Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 14:21 UK

The Full Story: PM's Questions


Watch the full half hour prime minister's questions session

By Brian Wheeler

1325 Ok, that's your lot for this week, on what has been a fairly historic PM questions. Thanks, as always, for all of your comments. Will the new Speaker succceed in his desire for a calmer and less noisy Commons? Join us again next week to find out.

Chris Grayling
1322 Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling, for the Conservatives, also believes the new Speaker made a good start, and adds that he has "set the bar high" by demanding that ministers make statements to the House before taking to the airwaves. Peter Hain, who has been accused of making a few policy announcements on the Today programme in his time, questions whether this will be possible in practice, given the demands of the 24 hour media.

1319 Welsh Secretary Peter Hain was also impressed, calling Mr Bercow's debut "quietly assertive".

Nick Harvey
1318 Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey tells the World at One Mr Bercow made a good start. "Hats off to him," he adds.

bryonyvk tweets:I like the casual speaker look, can't believe some people are complaining about it. Read bryonyvk's tweets.

Judley tweets:Bercow needs to tread a fine line between being the ring master or court jester. Read Judley's tweets.

sam_burnett tweets:PMQs looked pretty quiet and civilised on the television today - & everyone was quiet when Nick Clegg was talking for a change. Read sam_burnett's tweets.

Nick Robinson
1249 Back to what the party leaders were acutually talking about at PMQs. Nick Robinson says the Tories are trying a new tactic to deal with Mr Brown's constant claims that they would cut public service spending. They are not denying it, but are saying that Mr Brown is misleading voters about his own plans.

e-mail sent in by reader
Re GS Dunfermline, since when has the house ever been mature! Even a school wouldn't behave as they do and its that immaturity JB needs to stamp out
Jerm Netley, Littlehampton

The speaker made a good start, he was fluent, direct and clearly more fluid than the previous speaker
Harv, Wiltshire

Get a robe on Bercow for goodness sake. It comes across as a lack of respect for the institution of speaker.
Dave Miller, Aberdeen

Planted questions to Mr. Brown, not answering questions straightforwardly, new Speaker, same PM.
Alex, Leicester

jamestarbit tweets:scores Brown 5 (evasive, angry), Cameron 7 (nice work on Cabinet report), Clegg 6 (poor second question), Bercow 8 (good statement) Read jamestarbit's tweets.

ianvisits tweets:Indifferent PMQs, no clear winner from the party leaders, some sensible questions from the back benches, plants excepting though Read ianvisits's tweets.

Nick Robinson and Daily Politics guests give their verdicts on PMQs

1247 Dan C, from London, and others have asked if the Speaker has the power to force the prime minister to answer questions directly. The answer, in brief, is no. If the Speaker began to demand answers it would look like he was taking sides, which he is not allowed to do. What he can do is ensure questions are asked - and he can cut short replies that he does not think are answers.

Nick Herbert
1245 Nick Herbert, for the Conservatives on Daily Politics, was also impressed by Mr Bercow's debut and says he agrees with his point about ministers making statements to the House first, although he stops short of saying it will be Tory policy. Nick Robinson says he doubts that it will happen from either the Conservatives or Labour, due to the pressure politicians are under from the media.

e-mail sent in by reader
"The Prime Minister doesn't have to concern himself with Opposition policy." Excellent point, Mr Bercow! He should answer questions about his own policies.
Niklas Smith, Cambridge

Nick Robinson
1238 BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson thinks Mr Bercow made a confident start and was clearly not afraid to tick MPs, off although he was not really tested. Labour minister Hilary Benn was also impressed, noting on the BBC's Daily Politics that Mr Bercow got through more questions than usual.

e-mail sent in by reader
Disgusted that the Commons members are immature enough to react to an honest statement from Barry Gardiner. You wouldn't have that at a school, and it should not be accepted. Offensive.
Graeme Sharpe, Dunfermline

e-mail sent in by reader
Can Brian Wheeler confirm the point made by Richard in Newport? Does Bercow not have the power to force GB to answer a question directly?
DanC, London

e-mail sent in by reader
No change at all today. The only questions Brown even attempted to answer were those "staged" by the government whips. A complete waste of time.
Chris Oldershaw, Cenarth

1233 That's it. Mr Bercow is now making a brief statement on his new role He tells ministers they must make statements to the House first before briefing the media and tells them he wants statements and replies to be more brief and he says he wants all speakers to be heard "so that an atmosphere of calm, reasoned debate can be maintained".

1232 It is all over now and it has been a surefooted debut for Mr Bercow, although it was not, in all honesty, a vintage session. Mr Brown ended with a planted question from Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, allowing him to take another swipe at the Tories' new European partners.

e-mail sent in by reader
The speaker needs the traditional robes .. He looks like an other MP, not a speaker

Why do they keep going on about McBride? The whole MP's expenses issue made everyone so angry that they just forgot about McBride - they won't be able to reignite that issue...
Jordan, Wrexham

1229 MPs have calmed down considerably since the start of the session and they are now listening to the questions in near silence. Although the Speaker has just stepped in to caution an MP for making party political points.

e-mail sent in by reader
Why do people expect the Speaker to improve the PM's answers? He only has power to control the length of questions and answers, not their content - what could he do, ask the PM to try again?
Richard, Newport

e-mail sent in by reader
If JB really wants to 'make changes' perhaps he could ensure that PMQa is about 'questions' rather than points scoring and mutual back slapping.
Jerm Netley, Littlehampton

Mr Brown keeps denying that he will cut public spending. What about the cuts in our Armed Services?
Tim Bridgewater, London

1226 Mark Harper calls on Mr Brown to back Alastair Campbell's campaign to lift the ban on MPs who have been sectioned under the mental health act. Mr Brown says he will look at it but adds it has to be treated carefully.

1225 Labour's Barry Gardiner sparks laughter when he says he had a call from a police officer. He is making a point about crime rates. Commons humour clearly hasn't improved under the new regime.

e-mail sent in by reader
Seeing the Speaker wearing his traditional robes would be a good start. Currently, he looks like a local councillor chairing a planning meeting.
David Owen, Newport

10%, 10%....yawn. Doesn't Brown realise that this tactic is only going to make him look more foolish than he already does?
Noel, Totnes

1223 Labour MP Martin Salter - who ran Mr Bercow's campaign for Speaker - welcomes him to the chair and urges the whole House of Commons to get behind him. He asks about the scheduling of government business in the Commons. He has been campaigning for backbench MPs to get more time.

e-mail sent in by reader
Body language of the government front bench tells it all. Brown is isolated in his view on the economy
Tony Crooks, Eastbourne

wesstreeting tweets:Clegg omits the Lib Dem 'idea' of giving less people the chance to go to university... Read wesstreeting's tweets.

ConstantFury tweets: Stop showboating, Bercow. This isn't a talent show.. Read ConstantFury tweets.

1221 Unemployment now - and the House falls strangely silent. Wellingborough Tory MP Peter Bone asks Mr Brown whose fault it is that it is rising in his constituency - is it the fault of the former US president, the previous Conservative government or the prime minister who had claimed to have abolished boom and bust.

1220 Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski ticks off Mr Brown for his remarks about the Polish Law and Justice Party on Tuesday. Mr Brown has another little dig at the Tories' new European Parliament partners, although he calls them the Polish Law and Justice department...

shanecroucher tweets:Glad about Bercow's intervention, but if they do it again he needs to be loud, angry and stern. Read shanecroucher's tweets.

1218 Mr Brown has not received any text, e-mails or phone calls from former spin doctor Damian McBride, he tells MPs, after a question by Tory MP James Duddridge.

1217 "Third time lucky," says Mr Bercow as he makes another attempt to calm MPs down, although it is a fairly tame session so far by PMQ standards. He's going to be a busy Speaker if he keeps this up. Mr Brown rebuffs another attempt by Mr Clegg to force him to admit Labour will cut public spending.

Nick Clegg
1214 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg carries on David Cameron's line of attack. He asks Mr Brown to admit he is wrong on public spending. Mr Brown will do no such thing - "I am not wrong," he tells MPs.

e-mail sent in by reader
Bercow was useless as expected. Brown still can't give an honest answer to anything.
P Wells, Reading England

1213 Humour is clearly going to be a weapon in this Speaker's arsenal. He tells former Tory colleague Michael Fabricant to calm down as "it is not good for your health".

John Bercow
1211 Mr Bercow makes his first significant intervention - telling MPs they are making "far too much noise" adding: "The public doesn't like it and neither do I". It seems to do the trick, although the noise levels soon return to normal.

martinsteers tweets:What's the point of prepared questions and answers, and long winded ones at that at Read martinsteers's tweets.

1209 Serious sounding stuff as Mr Cameron calls on Mr Brown to apologise to the House for saying capital expenditure will continue to rise between now and the year of the Olympics. Mr Cameron quotes the government's own figures which he says show that is not the case. Mr Brown says spending was brought forward to deal with the recession.

1207 Mr Cameron has gone in on public spending - continuing his line of questioning from last week. He is trying to get the prime minister to admit Labour will cut capital spending - money spent on new schools and hospitals. The government has brought some of this investment forward to boost the economy, Mr Brown says.

David Cameron
1205 David Cameron picks up on Mr Bercow's comment to get a dig in about planted questions from Labour MPs, saying: "I think he has got more than the gist of it - he has a pre-prepared answer."

1204 Mr Bercow makes his first intervention, cutting Labour MP Patrick Hall short as he asks a question on housing. The new Speaker says: "I think the prime minister has got the gist of it."

Gordon Brown
1203 Prime Minister Gordon Brown begins by sending condolences to the families of servicemen killed in Afghanistan and the hostages who died.

1202 We're off. Patrick Hall is the first MP to welcome the Speaker.

e-mail sent in by reader
I want Bercow to insist that Brown actually answers the questions asked of him and stops blaming all his woes on Mrs Thatcher.
Baz, Scotland

Nick Robinson
1200 Nearly time for the main event. BBC Political editor Nick Robinson says all eyes will be on the way Mr Bercow handles PMQs. He has said he wants to see brisker proceedings, but he may wish to make a more low key debut, says Mr Robinson. The new Speaker will also make a short statement after PMQs on his plans for the role.

1157 Mr Bercow warns MPs taking part in international development questions that there are "far too many private conversations taking place". Just a few minutes to go before the main event.

1153 A word of encouragement for Mr Bercow from Lib Dem Malcolm Bruce, who says the House's gain is the international development committee's loss. Mr Bercow smiles back at him. He looks relaxed as he watches the chamber start to fill up from the Speaker's chair. If he is nervous, he doesn't look it.

1153 Iraq looks likely to dominate this week, although Gordon Brown has got his retaliation in first - he has just announced he will be given evidence in public to the planned inquiry if asked to.

1151 I've just noticed that Labour MP Martin Salter is fourth on the order paper for PMQs. Mr Salter was the man who rallied Labour MPs to get behind for Mr Bercow for the Speaker's job, so he should be guaranteed at least a few warm words from the Commons benches - although it will be interesting to watch the reaction of Conservative MPs, many of whom voted against Mr Bercow.

John Bercow
1150 John Bercow is limbering up for the biggest moment of his political career - taking charge of Prime Minister's Questions for the first time. Not only will the new Speaker be attempting to keep order during what is probably the noisiest and most unruly half hour of political debate anywhere in the world, he will also be watched like a hawk by the legions of sketchwriters, media pundits and former colleagues on the Tory benches, many of whom will be secretly praying for him to stumble and fall. So, no pressure then.

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