Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 14:33 UK

The Full Story: PM's Questions


By Justin Parkinson

For prime minister's questions analysis from BBC Two's Daily Politics, click here.

1322 OK. That wraps it up for another session of prime minister's questions. Join us again next Wednesday when Nick Clegg fills in for David Cameron for the first time.

1319 It didn't come up at prime minister's questions, but Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's comment suggesting there is no link between rising levels of imprisonment and falling crime gets short shrift from fellow Tory MP Douglas Carswell. On his blog, he argues this is an "example of policy being driven by functionaries at the Department of Justice, rather than Parliament".

1303 Tony Blair's former communications chief Alastair Campbell comments on Lord Mandelson's book. On his Twitter page, he notes: "One sided negative portrayal of GB [Gordon Brown]... odd given he went back to help him get re-elected."

1258 So, when Nick Clegg takes prime minister's questions next week, he becomes the first Liberal Democrat, or Liberal, ever to do so. PMQs, as it is known, did not start until the 1960s, long after the Liberals last held power. Does that make it a historic occasion?

1254 John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, tells Daily Politics, that the coalition, in its benefit reforms, must ensure that poor people get more opportunity, such as going to university.

1252 Topically, MPs are now discussing police numbers. Policing minister Nick Herbert says spending cuts will not necessarily hit provision on the front line.

1247 So, it was a fairly low-key prime minister's questions. Deputy PM Nick Clegg will run the show for the first time next week, while Mr Cameron is busy elsewhere.

1245 Labour's Hazel Blears says the type of politics mentioned in Lord Mandelson's book should be left behind. Her own mention in the memoirs is "brief, which is a mercy", she adds.

1243 THAT book again. The BBC's Nick Robinson says Lord Mandelson's memoirs provide confirmation of much of what journalists have suspected about tensions within Labour for some time - and worse.

1242 Lib Dem Jeremy Browne says professionals need more discretion to deal with urgent cancer cases, rather than relying on targets.

1240 Labour's Hazel Blears says there was no mention of pupils or patients during prime minister's questions. It is to them, rather than education or health professionals, that public services must be accountable, she tells BBC Two's Daily Politics.

Jeremy Browne
1238 Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne says the coalition is trying to give people greater responsibility for their own decisions.

Nick Robinson
1235 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says Mr Cameron looked awkward when discussing the questions on NHS cancer care. He has a light touch but he will have to find a new way of answering tough inquiries, he adds.

1232 Labour's Lindsay Roy says Education Secretary Michael Gove has "failed to do his homework", when giving out details on cancelling school building projects. Mr Cameron replies that, in the week the Mandelson memoirs are serialised, it is not for Labour to "give a lecture on discipline". And that ends Prime Minister's questions for this week.

1229 Mr Cameron says it is an "outrage" that a family in London can claim £2,000 a week in housing benefit, as reported in the press.

1228 Labour's Russell Brown urges the PM not to cut funding for medical research. Mr Cameron calls the Labour front bench "deficit-deniers".

Gary O'Donoghue
1227 From BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue: So much for my predictions. Instead of Afghanistan and the OBR, Hariet harman gave us Northern Ireland and NHS reform. Much agreement on the violence in Belfast over the past three nights - and a clear warning from the prime minister that he expects everyone to cooperate with the police in finding the culprits. But Hariet Harman did manage to press home some advantage on the question of the two week guarantee for cancer patients introduced by the previous government. Would it be scrapped by the coalition? No clear answer to that. The PM's argument is that targets skew clinical priorities and several health targets such as the 48 hour maximum wait for a GP appointment have already gone. The problem for ministers is that a two week guarantee is easy to understand, and if you're going to get rid of it, you need a simple and compelling argument to go in its place. Labour clearly feels they're on good territory here. And what happened to Ms Harman's sixth question? Did she miscount, or did she feel she'd quit while she was ahead?

1226 Labour's Karen Buck, MP for Westminster North, asks why the PM is "terrified" of his children attending local secondary schools. Mr Cameron says he wants "really good" schools and diverse provision, and promises the government will provide these.

1225 The government supports the regular updating of the minimum wage, Mr Cameron says.

1224 The PM says a growing shortage of primary school places will be addressed by the government.

1223 Mr Cameron says there are about 5,000 British troops who are "fully partnered" with Afghan troops and that "we mustn't lose sight of that despite all the difficulties".

1221 A lot MPs have been moaning about the way their expenses system now works. In response to a much cheered question the PM says a properly transparent system of MPs' expenses is needed but adds that IPSA, the body in charge of the new system, needs to "get a grip". This raises cheers from around the House.

1219 Tory Nadine Dorries asks about spending cuts. Will there be a 40% reduction in funding for Brussels, she inquires. Mr Cameron says the coalition will not be "giving up part of the rebate for nothing in return", adding that this is what Labour did.

Lord Mandelson
1217 Lord Mandelson's book gets a mention. Mr Cameron says it transpires that former PM Gordon Brown was "mad, bad and dangerous to know".

1216 Labour's Valerie Vaz gets a welcome from Mr Cameron. He says he hopes she "keeps an eye" on her brother, senior Labour MP Keith Vaz.

1215 The PM says the late Raoul Moat was a "callous murderer" and that there should be no sympathy for him.

1214 Lib Dem Bob Russell asks how charities can have the soon-to-be-implemented increase in VAT refunded to them. Mr Cameron agrees to do look at the issue.

1212 Mr Cameron suggests it is "Labour's great new tactic" to defend NHS bureaucracy. Ms Harman chooses not to ask her last alloted question.

1211 Mr Cameron says money should go on doctors, nurses and treatments, rather than NHS bureaucracy. Ms Harman says the government white paper admits the planned reorganisation will cost money.

John Bercow
1210 Ms Harman asks again about the guarantee of seeing a cancer specialist within two weeks. Mr Cameron asks a question in return, about whether it is Labour's policy to cut NHS funding. Speaker John Bercow urges Ms Harman to stick to debates on government, rather than opposition, policy.

1209 It is now Labour policy to cut NHS funding, Mr Cameron says. Ms Harman ignores the comment, accusing the PM of dodging her question.

1207 Mr Cameron adds that Northern Ireland police have acted with "real restraint". Ms Harman moves on to the government's white paper on the NHS. She asks if cancer patients will keep their "guaranteed right" to see a specialist within two weeks of a GP appointment. The prime minister says targets will remain only where they actually help patients.

Harriet Harman
1205 Labour leader Harriet Harman also pays tribute to service personnel killed in Afghanistan. She asks for an update on the recent violence in Northern Ireland. Mr Cameron says the behaviour has been "completely unacceptable" and that more than 80 police officers have been injured.

1203 Labour's Tom Blenkinsop says small business owners will be hit by the VAT increase, calling it the "real jobs tax". Mr Cameron replies that cuts to corporation tax will help firms.

David Cameron
1202 David Cameron is on his feet. He pays tribute to service personnel killed in Afghanistan. He says a joint investigation into the deaths of three soldiers, apparently at the hands of an Afghan soldier, is under way.

Nick Robinson
1200 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the warning that coalition cuts might lead to a double-dip recession could dominate prime minister's questions.

1158 By the way, it's David Cameron's last prime minister's questions before the summer break. Deputy PM Nick Clegg will step in for last couple of sessions in the lead-up to the recess, which begins towards the end of this month.

1157 The BBC's Carole Walker suggests that big arguments over the economy will dominate prime minister's questions once again today.

1156 Cabinet office minister Francis Maude says the coalition's programme to increase the number of academies represents good value and improves educational choice.

1154 Just over five minutes to go and the Commons chamber is filling up. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley takes his seat.

1152 Before the prime minister takes centre stage, it's Cabinet Office questions. Public sector productivity has fallen in the last 12 years, showing there is a "problem", Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude tells MPs.

Gary O'Donoghue
1150 From BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue: Afghanistan is never far from the minds of MPs, particularly when most prime minister's questions begin with a roll-call of the latest deaths in Helmand. But yesterday's horrific killing of three soldiers by a renegade member of the Afghan National Army will undoubtedly cast a significant shadow over events today. Training the ANA is absolutely central to ISAF's strategy, and Britain is committed to stay in the country until the ANA numbers more than 170,000. that means training a further 50,000 troops, but incidents like this seriously undermine the necessary trust for that to happen. On a more straightforwardly political note, it's unlikely that Harriet Harman will be able to resist raising the comments from Sir Alan Budd - outgoing head of the Office for Budget Responsibility - who expressed some concern yesterday in front of a Commons committee over the way the PM had used some of his data last week. The OBR released some figures a day early on employment and just an hour and a half before PM's questions that proved of assistance to David Cameron, particularly as that morning's newspapers had published some scary Treasury predictions about the levels of public sector job losses. Sir Alan said he was trying to correct a false impression created by the media, but acknowledged he might have been naive in not realising that the timing could be open to interpretation let's say. The OBR will stand or fall on its reputation for independence, so Labour may try and stir up a little more embarrassment on this one today.

Hazel Blears
1149 Labour's Hazel Blears accuses the government of a making "deliberate decision" to take money away from job-creation schemes. She is "very worried", she continues.

1148 Lib Dem Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne tells BBC Two's Daily Politics it is essential to "rebalance" the economy, creating more jobs in the public sector. The coalition has a "hard-headed willingness" to deal with the budget deficit, he adds.

1148 Backbenchers set to ask questions today include Tories Nadine Dorries, David Davies and Stephen Hammond, as well as Labour's Tom Blenkinsop, Lilian Greenwood and Valerie Vaz.

1146 Will Mr Cameron be able to resist a jibe about former Business Secretary Lord Mandelson's memoirs, serialised in a newspaper this week, which suggest terrible divides among the former Labour leadership. I doubt it. Also, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's comments suggesting there is no link between rising levels of imprisonment and falling crime could prompt some comment.

1144 The terrible events in Afghanistan, with three UK soldiers killed on Tuesday by a rogue Afghan soldier, are sure to be mentioned, with David Cameron and Harriet Harman paying tribute. Defence Secretary Liam Fox has also spoken recently about the future of the military and the need for proper funding.

1142 So, what's going on? Well, the latest figures show unemployment fell in the three months to May. It happened on Labour's watch. Might we expect party leader Harriet Harman to mention this?

1140 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of prime minster's questions. BBC correspondent Gary O'Donoghue will provide his expert analysis and, courtesy of BBC Two's Daily Politics, former Labour cabinet minster Hazel Blears and current Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne, will discuss the issues of the day.

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