Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Full Story: PM's questions


Prime minister's questions

By Justin Parkinson

1553 With that thought in mind, and dinner time looming, it's time to bring an end to our live coverage of PMQs. Please join us again next week.

1551 The skies are darkening at Westminster after an unusually late running of PMQs. The authorities have moved it back three hours, and the Daily Politics computer is suffering problems from a huge surge in emails. Might a permanently later time be more popular with the viewing public? Could Parliament go even further, one wonders, maybe even scheduling PMQs for peak-time TV? Could Westminster vs Emmerdale become as much of a telly battle as Strictly Come Dancing vs X-Factor?

1547 So, unemployment was the big issue of the day, during a PMQs overshadowed - as so often is the case these days - by the death of more soldiers in Afghanistan. In the other House, Lord Mandelson is giving a statement on skills training. In a rather more sedate setting than PMQs, it has to be said.

e-mail sent in by reader

I never thought I'd feel sorry for Brown - but thanks to the Sun I do now. Chris Phillips

e-mail sent in by reader
Re: Jaynesh - if it wasn't for Gordon Brown's wasteful management of UK finances over the past years, we would not be in such a state.
Gordon, Wiltshire

e-mail sent in by reader
When you hear them bickering and point-scoring, you wonder how you can vote for any party with such a child in charge.
Richard, Cambridge

e-mail sent in by reader
The recession may be a global event but our inability to be prepared for it is all down to Brown. The UK had its longest period of growth ever yet we, as a nation are potless.
Anthony English, Rochdale

1544 Former Tory leader Michael Howard says any withdrawal from Afghanistan would represent a moral victory for the Taliban.

Mark Sanders
1542 From BBC political correspondent Mark Sanders: After the pressure that the PM has been under over "that letter" and "that phone call" to Jacqui Janes, a show of support from Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg, who comments on Gordon Brown's "genuine sympathy" when he gave his condolences to those who have died in Afghanistan. Mr Clegg challenged the PM on reform of housing benefit which he claimed would cost the poorest £15 a week. One question from the Tory benches on Afghanistan but not as much as expected. The exchanges between Cameron and Brown on unemployment and clashes between the two on spending cuts give us a flavour of what is to come in the election campaign.

e-mail sent in by reader
Good to see the Speaker extend PMQs to make up for the reading of the fallen at the start of the session. We need as much accountability from this PM as possible.
Bob, Stirling, Scotland

e-mail sent in by reader
David Cameron seems to lack real knowledge, however is only a good showman. Not good enough.
Tom, London

Ben Bradshaw
1540 Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw says there is a sense that "if a cat is run over at the moment", Mr Brown will get the blame. He adds that there has not been a single request from the military's chiefs of staff for equipment which has been turned down.

e-mail sent in by reader
"No-one getting the relief will lose it" re: childcare voucher schemes. So the rest of us who work and want children get stuffed. Another pot shot at the working man & woman trying to provide to the economy and raise a family. Goodbye Gordon, time to go.
LMA, Lancashire

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RE: Mark Allison - Why should we stand by a man who is ruining the country? He's failing at every turn. There is certainly no obligation for us to support a dismal PM just because there is a war on, especially one which is as unpopular and pointless as this one seems to be.
Nathan Topping, St. Helens

Michael Howard
1537 Michael Howard says he had "some sympathy" with Gordon Brown about the reporting of his letter to the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. But, he adds, it was a legitimate story.

Nick Robinson
1537 BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells The Daily Politics there was "not a huge amount of progress" on economic arguments between the two main party leaders, who traded quips and soundbites while debating youth unemployment figures.

1534 Lib Dem Phil Willis says home carers need "respite". Mr Brown says he is determined to do more over time to help them. And, with that, PMQs is over for another week.

Mark Sanders
1534 From BBC political correspondent Mark Sanders: On Armistice Day, the sombre ritual of the Prime Minister reading out the names of those service personnel killed in Afghanistan has an added poignancy. The first question, from Labour backbencher Anne Begg, is about equipment and Gordon Brown insists that the heads of the services have given assurances that British troops in Afghanistan have the resources they need. David Cameron avoids mentioning the Jacqui Janes affair and goes for the attack on the level of youth unemployment. Gordon Brown rattles through the measures to help young people out of work he says the Tories have opposed. David Cameron accuses the PM of failing to abolish youth unemployment and has a dig at the fact that a former government adviser, David Freud, defected to the Conservatives, "he left the bunker to come and work for us."

1533 Mr Brown says the opposition opposes guarantees of personal service in healthcare.

1532 In response to a Tory MP's question, Mr Brown says the government must show "why we are in Afghanistan" and that there is a plan to succeed there. He says he applauds the "extreme bravery" of all UK armed forces in the country.

e-mail sent in by reader
Are all the Labour questions planted? Brown jumps up a little too cheerily to answer them. Every answer to an opponent starts and ends with "We're doing more than any other government blah blah.."
Frizby, London

1531 Labour's Brian Jenkins calls for the recently discovered haul of Anglo-Saxon gold to be displayed in his constituency of Tamworth. Mr Brown says the British Museum is keen to ensure the treasure remains in the Midlands.

1530 Labour's Elliot Morley calls for support for manufacturing to improve. The PM says the government is working to give such backing.

e-mail sent in by reader
David Cameron just doesn't seem to realise that the recession is a global phenomenon, not particular to the UK; blaming Gordon Brown for the recession shows the Conservatives lack of even the most basic economic knowledge.
Jaynesh Patel, Camden, London

e-mail sent in by reader
I heard Brown was going to produce another 30,000 jobs for the young Unemployed - are these going to be part of the 500,000 he announced last year sometime? The ones that have so far not materialised? The mans a clueless failure - Time to go Gord!
Matt, London

1528 Independent Conservative Andrew Pelling calls for a referendum on EU membership. Mr Brown says the public has lost faith in the Tories on the subject.

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(RE: Andrew Young) You'd look like that after the week he's had.
Steven, Sunderland

1526 Tory Andrew Mackay says the plans to "scrap tax relief" on childcare are wrong. Mr Brown says no-one getting the relief will lose it and adds that nursery education for two-year-olds will be expanded.

1525 Mr Brown gets a question from Labour MP Ken Purchase on care homes. The Speaker warns against the question becoming as long as an "essay". The PM says a strategy will be published.

e-mail sent in by reader
Please, please, please can the Speaker make one sincere tribute speech about servicemen at the start of PMQs on behalf of all MPs instead of the multiple statements that, to me, degrade the sincerity by making it look like political posturing.
Mr L Swann, Northumberland

1524 Tory Tim Loughton says a report shows 60% of local authorities are failing to recruit and maintain childcare staff. Mr Brown says all the proposals in Lord Laming's report on the subject of child protection have been accepted.

e-mail sent in by reader
To be fair no one should feel obliged to wear a poppy, or should feel that those who don't are 'deliberately winding us up'. Besides it might clash with his socks.
Ed Leggott, Hull

1522 On banking, Mr Brown says there will have to be a better international system of regulation.

1521 Mr Brown says the government is trying to reform housing benefits to help those in need. He has a dig at Mr Clegg, who recently said there would have to be "savage" public spending cuts.

Nick Clegg
1520 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg pays tribute to the soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. He asks how a Labour government could be planning to change housing allowance rules to hit the poor. Mr Brown says Labour is helping the least well-off in society.

e-mail sent in by reader
Gordon Brown is out of ideas. he looks tired, desperate and sad. We need new strong leadership in the UK.
Andrew Young, Baldock, UK

1518 Mr Brown promises to talk to organisations concerned about the state of the UK's war memorials.

e-mail sent in by reader
(RE: Mark Allison) Maybe if we had a leader to be proud of we could stand by him?
Stuart Gordon, Cwmbran

1516 Mr Cameron signs off saying the PM has neither "courage" nor "convictions". The PM says the Tories were responsible for the highest level of unemployment the country has seen and would return the country to that situation. Lively stuff.

1515 The Speaker once again says government backbenchers are "too excitable". Mr Cameron again urges the PM to say he is planning cuts next year to apprenticeship schemes. Mr Brown says the government is giving people more opportunities. He adds that the Tory leader has been "wrong" on every economic issue.

David Cameron
1514 The volume level rises as Mr Cameron lists a selection of government policies he thinks are not worthwhile. He produces what he says is a "leaked" government memo calling for cuts in training programmes. The Tory leader says this is result of Mr Brown's economic policies. Mr Brown says Mr Cameron "doesn't have a clue" what is happening.

e-mail sent in by reader
I don't want to sound all righteous, but where is Jack Straws poppy? In fact several visible MPs don't appear to be wearing any.Are they winding us all up deliberately?
Joe Wyndham, Wadhurst

e-mail sent in by reader
Gordon Brown is the leader of our great nation. It is time we stood behind him in ridding our world of the hatred and fear spread by the Taliban. We can never have enough helicopters or protective armour for our brave soldiers. Their job is very difficult and requires extreme bravery. We should stand behind them and our prime minister as the great nation we are. Not been disrespectful and on a witch hunt against the leader of our country.
Mark Allison, Driffield, East Yorkshire

1510 It's ding-dong stuff, as Mr Cameron says the PM is wrong on his employment policies. The Speaker tells Labour MPs to be quiet.

1508 Mr Brown says no government in Europe is doing more to help young people into work. Mr Cameron accuses him of living "in a parallel universe". The F-word - "failed" - is repeated. And again.

David Cameron
1507 Conservative leader David Cameron also pays tribute to soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He says youth unemployment has reached a record high in today's figures and says the PM has "failed" on this issue. Mr Brown says Labour has given opportunities which were opposed by the Conservatives.

1505 Labour's Anne Begg asks what the PM is doing to equip troops properly and what decision on troop deployment can be expected from the US. Mr Brown says UK troops are and will be fully equipped. He adds that President Obama should make an announcement on deployment in the next few days.

Gordon Brown
1502 The prime minister is on his feet. He pays tribute to soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Nick Robinson
1501 BBC political editor Nick Robinson predicts that Mr Cameron will want to appear to stand side-by-side with the PM over the war on Armistice Day. Let's see.

1458 Almost time. The chamber is buzzing. David Cameron is in his seat.

Ben Bradshaw
1456 Ben Bradshaw says that cutting the number of MPs radically would remove the relationship politicians have with their constituents.

1455 Former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross tells the Daily Politics that many MPs lack the depth of technical expertise to run Whitehall departments. He also says the number of MPs should be cut to about 200.

1452 Back in the Commons chamber, the noise level is building. It does this every week ahead of PMQs.

Ben Bradshaw
1449 Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw says he thinks it is "unfair" that UKIP's Nigel Farage is breaking a convention by standing against the Speaker at the next election.

Michael Howard
1447 Former Tory leader Michael Howard tells BBC Two's Daily Politics that the most likely effect of UKIP standing in many seats at the next election is to help Labour or the Lib Dems, undermining UKIP's own aims.

1446 Outgoing UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage is on BBC Two's Daily Politics. He is fighting Speaker John Bercow in his Buckingham seat at the next election. Mr Farage says Lord Pearson should be the next UKIP leader, that he is "head and shoulders" above other candidates.

1443 Among those listed to ask questions today are Tory Andrew Mackay and Labour's Elliot Morley. But before PMQs, we are just coming towards the end of questions for the Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain. The chamber is about a third full.

Tony Blair
1440 With more than 75,000 people signing a petition on the Downing Street website calling for the PM to reverse his plans to phase out childcare vouchers for most families, there could well be questions on it in the House. Oh, and might David Cameron have some fun ahead of next week's European summit, where the first president of the European Council - seemingly increasingly unlikely to be Tony Blair - will be decided?

1438 So, what are we expecting to come up? Given the sombre events of recent weeks in Afghanistan - and the reporting of a mother's anger over the letter she received from the prime minister - the war is likely to feature. Unemployment figures are out, rising but at a slower rate. They usually get a mention, at least from a backbench MP.

1436 There will be commentary today from my colleague Mark Sanders. Meanwhile, we will get the insider's view - courtesy of BBC Two's Daily Politics - from Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw and former Conservative leader Michael Howard.

1434 Hello and welcome to our live text coverage of prime minister's questions. The session gets under way at 1500 GMT today, three hours later than normal. This is because of the special Armistice Day service held earlier at Westminster Abbey.

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