Cameron and Miliband clash over living standards


The prime minister has dismissed rebukes from the opposition over wage levels, warning that Labour leader Ed Miliband wants to "talk down the economy".

The Labour Party leader focused on analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, asking: "Can the prime minister explain why today's figures show that, three years into his government, living standards continuing to fall?"

David Cameron hit back with newly released statistics on unemployment, showing that the number of jobless fell by 5,000 in the first quarter of 2013.

To loud jeers from Labour benches, Mr Cameron said, "I know the party opposite don't want to hear good news," before laying the blame for lower salaries at their door: "Real wages have been under huge pressure since the calamitous boom and bust over which he presided."

Mr Miliband said his attitude amounted to saying: "Don't blame me, I'm only the prime minister!"

"No answer from this prime minister on the living standards crisis that is facing families up and down the country," Mr Miliband continued. "Day in, day out, what people see is prices rising, wages falling, while the prime minister tells them they're better off."

The prime minister rejoined: "Only someone who wants to talk down our economy could pick a day like today. More people in work, unemployment down, youth unemployment down, claimant count down. Not one word of respect for that good agenda for jobs."

Other questions during the session focused on accident and emergency waiting times, the Syrian conflict and blacklisting in Scotland.

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