Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Wednesday, 14 March 2012

NHS and unemployment dominate PMQs

Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman have clashed over the latest unemployment figures and the government's NHS reforms.

Mr Clegg was standing in for David Cameron - who is in the United States on official business - at prime minister's questions on 14 March 2012.

Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, said the unemployment statistics showed young people and women were being hardest hit by the government's economic policies.

She claimed the Liberal Democrats had made "no difference whatsoever" - quoting Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, who said the government had "no compelling vision".

The deputy prime minister regretted the number of people out of work but said women and youth unemployment started rising under Labour.

He said more private sector jobs had been created under the coalition than Labour, but Ms Harman accused him of being complacent about unemployment.

Turning to the NHS, Ms Harman said the deputy PM had failed to persuade health professionals to support the plans - "let alone his own conference".

Party activists voted at the weekend to delete the section of a motion expressing support for the government's NHS concessions, effectively signalling their opposition to the bill as a whole.

In the Commons, Ms Harman claimed the bill "hasn't changed one bit" - despite being heavily amended during its passage through Parliament - and told Nick Clegg it was not too late to block it.

She asked him whether he would instruct Lib Dem peers in the Lords to vote it down.

Mr Clegg side-stepped the question, and attacked Labour's record on the NHS, claiming the party was against reform and wanted to cut NHS spending.

He said the coalition had come together in the national interest to sort out the problems left by Labour.

"Labour ran out of money in government, and it has run out of ideas in opposition," he remarked.


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