Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Live Blogging PMQs

As this is probably the third most important PMQs Cameorn has faced (behind his first with Blair and then the first with Brown - both wins for Cameron) I thought I would live blog my views on how all sides do.

Brown flanked by Labour Deputy Leader Harman and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith - looks good for TV. They are wearing matching white suits!

Tory MP Phillip Davies raises the issue of the release of dangerous prisoners without tags. A strong political start. Brown hits back with support from various organisations. Brown says they were only allowed out 18 days early. Well, that's OK then! Jibe about the Tories not having enough money to pay for extra prison places.

Stroud MP David Drew raises the flood issues and says that it cannot take as long as it does to get mains water re-connected. Why should this sort of crisis mean that people should be without water for so long? Brown sends wishes to all those impacted by floods and praises those working to get the situation sorted. He looks a little shocked that it was his own MP that raised this. Brown is now reading a pre-scripted answer and failing to look sincere. He is, however, providing a very full answer. Brown says he is visiting the area today, taking Tory and Labour backbenchers with him.

Cameron rises to prolonged cheers from the Tory cheers. Cameron pays tributes to soldiers killed in Iraq. He then praises councils and emergency services in their work against the floods. Cameron says he wants to look to the future ... will the Environment Agency and councils now work together to reduce impact on critical services. Cameron looks consensual and Brown returns in kind. Brown lays out the focus of the inquiry into the flooding. Brown welcomes the stance of the Conservatives on this.

Cameron thanks Brown - Speaker stops Labour shouting down Cameron - he "names" a Labour MP for barracking. Cameron asks if councils will be forced to fund the first part of the flood repair bills because Brown has previously said that the insurance would cover 100%. Brown says that funding available will be 46million for just 2 counties. Brown not answering the question about percentages. Brown says flood defence spending has been increased.

Cameron asks what the government can do to make sure that insurance companies pay up speedily. Does the PM think that the hardship funds locally will be enough? Good questions from Cameron and he has come across well. Brown talks about crisis grants to help the uninsured. Brown says he wants to make sure people insure in future.

Rosemary McKenna, a Scottish Labour MP, asks what we can do to return confidence in broadcasters. Brown says he'll look into it.

Campbell, the LibDem Leader, rises to some cheers and pays tribute as Brown and Cameron have done. He says that he has seen the work on the ground - a jibe at Cameron. In the review set up, Campbell asks, will there be a detailed assessment of all impact on all critical services across the country and not just those in flooding areas? Infrastructure should be safe from flooding, and that includes all sites across the country says Brown. He offers Campbell the chance to look at the terms of reference.

Campbell now raises the Stern Report and the economic consequences of climate change. Will Brown spend the money to combat climate change? Brown says that he has increased spending on flood defences. He avoids Campbell's question.

Eric Illsley says that the smoking ban and high taxation is impacting on bingo clubs. Would Brown meet with him to discuss the issue? Brown says he will.

Graham Brady, the Tory MP who quit over grammar schools, raises to ironic cheers. He asks if Blair was right to give up £7bn Euro rebate? The Speaker tells off the Tories this time! Brown says the Tories don't support the enlargement of the EU ... a weak answer.

Dari Taylor asks about looked after children. Brown gives a strong answer and says he will meet to find a way forward.

Cameron leaps to his feet to raise the EU Constitution - to more ironic cheers! - and says that 90%-98% of the constitution is the same, according to the Irish and Spanish PMs. What % does the PM think is the same? Speaker Martin tells off Labour MPs again. Brown says Tories back on the old agenda. Brown lists objectives secured by the government and says Cameron should back the constitution. Brown quotes Ken Clarke saying the Tory position was absurd.

Cameron hits back by quoting Brown - who promised a vote and then backtracked. Cameron lists the good and the great who say that the constitution is the same. He presses him for the percentage that is the same. Brown continues to avoid the question, he falls back on a long-winded quote. Still no answer to Cameron's question. Tories getting restless.

Cameron asks why he doesn't wake up - and quotes the Trade Minister saying it is the same. Ah! say the Tories. Cameron says that if Brown wants to reintroduce trust into politics he will hold the vote. Brown says Cameron back to the old agenda - didn't take long after Ealing Southall by-election. Wheels are coming off the Tory bicycle ... lucky he has a car coming after him! Good joke, but Brown fails to answer the question again. Overall, a marginal win for Cameron but not his best performance.

Islington MP Emily Thornberry asks about the Royal Mail Strike. Brown says inflation is more important than wages.

LibDem MP Sir Robert Smith asks the PM to bring the British forces home from Basra and put them into Afghanistan. Brown says numbers are down and basically the answer is "no".

Mary Creagh, a Labour backbencher, asks about the need to change the law so that people are not scalded by hot water. Brown thanks her and says that she has done a great campaign. Guidance will be given to hot water installators. He will meet her.

Angus Robertson, SNP, says opinion polls puts Salmond ahead of Brown. Will he back Jack McConnell to be the Labour Leader? Yes, says Brown, and Labour have done well in Scotland. Hopes the SNP won't wreck the economy.

Lindsay Hoyle, Labour, asks if the government will back the new aircraft carrier building to support industry. Brown says yes.

David Heathcote-Amory, Conservative MP, asks what the PM will do to heal English and Scottish drift. Brown says 70% voted against independence ... throws it back to Cameron, does he support devolution?

Groans as Chris Bryant asks about child poverty - a good question, well put and those MPs who groaned must feel silly. Brown gives a list of statistics to show how Labour are making things better. Yawn. Nothing about the future here.

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