Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Thursday, 15 December 2011

Business statement

Shadow Commons leader Angela Eagle and her fellow Labour frontbencher sister, Maria, could teach Ed Miliband about how to manage family relationships, Commons Leader Sir George Young has said.

During the business statement on 15 December 2011 he drew attention to an interview in which the two sisters said they had not had a row in decades.

Quoting from the article he read, "'it doesn't mean we can't disagree but, you know, you're sisters'".

"Given that admirable sense of family affection", Sir George said, prompting the two sisters to share a hug on the frontbench, "I just wonder whether she might not be able to give the leader of her party some advice on how to manage relationships" - a dig at reportedly fractious relations between Ed and his brother David after the two went head-to-head in the battle to become party leader.

Earlier on, Angela Eagle had claimed that relations between the coalition partners were at breaking point.

She pointed to a vote earlier that week in which "all Liberal Democrat ministers and whips, including the deputy leader of House and five members of Cabinet" refused to support a motion "congratulating their own prime minster [for refusing to sign up to an EU-wide treaty change]".

She quoted the ministerial code on collective responsibility which requires ministers to express views "frankly" in the expectation that they can argue freely in private while maintaining a united front when decisions have been reached.

"Isn't it a case that in this government the Liberal Democrats have got it completely the wrong way round: they argue in public but in private they won't stand up to the Tories however much the prime minister humiliates them," she mocked.

Ms Eagle asked Sir George when the prime minister would amend the code to more accurately reflect the "cynically choreographed licensed dissent" which was becoming "more obvious by the day"?

Sir George responded that the relationship between David Cameron and Nick Clegg was "stronger" than that between former Labour PM Tony Blair and the-then chancellor Gordon Brown, "when they were both actually in the same party".

"We have several autobiographies which chronicle the weak relationship between [them]," he remarked.

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