. It's been quite a week for Gordon Brown. Since last week's PMQs four more cabinet ministers, and other junior ministers, have gone - James Purnell telling him bluntly to stand aside. Also there have been the English council and European elections - both of which were pretty disastrous for the Labour Party. David Cameron and Nick Clegg will have plenty of ammunition, but how will they choose to play it? Before PMQs starts there'll be some analysis from the Daily Politics studio, where Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe and immigration minister Phil Woolas are currently unpicking events.

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