Cameron attacked for absence at PMQs

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Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has attacked David Cameron for his absence at prime minister's questions.

"This is meant to be prime minister's questions and once again the prime minister is not here," she said to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who filled in for Mr Cameron while he visited the US, on 15 May 2013.

She pointed out that he had only been present at one prime minister's question session over the past eight Wednesdays.

"He's been busy explaining to President Obama the benefits of our membership of the European Union. Why is he able to do it in the White House but not in this House?" she demanded.

The deputy prime minister replied that Mr Cameron is "unusually assiduous in coming to the House" and told her "the leader who should be relieved there is no PMQs is the leader of her party".

"He's always made it clear he believes in the continued membership of the European Union in a reformed union," Mr Clegg said.

Ms Harman continued: "We have an important vote on an amendment to the Queen's Speech tonight but the prime minister is out of the country."

Mr Clegg joked: "The deputy leader has spent three questions delivering the penetrating insight that the prime minister is not here.

"Our position is perfectly clear, hers is not."

Conservative rebels have tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech, regretting that an EU referendum bill was not included in the speech. Up to 100 Conservative MPs are expected to vote in favour of the amendment later.

The move comes despite a draft bill on a referendum - drawn up by the Conservative Party - being published on Tuesday, in a bid to calm tensions.

Other questions during the session were on welfare reform, the representation of Britain at the Commonwealth conference in Sri Lanka, unemployment and the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

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