The Full Story: PM's Questions


Prime minister's questions: the full session

By Emma Griffiths

1245 We're going to wrap up today's PM's questions live coverage now. Thanks for joining us - and hope you'll come back to this page for the next Cameron v Miliband bout, due on 12 January.

1244 Nick Robinson tells Daily Politics there is a lot of unhappiness on the Tory back benchers on issues like crime and the EU, as well as "personnel" issues - who got jobs and who didn't. David Cameron is not "great with the troops" he says - he does not sit in the tea rooms and slap his MPs on the back. When they are already a bit disgruntled, it means he hasn't got much "in the favour bank". Ed Balls says being in government is hard - both Tories and Lib Dems are having to support difficult decisions.

1243 Rob Harrison tweets: "Nadhim Zahawi MP after #PMQs is suggesting we make St George's and St David's day official bank holidays. Seems like a good idea to me!"

1240 Ed Balls says David Cameron will look back and wish he had been less "gung ho" on the economy - it will all come back on him if things go wrong, he says. Conservative minister Theresa Villiers says it was striking that Ed Miliband did not challenge more on the economy - it's because he doesn't have his own credible plan, she says. Ed Balls passes up the opportunity offered by Daily Politics host to say he wishes he was the shadow chancellor. Has he been talking to Alan Johnson, who is shadow chancellor? Mr Balls jokes that he's lent him some of his text books


Theresa Villiers, Ed Balls and Nick Robinson review PMQs

1238 Labour's Ed Balls tells Daily Politics people are worried about the NHS and EMA (grants) as well - but personally he would rather Mr Miliband had done a second question on the economy.

1236 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says deputy PM Nick Clegg looked "low" and like he'd "rather not be there". The Lib Dem leader, who has been at the heart of protesters' anger over tuition fees was sitting next to David Cameron. Nick Robinson says Mr Miliband "ran away" from detailed challenges on the economy - having raised unemployment as an issue.

1234 Speaker John Bercow didn't seem to intervene today as much as he normally does. A good sign? In football the best referees are said to be the ones you never notice... Anyway, the session's over now - among the last couple of questions was one about "extreme Islamism" being exported from the UK following events in Sweden - Mr Cameron says the government has to ask how young men in Britain get radicalised.

1233The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: So what did we learn? Nick Clegg's to make a statement on asylum seekers' children in detention centres. The PM's sticking to his pre-election NHS spending pledge. And in a world of complex politics and grave issues, you can still get a laugh from your opponent's haircut from time to time.

1232The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: That was Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom who raised the high speed rail line. She's not alone. At least two ministers and two whips whose constituencies will be affected feel similarly - but there's no vote until the end of the parliament.

1231 A Labour MP raises comments by a Tory peer in which he suggested welfare cuts would giving an "incentive to breed" - Mr Cameron says they were unacceptable. He goes on to answer another question, saying he is committed to high speed rail as a way of breaching the North-South divide, although he accepts local concerns along the route.

1231 Michael White tweets: "PMQs social mobility challenge from York's Labour MP. Dave says he believes in it too, Labour failed. We'll see."

1230 Andrew Elliott tweets: "Funniest line I've heard in a long time! Brilliant. RT @cateymaxx: #pmqs gold from Cam "There are times I think I'm opposite Basil Brush""

1228 SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell asks about helping the Northern Ireland economy through a cut to corporation tax and Tory MP Sajid Javid asks about the Mercian Regiment being honoured in his own constituency. Labour's Hugh Bayley raises the education maintenance allowance again and the effect on his constituency. Mr Cameron says he accepts the government has got to do more to help people get from the bottom to the top. He says he is committed to helping people "get on in life". Tory Mike Freer asks about Holocaust Memorial Day and whether the government will contribute to an Auschwitz memorial. Mr Cameron says they will.

1225 Chris Ruane asks about a rumour that the Lib Dems will move a writ for the by-election for Phil Woolas's Oldham East seat for 13 January - something that would deny people a politics-free Christmas and New Year. Mr Cameron asks: "Do I gather that the party opposite is frightened of an election?" - to much appreciative shouting of approval from his own side.

1223The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: The PM looks to his notes as he makes the case for tuition fees. His side has won that argument in Parliament but Labour aren't about to let the topic drop.

1222 After a reference to the "debt of gratitude" Britain owes to the Gurkhas, Mr Cameron is challenged by Labour's Ronnie Campbell about plans for a "war chest" before next year's local elections. Mr Cameron seems confused about what the question actually was - he goes through plans for tuition fees and dealing with the deficit.

1220 Lib Dem Malcolm Bruce defends the postal service - Mr Cameron pays tribute to postal workers over Christmas. Labour's David Hamilton says in Scotland and the North of England the only people still delivering are the Royal Mail - private companies are offloading post due to the weather, he suggests. He's opposed to plans to part-privatise Royal Mail. Mr Cameron points out Labour brought in the plans in the last Parliament.

1219 A question from Labour MP and Spurs fan David Lammy about plans for the club to move - Mr Cameron says he prefers to "stay out of international football management", a reference to England's failed 2018 World Cup bid that he was involved in.

1217 Backbench Labour MP John McDonnell asks about children of asylum seekers being held in detention over Christmas - Mr Cameron says the deputy PM will make a statement tomorrow about "how we're going to end this scandal". Tory Edward Leigh asks about Merlin helicopters, following defence cuts. Mr Cameron lists the various defence capabilities Britain will still have and says the Navy will be "fit for purpose".

1216 Daniel Furr tweets: "Ed's questions are very sporadic and no logic in them. He seems to be all over the place #pmqs"

1216 Labour's Joan Ruddock is annoyed that a Job Centre in her area is being closed down - "disgrace" shout Labour MPs. Mr Cameron says the government is being fair and helping those who need help the most. Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi asks about cancer survival rates, the PM thanks him for raising it and says the government will put the money in to make sure improvements happen.

1215The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: There was a bit of an early Christmas choir there with Ed Miliband's backbenchers chanting "broken" as he listed the commitments he believed hadn't been met by the PM. The big strategies are simple. Ed says you can't trust David. David says Ed can't make up his mind.

1214 Mr Cameron's final response to Mr Miliband this year is to suggest Labour started the year with a "dithering" leader with no answers on the economy and had ended the year with a leader with the same attributes. A Tory MP shouts out "Michael Foot" across the chamber. Mr Miliband sits back and things quieten down as MPs' questions continue.

1212 Mr Miliband gets a bit of heckling as he asks about plans to scrap the education maintenance grant. Mr Cameron refers to Ed Miliband's pantomime horse joke, saying in pantomime terms that "it won't be long before he's hearing: 'Look behind you'". The Labour leader continues with the "broken promises" theme - and his backbenchers chant alongside him as he lists various pledges he says have been broken.

1210The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: That Basil Brush reference was presumably a dig at Ed Miliband's tightly cropped but somewhat pointy hair style.

1209 Mr Miliband suggests the government criticised "top down reorganisations" before the election but that is what they are doing with the NHS. He says the message is clear - when it comes to the NHS, "you can't trust the Tories". Mr Cameron says it is like dealing with Basil Brush - which is appreciated by his backbenchers. He goes on to say Labour has no commitment to protect NHS spending. Mr Miliband suggests policy is being driven by the "back end of the pantomime horse" - a dig at Nick Clegg. He moves on to the issue of students

1208 Mr Miliband says the health select committee doesn't agree with Mr Cameron's point - and doesn't miss an opportunity to have a dig at the PM over "airbrushed" election posters. Mr Cameron fires back saying Labour is "committed to cutting the NHS". Mr Miliband suggests Mr Cameron "doesn't do detail" - Tory MPs laugh.

1208The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: It's significant the PM says he's "confident" there will be real terms - ie above inflation - increases in health spending. If inflation continues to climb that could mean having to spend more than he's planned.

1207The Labour leader presses on with another question on the economy - this time tackling a promise for a real terms increase in health spending. Mr Cameron goes back to the "bystander" comment - he says complacency is having "no answers" and suggests Mr Miliband is "talking down" the economy. He goes on to say the NHS budget will increase by £10bn in this Parliament. He's "confident" the government will meet its pledge on real terms increases.

1205The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: The PM often accuses Ed Miliband of having nothing to say on the economy. So it's no coincidence he began on unemployment figures.

1203 Mr Cameron echoes the Labour leader's tribute to British troops in Afghanistan. He says he is concerned about the rise in unemployment but the government is launching a "back to work programme". He says the figures are mixed - because fewer people are claiming JobSeekers' Allowance and vacancies are increasing. Mr Miliband suggests the PM paints himself as an "innocent bystander" - to some laughter from Labour MPs.

1201First question is from a Labour MP on cuts. Mr Cameron fires back with his plans for education spending. Tory Mark Reckless asks about help for Ireland - the PM uses it as an opportunity to say the government is taking Britain out of the "danger zone". Mr Miliband starts by paying tribute to troops in Afghanistan at Christmas. As expected, he raises the issue of rising unemployment.

1200 BBC political editor Nick Robinson wonders whether Ed Miliband will quiz Mr Cameron about the economy - amid reports that Gus O'Donnell has been looking into a "plan B" if there's a sharp downturn. The government is desperate not to look like they've lost their nerve, Nick Robinson says, but Mr Miliband knows the PM will suggest Labour doesn't have a "plan A". In the Commons, Mr Cameron is on his feet

1159 The BBC's Ross Hawkins says: Ed Miliband faces the Prime Minister having just hired a pair of spin doctors from the newspapers. They start in the New Year. Mr Miliband has one last pop at the PM before then.

1156 In the Commons, the noise levels are rising as MPs fill up the benches. Owen Paterson is taking questions on Northern Ireland. David Cameron is already in his seat and George Osborne has just joined him. Ken Clarke is also on the front bench.

1151 Josh Blacker tweets: "Mark Reckless is on order paper for #PMQs - he was a tuition fee rebel, so will he make life difficult for Cameron this lunchtime?"

1150 Lib Dem Lorely Burt joins the Daily Politics discussion. She doesn't agree with Labour's claim that the Lib Dems are the Conservatives' "human shield" for cuts. She says the party has got two thirds of its policies into the coalition agreement with the Tories - such as raising the income tax threshold. Ed Balls suggests David Cameron will be "smiling this Christmas".

1146 Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls says it is "great" to see Ed Miliband as party leader. He says New Labour "was 1990s" but it is important not to ditch its "insight". He did not agree with Lord Kinnock's comments when Mr Miliband won the leadership that "we've got our party back".

1144 Does Justice Secretary Ken Clarke have a fight on his hands with his own backbenchers over his plans to cut the number of people in prison? For the Tories Theresa Villiers says Mr Clarke is not saying "prison doesn't work in any circumstances" - he wants to make it work better. It's about tackling crime, she says. Labour's Lord Reid thinks his party should be "to the right" of Mr Clarke on these issues. Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls appears to agree - although he says it is "not about positioning". He says Tory backbenchers don't think Mr Clarke's policy adds up.

1133 The barricades are still out in Westminster after last week's tuition fees protest and the controversial policy may well get another airing in the Commons later. Among other issues which might crop up are Andrew Lansley's big changes for the NHS, top civil servant Sir Gus O'Donnell's reported "plan B" for the economy and the news today that unemployment rose in the three months to October.

1130Welcome to our weekly live coverage of prime minister's questions, the last one before Christmas. Ahead of the event itself we will be joining the Daily Politics for some political discussion with Labour's Ed Balls and Conservative Theresa Villiers.

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