Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

In Full: PM's questions and counter-terror statement


The full session of PM's questions: From Democracy Live

By Justin Parkinson

1333 OK. That's it for our live text coverage of prime minister's questions and Gordon Brown's statement on counter-terrorism measures. Please join us again next Wednesday.

1325 Conservative Bill Cash says control orders must be repealed. He says this issue must be decided at Westminster, rather than in Europe. Mr Brown says protection of the individual is the government's priority. And, with that, the debate over the government's counter-terrorism statement ends.

1323 After a question from independent MP Bob Spink, Mr Brown says security on all forms of transport, including trains and the Tube, must be strengthened and people must always be vigilant.

1322 Labour Barry Gardiner says most citizens want stop-and-search powers to tackle terrorism but that these must be exercised properly. Mr Brown responds that the home secretary is dealing with a European judgement on the issue.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown says the lesson of the Afghanistan campaign is that 43 countries were prepared to come together to fight terrorism.

1319 Conservative Mark Pritchard asks what help can be given to airports in Middle East countries friendly to the UK. Mr Brown says this is already happening.

1317 The DUP's William McCrea says there is a continuous threat in the UK from republican groups. Mr Brown says terrorism and violence "cannot be justified under any circumstances".

1315 Labour's Denis MacShane says a "preacher of hate" has been asked to speak at Birmingham University. Mr Brown says universities must address such issues, while maintaining academic freedom.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown says every airport in the country will respond to demands for tighter security and, if this is done properly, the disruption to passengers can be minimised.

1313 Labour's Alun Michael says Yemenis living in his Cardiff South and Penarth constituency are concerned about the situation in the country.

1311 Labour's Louise Ellman, chairman of the transport committee, says global "weak spots" at airports need tackling. Mr Brown says the UK is giving help.

1309 Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, says co-ordination between agencies is vital and asks Mr Brown to look at setting up a national security council. The PM says the cabinet secretary is to report on intelligence co-ordination.

1307 Tory Ben Wallace says there is no technology capable of detecting "cavity bombs" inside human bodies and says that more funding is needed so methods of detecting such bombs can be developed. Mr Brown replies that science spending has doubled over the last decade.

1305 A third former home secretary, Jacqui Smith, asks that a commitment to the E-borders scheme is maintained. Mr Brown says checks 24 hours before people boarding UK-bound planes (including those passing through airports in transit) are an important part of the government's efforts.

1303 Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell says complex terror threats need more resources and asks if, as public funds will be restricted, intelligence agencies will get the necessary money. Mr Brown says such funding has been trebled.

1302 Another former home secretary, Labour's John Reid, urges the prime minister to continue to "seek consensus" and explain to the public that, though they will be inconvenienced by anti-terror measures, they will "ultimately" improve their safety.

1259 Labour MP and former home secretary David Blunkett says the judiciary should suggest alternatives to anti-terror control orders, rather than simply "striking them down" in court.

1257 Mr Brown says his job is to help Yemen's "legitimate government" and to help it make sure people there do not look to al-Qaeda to vent their grievances.

1256 Mr Clegg says getting a "balance" between liberty and anti-terror efforts must be the government's aim.

Nick Clegg
1255 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says more European co-operation is needed to maintain people's safety from terrorism. He asks how terrorists in Yemen can be marginalised.

1253 Mr Brown says de-radicalisation efforts have to be made abroad, such as in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as in the UK.

1252 Mr Brown says the government is investing a "huge" amount of money to ensure body scanners improve. They are not "fool-proof" but can get better, Mr Brown says, and states that other countries need to make such an investment.

1249 The Tory leader urges the PM to admit the government's attempt to introduce 42 days' "detention without trial" for terror suspects was a "politically motivated mistake".

1248 Mr Cameron calls for a "proper border force".

David Cameron
Conservative leader David Cameron says the Detroit bomber was "radicalised" in the UK, meaning that efforts to fight this sort of activity must be tackled domestically. He asks whether body scanners would have prevented the UK citizen who boarded a Detroit-bound flight at Amsterdam from doing so.

1245 The government will continue to be vigilant over terrorism, Mr Brown tells MPs.

1244 There will be a "special meeting" on Yemen in London next week, the PM says.

1243 The PM says the Afghanistan-Pakistan border remains the number one area of terrorist threats to the UK, but that other places, such as Yemen and Somalia, must be monitored.

1242 The UK's three intelligence agencies are working together to tackle threats posed by air passengers before they arrive in the country, Mr Brown says. He also says he will hold talks with EU leaders for more info sharing - including on people travelling within the European Union member countries.

1241 Mr Brown says the UK wants to help countries with "weaknesses" of airport security.

1241 The prime minister says that direct flights from Yemen to the UK will be suspended.

1241 Mr Brown says that, by the end of the year, all passengers coming to the UK will be checked before they arrive in the UK, using the E-borders system.

Iain Watson
1239 From BBC political correspondent Iain Watson: PM's questions began on the moral high ground, with the parties uniting around the need to help Haiti, then descended a little into uneasy and uncomfortable divisions over how much to say about crimes against children in Doncaster; it then fell into light-hearted abuse between Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown over Cadbury's but soon took the express elevator to the ninth circle of parliamentary hell - most of the 'second half' was dominated by pre-prepared pre-election posturing with Labour highlighting the Conservatives' plans for a tax break for marriage - here the PM's lines, such as "tied up in in knots", were probably better on the page than when delivered. Labour's polling suggests the Conservatives are vulnerable on this and on inheritance tax. But there was also time for a Labour backbencher to highlight his own party's divisions over whether to put a pledge on electoral reform into the manifesto. And the PM was also challenged for a second week on when he would give evidence at the Iraq inquiry. Expect more of the same next week.

The Daily Politics' analysis of PMQs with Jo Coburn, Andrew Neil, Nick Robinson, Lord Tebbit and John Denham

1238 Mr Brown says the Home Office watch list will be expanded and that more information will be shared with other governments fighting terrorism. He promises a "no-fly list" and greater screening of entrants to the UK.

1236 Mr Brown says the government is to bring in further measures following the attempted bombing of a transatlantic flight by al-Qaeda members.

1235 Tory Andrew Rosindell asks whether Mr Brown will put a cap on immigration. The PM says the points system currently in place will stay. That ends PM's questions for another week. Now it's time for Mr Brown's statement on counter-terrorism.

1234 Mr Brown agrees with Labour's Martin Salter that he backs a permanent memorial to a Reading man killed in World War I.

1233 Tory Michael Fabricant says a 200-year-old dam in his constituency has started to leak and that if it collapses people could die. He urges the PM to act. Mr Brown says he will do so, but quips that Mr Fabricant is making the case for public expenditure.

1231 Mr Brown says he has given a commitment for a referendum on introducing the "alternative vote" system after the next general election.

1230 Labour's Betty Williams asks another easy question - this time on child poverty. Cue further attacks on the Conservatives by Mr Brown.

Iain Watson
1229 From BBC political correspondent Iain Watson: In recent weeks Gordon Brown has been more fleet of foot at PMQs with some well rehearsed, and some genuinely spontatenous, one liners. Today his best line in response to Nick Clegg was that you can no longer put the words 'liberal' and 'principle' together but the Lib Dem leader sought to discomfort the prime minister not by simply bewailing the sale of Cadbury's but the fact that essentially a state owned bank - RBS - had underwritten the American bid which could lead to the loss of British jobs.

1228 More jokes about the Tories and marriage. Mr Brown uses a question about tying the knot to say the Conservatives are "tied up in knots". He then reads an old statement by shadow business secretary Ken Clarke, to hoots from his own benches. The Speaker moves to restore order.

Gordon Brown
On to the Iraq inquiry, Mr Brown says he will give evidence at any stage when he is asked to do so, whether this is before or after the general election.

1227 After a friendly question from Labour's David Chaytor, Mr Brown praises the government's efforts to restrict the level of unemployment.

1226 Tory Gregory Barker says the government is "weak and incoherent", in the words of a former senior civil servant. He is cut short by the Speaker. Mr Brown makes a joke about Tory policy on married couples' allowance. He launches into some electioneering, saying unemployment is down and attacking Conservative economic policy.

Iain Watson
1226 From BBC political correspondent Iain Watson: David Cameron chose to be statesmanlike on Haiti. He had emailed Conservative supporters asking them to donate to the relief effort and was determined not to be divisive. So he simply asked for an update which gave Gordon Brown an opportunity to highlight how closely he was working with President Obama to co-ordinate the international effort. In the current febrile pre-election period it appears to take a natural disaster to blur party political dividing lines. David Cameron then did mention family policy but not exactly as predicted - pointing out potential failings in child protection in Doncaster. When David Cameron first raised the issue of Baby P in Haringey at Question Time he set off a chain of events which culminated in the sacking of the director of children's services in the borough but also made Gordon Brown look extremely uncomfortable and, critics say, not empathetic enough. Today the prime minister looked more comfortable but David Cameron was able to portray himself as an advocate of openness by calling for publication of the full report and not just a summary of the serious case review into the torturing of the two children in Doncaster. It's a difficult balancing act for the leader of the opposition- there's a fine line between being seen as a protector of children and a politician who's seen to exploit a tragic crime but from the reaction in the house, probably remained on the right side of the line.

1223 Commons Speaker John Bercow makes his now weekly intervention, seeking to hush MPs, who he thinks got too excited during the spats between the PM and the Lib Dem leader.

1222 Mr Clegg asks why the part state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland will lend money for the takeover of Cadbury. Mr Brown says Mr Clegg is abandoning his liberal principles. The Lib Dem says it is "plain wrong" to use taxpayers' money to help the takeover, which will cost British jobs. But the PM says Mr Clegg has nothing to offer on the economic debate.

Nick Clegg
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg expresses his sympathy to the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and the people of Haiti.

1218 Mr Cameron says the torture of two boys in Doncaster shocked the country and that there is danger of a "cover-up". Mr Brown says he has taken Lord Laming's advice, as well as that of organisations dealing with childcare issues.

1216 The Tory leader says the publication of summaries in previous cases - such as that of Baby Peter - has not led to real change. Mr Brown says all relevant professionals he knows recommend that summaries should be published. The lessons of Doncaster need to be addressed, he adds.

1214 Mr Cameron says the report of the Doncaster review should be published in full, rather than the current plan to only publish a summary. Mr Brown says it is important not to "pre-judge" the review and that giving a summary will allow the protection of children's identity.

1212 Mr Cameron moves on to the issue of child care in Doncaster. He says many "warning signs" were missed before the case of two boys torturing two other boys. Mr Brown says a case review is under way. This is likely to demonstrate flaws in the organisation of social services, he adds.

1210 The PM says there are lessons to be learned from Haiti and that the world must have funding to be in place to move at a "moment's notice" when such disasters occur.

1209 Mr Brown says he fears news of further deaths of UK citizens in Haiti may be announced. He tells the Tory leader that the EU has offered 400 million euros to help the country.

David Cameron
Tory leader David Cameron pays tribute to the UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan and the UK people helping efforts in Haiti. He asks what the government is doing to help Haiti. Mr Brown says the UK is sending a boat to help unload supplies to the country and is speaking to US President Barack Obama about aid efforts.

1205 Senior Labour MP Tony Wright calls the takeover of Cadbury by US firm Kraft an "outrage". Mr Brown says he hopes Kraft will allow UK workers to keep their jobs.

1204 Lib Dem frontbencher Danny Alexander says the people of the Highlands will miss out on the transition to broadband internet access. Mr Brown says 95% of the population will be guaranteed access soon. He says that, over time, problems in rural areas should be solved.

1203 Gordon Brown begins by paying tribute to soldiers killed this week in Afghanistan and also pays his condolences to the people of Haiti, following the devastating earthquake.

Iain Watson
1202 From BBC political correspondent Iain Watson: As MPs gather for today's gladiatorial battle the prime minister will no doubt take any opportunity to point to signs of economic recovery and will be helped by today's figures showing unemployment falling slightly. The Conservatives are launching their draft manifesto on families today so David Cameron may want to take this opportunity to highlight how family-friendly a future Conservative government would be, while trying to portray the Labour government as dysfunctional. He may also be tempted to talk about problems in getting funding from the then chancellor Gordon Brown to order military equipment which the former defence secretary Geoff Hoon alluded to during the Iraq inquiry - possibly territory which the Lib Dems will seek to occupy, though they may want to highlight their pledge to help the young unemployed.

Nick Robinson
And we're off. Just before it starts BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells Daily Politics better unemployment figures will allow Mr Brown to say that economists predicted the situation would be worse and predicted that David Cameron will try to avoid the subject.

1157 Some unexpected backing for the world's most powerful man, following an electoral disaster in Ted Kennedy's old Massachusetts Senate seat. Lord Tebbit says he might have voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president, had he been American, even though he is a "right-wing Tory".

1155 International development questions are taking place ahead of PM's questions. The chamber is pretty busy.

Lord Tebbit
Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit tells BBC Two's Daily Politics that David Cameron must be a "leader", rather than a "follower", when it comes to reforming the tax system, including putting policies in place to help sustain families.

1152 Unusually the two MPs at the top of the list to ask the PM a question - other than the Tory and Lib Dem leaders - are both frontbenchers. They are Danny Alexander - Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg's chief-of-staff - and Greg Barker, the Tories' shadow climate change secretary. That should allow both main opposition parties an extra hit. Labour's David Chaytor is next on the list.

1151 We also hear that Gordon Brown is to make a statement on counter-terrorism after PMQs ends at about 1230 GMT.

1150 So, what's on the horizon today, as the pre-election skirmishing between the main parties goes on - and on? Perhaps the debate between Labour and the Tories about family policy? Maybe the rise in inflation this week, or the fall in unemployment? Could former defence secretary Geoff Hoon's appearance before the Iraq inquiry get a mention?

1149 Hello and welcome to our live video and text coverage of prime minister's questions. This week, my colleague Iain Watson will be providing expert analysis. Meanwhile, via BBC Two's Daily Politics, we will get the inside track from former Conservative chairman Lord Tebbit and Communities Secretary John Denham.

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  • Ban on direct flights from Yemen to the UK.
  • Creation of "no-fly" lists for those posing highest risk.
  • List of lower-risk individuals who should be subject to extra screening before coming to UK.
  • Use of body scanners at airports. Greater scrutiny of UK-bound passengers at foreign airports.
  • More co-operation by security agencies.
  • E-borders scheme to extend to all major ports and airports by end of year.


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