Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

PMQs: Cameron and Miliband head-to-head over economy

David Cameron and Ed Miliband have clashed over youth unemployment and the economy.

The opposition leader kicked off exchanges at prime minister's questions on 23 November 2011 with a question on youth unemployment.

Mr Cameron accepted the number of young people out of work was "unacceptably high", but pointed out the figure had been rising since 2004 when Labour was in power.

He listed the government's progress on welfare and employment reform as well as on apprenticeships.

But Mr Miliband responded: "Under 13 years of a Labour government youth unemployment never reached one million. It's taken him 18 months to reach that tragic figure."

He claimed youth unemployment had risen by 77% since the coalition scrapped Labour's Future Jobs Fund, and pressed the prime minister on how many young people had been helped by the government's work programme introduced in June.

Mr Cameron told him it would help 120,000 young people not the 80,000 helped under Labour's Future Jobs Fund, and that waiting times for the "most needy young people" would be halved.

Mr Miliband asked why the government would not introduce a bankers bonus tax to create 100,000 youth jobs. But Mr Cameron accused Labour of coming up with nine initiatives to be funded by the policy, quipping: "This is the bank tax that likes to say yes."

Turning to Mr Cameron's comments that cutting UK debt was harder than expected, the Labour leader said Mr Cameron had been warned this would happen.

He claimed unemployment was "a price worth paying" for the government to protect its "failing" plan, warning that one million people would suffer as a result.

Mr Cameron responded there was an "interest rate storm" throughout Europe and it was essential for the UK to maintain its low interest rates, pointing out a 1% rise would add about £1,000 to the average family mortgage.

He added that no other European mainstream party proposed more spending and borrowing - which would be the "height of irresponsibility".

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