Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 12:57 UK

The Full Story: PM's questions

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Watch the full session of prime minister's questions

By Justin Parkinson

1253 That ends our live coverage of the first prime minister's question session of the autumn. It was rendered less of an occasion by the absence of David Cameron and Harriet Harman, but they are likely to be back next Wednesday. Please join us again then.

James Landale
1249 From BBC deputy political editor James Landale: Nick Clegg will feel content with his performance. No gaffes, on top of his brief, took on Labour over its responsibility for the deficit, gave the media a story by announcing the Chinook crash inquiry. And, most interesting, he secured some hard-won cheers from Tory backbenchers. Only discordant note from Tory MPs Eleanor Laing and Christopher Chope, who had a go at his beloved AV referendum. Real political impact of PMQs, though, had nothing to do with Mr Clegg and everything to do with David Cameron's absence. Labour will have to wait before they can question him directly about Andy Coulson.

1247 Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt tells Daily Politics that, when the phone hacking at the News of the World was revealed, Andy Coulson resigned as editir, despite denying being personally responsible.

1246 The debate on phone hacking will take place on Thursday, following a request from Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant, who claims he was a victim.

1242 Commons Speaker John Bercow has agreed to a debate on the allegations that MPs had their phones hacked by the News of the World, the BBC learns.

Caroline Flint
1241 On Nick Clegg's claim that Gordon Brown called Andy Coulson to commiserate on his resignation as a newspaper editor, Labour's Caroline Flint says that "these things come back to bite you".

Nick Robinson
1239 It was a fairly subdued prime minister's questions session, coming as it did after the last-minute withdrawal of Mr Cameron. BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the focus on Andy Coulson should not come as a surprise. The main parties are all keen to have the support of Rupert Murdoch's News International, for whom Mr Coulson worked as editor of the News of the World, he adds.

1236 Mr Clegg is asked by Tory Christopher Chope whether the Lib Dems will leave the coalition if the bill on reforming the electoral system does not get through parliament. The future of the government does not hinge on just one piece of legislation, he responds.

1233 Labour MP Ian Murray asks for a tribute to the Rotary club in his constituency. Mr Clegg says that it and other organisations raising money to help those affected by floods in Pakistan are doing essential work.

1232 The £80m Sheffield Forgemasters loan was cancelled because it was not affordable. Labour wrote the cheque in its last days in power knowing "it would bounce", he adds.

1230 The deputy PM says holding the electoral reform referendum on the same day as local elections next May will save £30m.

1229 Labour's Nic Dakin says cuts will hit a play scheme in his Scunthorpe constituency and that the planned referendum on electoral reform will cost too much. Mr Clegg accuses Labour of not making a single suggestion on how to make cuts without hitting frontline services.

1227 Labour's Ian Davidson announces it is his birthday. He asks for a present of a couple of aircraft carriers, not to be shared with "some French bloke". He says the UK's contribution to the EU could be cut to fund the country's independent naval fleet. Mr Clegg says he cannot oblige Mr Davidson's gift request.

1224 On the comprehensive spending review, which takes place next month, Mr Clegg is asked what protection there will for Job Centre Plus. He replies that Labour announced £44bn of cuts but never had the "decency or honesty" to say where they would fall.

1223 The coalition is absolutely committed to bringing justice to Equitable Life policy holders, the deputy PM tells MPs.

1221 The government is "profoundly sorry" that the Catholic priest involved in the Claudy bombing which killed nine people in July 1972 was not initially investigated, Mr Clegg says.

Nick Robinson

PMQ analysis: 8 September

1220 Mr Clegg says there will be an independent review of the evidence of the Mull of Kintyre Chinook helicopter crash in 1994.

James Landale
1219 From BBC deputy political editor James Landale: Solid probing by Jack Straw on the Andy Coulson affair but a robust straight bat from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, saying it was a matter for the police. A good gag about how Gordon Brown was the first to commiserate with Mr Coulson when he resigned from the News of the World. And a strong argument that perhaps the war in Afghanistan and the floods in Pakistan were more important. Interesting that Mr Straw focused on Mr Coulson and not the role of the police which is of greater concern to many Labour MPs.

John Bercow
1218 Speaker John Bercow tells MPs to lower the volume level, saying the deputy PM "must be heard".

1218 Senior Tory John Redwood asks about cuts being possible without damaging public services - a pretty easy question. Mr Clegg says not plotting a way out of debt would result in economic stagnation.

1217 On to banks. Mr Clegg responds to a Labour MP that there is a debate going on in government over whether large institutions should be split into retail and investment sections.

1216 Asked about the police officer convicted of assaulting a woman in custody, Mr Clegg says the "highest standards" must be maintained.

1215 Mr Clegg says there is a war in Afghanistan and floods in Pakistan, which are more important and that Mr Straw should "know better". That ends the exchange between the two men, who had little time to prepare following David Cameron's late withdrawal.

1213 Mr Straw continues asking about the Coulson situation. Mr Clegg says he will not "take any lessons" from Labour, given controversies such as over cash-for-honours and former Gordon Brown spokesman Damian McBride.

1212 Mr Straw asks if Mr Coulson was complicit in phone hacking. The deputy PM responds that the police will look at recent allegations and accuses former Home Secretary Alan Johnson of being "pious" on the issue given that he had not referred allegations to Scotland Yard.

1211 Mr Straw repeats his question. Mr Clegg repeats his answer. To laughter, he adds that the first person who called Mr Coulson to commiserate when he resigned from the newspaper was the then Labour PM Gordon Brown.

1209 Mr Straw asks whether Mr Cameron's communications director Andy Coulson was aware of any phone hacking while he was editor of the News of the World. Mr Clegg says Mr Coulson has made it clear that he had no knowledge of the practice.

1207 Labour's shadow justice secretary Jack Straw, standing in for acting leader Harriet Harman, also pays tribute to those killed in Afghanistan. He passes on the opposition's best wishes to the PM, saying David Cameron had made the "right decision" in travelling to see his father, who has fallen ill while on holiday.

1205 Tory Mark Pritchard asks about West Mercia police laying off personnel. He blames the previous Labour government for damaging the public finances and making the necessary. Mr Clegg agrees that it was Labour's fault.

Harriet Harman
1202 Deputy PM Nick Clegg is on his feet. He wishes David Cameron and his family well. Mr Clegg also pays tribute to servicemen who have died in Afghanistan over the summer.

1158 Almost time now. The Commons chamber is pretty full for Wales questions. A few cabinet members are in, including Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

Caroline Flint
1157 Former Europe minister Caroline Flint says many manifesto commitments made by the Conservatives were not included in the coalition agreement, which will be "much discussed in the months ahead".

James Landale
1155 From BBC deputy political editor James Landale: A tough gig for Nick Clegg. Standing in at the last minute for prime ministers' questions is no easy task. He has however got a few more months of office under his belt since his last appearance in July. That should give him a little more of the knowledge and experience that is vital to get through the more unexpected questions. And for Jack Straw, an opportunity: to restore his reputation as a Commons performer after his less than glorious last performance at DPMQs, and to have a last hurrah before he leaves frontline politics.

1154 The Tory manifesto gave voters an "honest sense of direction of travel", Jeremy Hunt says.

Jeremy Hunt
1153 Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt tells Daily Politics the government is looking to increase value for money in public services. The Conservatives have always "made it clear" that they are "more serious" than Labour about cutting the deficit, he adds.

1151 Among the MPs listed to ask questions of Nick Clegg today are Tory Mark Pritchard and James Arbuthnot and Labour's Anne Begg and Gregg McClymont.

1149 Despite Mr Cameron's absence, the economy is likely to loom large in today's session, especially October's spending review, in which the coalition's spending cuts programme will be outlined. Business Secretary Vince Cable is expected to announced reductions in science budgets later today.

1147 BBC deputy political editor James Landale will be giving us his instant analysis of events, while, courtesy of BBC Two's Daily Politics, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former Labour minister Caroline Flint will offer their take on proceedings.

1145 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the first prime minister's questions session since the early summer. David Cameron will not be taking part today, as he has flown to France to be with his father, Ian, who has fallen seriously ill while on holiday. Deputy PM Nick Clegg will stand in.



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