Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Wednesday, 9 June 2010 11:42 UK

Prime Minister's questions: The Full Story



By Emma Griffiths

1340 And we'll wrap it up there - not as many mentions of cuts in PM's questions as had been expected. Thanks for all your comments - it doesn't seem that some of you were too impressed by the idea of Mr Cameron flying the English flag over Downing Street. We'll be back for PM's questions next Wednesday - by then we should know how Diane Abbott's entry into the next stage of the Labour leadership election is influencing the contest.

1335 A quick round-up of stories and coverage by other websites. In his Telegraph blog former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit says the leading Labour leadership hopefuls are trying to "outbid each other on immigration". Andrew Sparrow, on the Guardian's blog, points out that David Miliband's support for Ms Abbott does not include spelling her name right - he called her "dianne" on his Twitter page .

e-mail sent in by reader
1327 Odd that Diane Abbott's appearances on This Week will have to stop as "it would not be fair to the other candidates". BBC didn't seem to think that excluding SNP and Plaid from the leadership debates was unfair. Doug, Edinburgh

e-mail sent in by reader
1324 Completely agree with Tracey, Llanelli Wales. Only the Union Jack should fly above Westminster as it is the houses of parliament for the UK and NI. This situation could be resolved, in part, if an English assembly existed. Russell, Edinburgh, Scotland

e-mail sent in by reader
1323 Hi Tracey (see 1249) - Wales qualifying for the World Cup is not something you are going to have t worry about any time soon lol
Paul, London

1321 David Lammy - the first MP to nominate Diane Abbott, is pleased she's got through in the leadership race and says it is a "breakthrough moment for the Labour Party". "I have no doubt that the debate over the coming weeks will be richer for it."

1318 Harriet Harman's office has released a comment from her about the leadership contest. She says four million people will be able to vote in "the biggest and most widespread election of any political party or any organisation in this country". She also says it will be "engaging and energising" - Ms Abbott's last-minute success in getting through should help guarantee that

1316 Lord Myners' comments are raised again - the government loves to refer to Liam Byrne's now infamous letter on departing as Chief Secretary to the Treasury that there was "no money left". Former City minister Lord Myners seems to be the new most-quoted former minister. Unsurprisingly, Hilary Benn doesn't agree with him.

1313 Communities Secretary Eric Pickles suggests Diane Abbott could be the "Margaret Thatcher of the Labour Party" - again, I doubt Ms Abbott will appreciate these sorts of plaudits!

1308 Hilary Benn has headed over to the the BBC Radio 4 World at One Studio, along with Conservative minister Eric Pickles. Mr Benn says the fact that five out of six candidates showed the current system "worked" - amid suggestions it was drawn up to keep the Left out of leadership ballots. He says Ed Miliband is the best candidate and is a great "unifier".

1305 Andy Burnham is also through in the Labour leadership race - he had needed two morenominations this morning. Former Home Secretary David Blunkett is among his backers. Among those pleased that Diane Abbott has secured enough backers is the GMB union boss Paul Kenny who says it will ensure a better debate as Ms Abbott will be "strident in her views" and offer differences on issues like nuclear and privatisation. BBC correspondent Norman Smith says there was an "almost audible sigh of relief" that she got through - to avoid accusations the race would be a "non contest" between very similar candidates.

1300 It's official and on the Labour Party website, Ms Abbott is through to the next stage of the Labour leadership race. Her rival for the job David Miliband has indeed nominated her, as has Jack Straw, Phil Woolas and Chris Bryant.

1258 Former Labour cabinet minister Hilary Benn says Diane Abbott's candidacy in the leadership race will be "a opportunity for a good debate and a good argument". However she will have to give up her weekly appearance on the BBC's This Week programme, presenter Andrew Neil says, otherwise it would not be fair to the other candidates.

1255 A row about foxes in the Daily Politics studio. Hilary Benn says hunting with dogs is an issue of "animal cruelty" and the ban should be in place - he says he would be surprised to see a vote in the Commons on repealing the law any time soon. Minister Nick Herbert says it is perfectly reasonable to give MPs a vote on the issue but says there are other priorities. He says there are strong feelings on either side. Campaigner - and former Queen guitarist - Brian May suggests foxes were deliberately imported into the Isle of Wight to be hunted in the early 20th Century. Mr Herbert points out he wasn't around then.

David Cameron
1252 A quick round-up of some of Mr Cameron's announcements at PM's questions - a full public inquiry is to be held into standards of care at Stafford Hospital, the chief constable of Cumbria has written to the president of Acpo - which represents police chiefs - asking for a police review on firearms licensing, and police firearms response tactics. He said a £20m grant to Nissan to support electric cars production in the UK is to go ahead.

1250 BBC political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg says Ms Abbott is going through - alongside Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and David and Ed Miliband. She says even those MPs who do not back Ms Abbott would be pleased as her apperance in the contest would "shake things up a bit" as she comes from a different wing of the Labour Party to the other contenders.

e-mail sent in by reader
1249 Can I ask the question as an English woman living in Wales - would the primeminister put a welsh flag up if wales was playing - please remind him he is the pm for the whole of the uk!
Tracey, Llanelli Wales

1247 Diane Abbott has made it onto the Labour leadership ballot paper - the BBC understands

e-mail sent in by reader
1246 Why can't the Speaker give the tributes once at the start of PMQ on behalf of the whole house to avoid the repetition that I thought would end with the new regime?
L Swann,

1245 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says he was surprised spending cuts did not really come up at PM questions. He says it suggests the Tories want the argument, to get the public on side, but for the moment the Labour Party was keeping its head down.

1243 There is a lot of speculation that Diane Abbott has the 33 nominations to get her through to the Labour leadership contest - but nothing is confirmed yet. The Labour Party website has removed the 16 nominations from John McDonnell, who withdrew from the race earlier

1241 Still no offciial word, by the way, on the Labour leadership nominations. Back in the studio, Nick Herbert says ministers have been concentrating on the initial £6.2bn of cuts and are waiting for the Budget statement to "take the next steps".

Nick Robinson
1240 Back over at the Daily Politics studio - BBC political editor Nick Robinson says, on cuts, we won't know much until the autumn. The Budget will just be overall spending plans, but he says he knows it will contain some cuts in public spending. He predicts some welfare changes in the Budget and possibly a further freeze of public sector pay.

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn analyse Prime Minister's Questions with Nick Robinson, Nick Herbert and Hilary Benn

1236 Back onto gun laws. Mr Cameron says Britain has strict laws about people who keep guns at home. He recalls being on the home affairs committee and asking about how many legally held guns found their way onto the black market - the answer was very few. He says government's cannot legislate for a switch flipping in someone's head. MPs have started to make their way out as Andrew Lansley stands up to give a statement on a public inquiry into Staffordshire hospital.

Carole Walker
1235 From BBC political correspondent Carole Walker: Once again David Cameron seemed confident and in control of the whole occasion. He scarcely glanced at his notes throughout. The lengthy leadership contest is not helping Labour's efforts to mount some effective lines of attack on the new government.

1233 Tory MP Claire Perry asks the inevitable question about the deficit, laying the blame on Labour. Mr Cameron is happy to oblige with his arguments about the importance of dealing with the debt. Nadhim Zahawi, a Tory MP, suggests Mr Cameron fly the England flag over Downing Street for the duration of the World Cup. Mr Cameron says it will do so "at no additional cost to the taxpayer" - to cheers from MPs. And he says he hopes MPs from throughout the UK will say "come on England".

1232 pipL27 tweets: Good on Caroline Flint for #PMQ on anonymity in rape cases Read pipL27's tweets

1230 Labour's Kelvin Hopkins asks about European fish stocks and asks Mr Cameron to seek the abandonment of the common fisheries policy. Mr Cameron jokes he would expect that question from a Tory MP. He says everyone would recognise the policy had not worked either in supporting fishermen or saving fish stocks. He says the coalition will "take forward those negotiations".

e-mail sent in by reader
1229 What strikes me is that this is much more constructive PMQs than was the case when Brown was PM. David Cameron does at least acknowledge good work by opposition MPs.
Patrick, Stratford upon Avon, United Kingdom

1229 Not sure what happened to the end of "punch and judy politics". The PM has made irrelevant comments and called opposition MPs names on numerous occasions.
Olly, London

1229The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg tweets: Lord Myners himself is in the gallery looking generally unamused Read Laura's tweets

1229 Labour MP Tony Cunningham - whose constituency includes west Cumbria - asks about work being done in the aftermath of the shootings last week. Mr Cameron pays tribute to the work the MP has done and that done by the local hospital which he said "coped magnificently".

Carole Walker
1229 From BBC political correspondent Carole Walker: Harriet Harman struggled to land a blow. The prime minister swept aside her concerns about problems with the electoral register. Then he used her question about CCTV cameras to counter attack, accusing the Labour Party of becoming increasing authoritarian. The fact that he had not been asked about immigration did not stop him firing off an apparently prepared jibe at Labour leadership contender Ed Balls whom he labelled the new Alf Garnett of British politics.

1228 Lib Dem Greg Mulholland asks about the guidance on deporting asylum seekers to Baghdad - he says Britain should remain a bastion for people seeking refuge from political persecution. Mr Cameron says he will look at the point but advances are being made in Iraq. He says British soldiers fought and died to make it a more stable country so people could return.

1227 Wiltshire MP James Gray asks if a war memorial currently at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, might be relocated to Wootton Bassett in his constituency, which is where troops travel through when they come home. Mr Cameron pays tribute to the people of Wootton Bassett, who line the road as soldiers' bodies are flown home, as "heroes".

e-mail sent in by reader
1226 I disagree with involving the general public with government decision making we have elected them as our MPs just get on and do the job. Graham, Selby, North Yorkshire

1225 Former Labour minister Caroline Flint gets up to ask about plans to give men accused of rape anonymity. Mr Cameron says she had made a good speech on the issue previously but there are problems with the current system - which he says has resulted in some suicides.

1223 The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg tweets: PM calls Ed Balls the new 'Alf Garnet' of UK politics in ref to comments about immig - huge laugh on his benches and some labour smirks. Read Laura's tweets

1222 A Labour MP stands up to ask about a school in her constituency and whether its rebuilding plans will go ahead. Mr Cameron suggests former Business Secretary Lord Mandelson had gone around the country with a "giant chequebook" making promises, in many cases in Labour marginal seats. He finishes by saying fortunately for Lord Mandelson someone else is now getting out their chequebook - to pay for his memoirs. Labour MPs seem pretty annoyed, the Speaker intervenes to calm them down.

1221 Tory MP Jonathan Evans also makes reference to the Lord Myners comments I mentioned earlier - he gets shouted down by Labour MPs. Mr Cameron welcomes him back to the Commons and says Lord Myners had "put his finger on the button" with his comments about a government spending more than it raised in taxation. "What a pity he didn't say it in office when he had a chance to do something about it," Mr Cameron says.

1220 cowrin tweets: Just turned round from keyboard to discover Harriet Harman is wearing camouflage. #pmq Read cowrin's tweets

1220 Labour's Richard Burden asks a question about housing developments in Longbridge in his Birmingham constituency. Mr Cameron says housing commitments made by the previous government "simply weren't funded".

1219 Mr Cameron has a pop at Labour leadership contender Ed Balls - suggesting he has become an "Alf Garnett" figure with his comments on immigration. Mr Balls does not look amused.

e-mail sent in by reader
1219 Harman thinks equal-sized constituencies wouldn't be fair. She clearly has an interesting spin on the word "fair".
Cronan, London, Uk

1217 Mr Cameron says he backs CCTV cameras but the level of surveillance has got too high. He suggests Labour had "given up on civil liberties" and points out Ms Harman used to head a civil liberties group, adding "that was a long time ago". Ms Harman refers to "Theresa" - to some murmurs from MPs who think she is talking about the home secretary. Ms Harman corrects them, it's Teresa from the "Poets Corner estate" she's talking about - the Teresa who knows how needed CCTV is, she says.

1215 A rap on the knuckles for some MPs, who Speaker John Bercow suggests are talking among themselves and setting a bad example to their newer colleagues. Ms Harman moves on to talk about the "surveillance society" - but Mr Cameron goes back to the previous question, saying there was a "whiff of special pleading" about her question.

1213 Ms Harman says young people, black people and people who rent homes are most likely not to be registered to vote. She says "you can't have equal constituencies based on an unequal register". She gets a cheer from Labour MPs. But Mr Cameron says Labour had 13 years to sort out voter registration - and gets cheers from his own side. He says the MP for the Isle of Wight has double the number of constituents that some Labour MPs have. Ms Harman says he's not listening to the arguments which is "downright unfair".

Carole Walker
1212 From BBC political correspondent Carole Walker: Harriet Harman's first question about the gun laws reflected the sombre mood after the minute's silence for the victims of the shootings in Cumbria. It is certainly unusual to hear the deputy Labour leader saying she fully supports the prime minister's approach.

Harriet Harman
1210 Ms Harman says she "fully supports" the PM's answer and his visit to Cumbria. She goes on to ask about concerns about people who are eligible to vote, but are not registered to do so. She's concerned about Tory plans to change boundaries. Mr Cameron says he wants to see "individual voter registration" as there's been an increase in fraud - but he thinks it is important to get "equal sized constituencies" across the country. Ms Harman says there is a danger he will be making the system "less fair, not more fair" - prompting some laughter from Tory MPs.

1208 Mr Cameron says they have to be clear about the "full facts of the case" but says "of course" the Home Office will look again at the issue and announces there will be a police review on firearms laws and police firearms tactics.

1207 Harriet Harman stands up and repeats tributes to those soldiers killed in Afghanistan. MPs are silent. She also joins the PM in expressing her sympathy with the victims in Cumbria and asks for an update on what the government is doing now - are there any plans to reconsider the regulation of guns, she asks.

1205 Mr Cameron says there is a "debate" in Wales about powers in the assembly but people are also interested in the "real issues" of housing and jobs. Lib Dem MP - and party deputy contender Tim Farron - asks the next question. He asks about cancer treatment commitments - Speaker John Bercow interrupts him as the question is too long. Mr Cameron says he understands concerns about keeping NHS services local and says he is happy to set up a meeting with his coalition colleague.

1202 Mr Cameron is flanked by Nick Clegg and William Hague. Labour MP Albert Owen has the first question - it's about government relations with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies. He wants a referendum this autumn on greater powers for the Welsh Assembly. Mr Cameron repeats his hope for a "genuine respect agenda" but says a referendum will take place next year. Mr Owen shakes his head.

David Cameron
1201 MPs are back in their seats. Mr Cameron says that as people gather to remember the victims of the shootings, it was right the Commons remembered them. He goes on to pay tribute to soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

1200 The whole House of Commons is on its feet in silence - to remember those killed in the shootings in Cumbria last week

1159 The Commons is full - MPs are still asking questions of Cabinet Office minister Nick Hurd. David Cameron is in his seat, sat next to Commons leader Sir George Young. John Bercow jokes about Mr Hurd's "pithy" response to a Tory MP's question. MPs are now observing one minute's silence

1158 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says cuts are the "defining issue" and are likely to be raised by Harriet Harman at PM questions.

Carole Walker
1156 From BBC political correspondent Carole Walker: The government's plans for far-reaching cuts to the public services to tackle the deficit are an obvious target for the interim Labour leader, after the former Chancellor Alistair Darling accused the government of scaremongering to justify ideologically driven cuts. But Harriet Harman may prefer to stick to her long-standing agenda of equality.

1154 Labour's Hilary Benn responds to Mr Persson's remarks saying governments have to get the timing right on cuts. Conservative Nick Herbert says Labour is "increasingly isolated" in its caution about the need to take action to reduce the deficit now.

1151 Former Swedish PM Goran Persson has some words of warning - the government that has to make cuts will not be "loved" but may win "respect". But he says "it is better to lose if you have done something, compared to if you have done nothing. I was not loved but I gained respect." He says it took eight years before he was rewarded for the cuts he had to implement. But he says if you wait too long the "window of opportunity will be lost".

1148 Back in the Daily Politics studio, the panel has moved onto cuts. Are things really worse than we knew about during the election campaign? Minister Nick Herbert says "eye wateringly large sums of money" are being paid out just on debt interest. Hilary Benn is asked about Lord Myners' comments that there was "nothing progressive about a government that consistently spends more than it can raise in taxation". Mr Benn disagrees. He also says Mr Herbert is ducking the fact that last year's deficit was actually lower than it was predicted to be - at £145bn, not £163bn.

1145 The other big story of the moment is the cuts that David Cameron has already said will affect "our whole way of life". Apparently the "efficiency and reform group" - set up by the government to help find savings across government - will meet at 3pm. Danny Alexander and Francis Maude will co-chair it. Expect cuts to come up at PM's questions.

1142 Minister Nick Herbert says there is a sense of "deja vu" from the Labour leadership contest for the Conservatives - who have been through several leaders in the past 13 years. He says it would be "fantastic to have Diane Abbott" on the ballot paper - although, as he's a Conservative, she may not appreciate his support.

1139 Hilary Benn is talking about the Labour leadership race. He says he hopes Diane Abbott can get onto the ballot paper but says there has to be a threshold - after John McDonnell suggested the rules were a "mess". He's backing Ed Miliband but says there are still a lot of Labour MPs yet to nominate and he wants a wide selection of candidates. Asked why all the remaining contenders went to either Oxford or Cambridge, he jokes: "It's not a requirement, as you know very well indeed."

1134 Minister Nick Herbert is talking about "garden grabbing" - when developers build homes on gardens. He says the Labour approach to house building was "centrist" and very "top down". Local authorities should be able to take the decision, he says. Hilary Benn says there had been a problem in a "relatively small number of areas" but Britain needed homes and restricting land available could increase pressure on the Green Belt.

1132 PM's questions today will begin with a minute's silence to mark the deaths of 12 people in Cumbria last week, shot dead by taxi driver Derrick Bird. Before then is the BBC's Daily Politics, where minister Nick Herbert and shadow environment secretary Hilary Benn are guests.

1130 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of prime minister's questions. We'll also be staying across the Labour leadership race, as nominations are due to close at 1230 BST. Will Diane Abbott make it onto the ballot paper? Fellow left-winger John McDonnell pulled out of the race earlier to give her a shot at getting through and David Miliband says he will nominate her. But whether she can make it to the 33 MPs' nominations needed remains to be seen.

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