David Cameron & Ed Miliband: Prime Minister's Questions

Key points

  • Main points of Prime Minister David Cameron faces his weekly grilling by Labour leader Ed Miliband and backbench MPs in the House of Commons.
  • MPs pay tribute to Prince Philip ahead of his 90th birthday on Friday

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of prime minister's questions. David Cameron and the other 649 MPs are back from Parliament's Whitsun break - and Ed Miliband is back from his honeymoon. We're expecting some debate about the government's plans for prison sentencing - as it appears that a controversial proposal to increase the "sentence discount" for early guilty pleas is about to be dropped. The issue was behind a big row a few weeks ago in the Commons about Ken Clarke - the Labour leader called for the justice secretary to be sacked over comments about rape sentences. Will he go for the jugular again today? Or accuse the government of a U-turn?

    1140: Jamie Thompson

    tweets: Looking forward to PMQs, although news on NHS/Justice will no doubt give Ed plenty of ammunition.


    Justice Secretary Ken Clarke was "doorstepped" this morning about reports his sentencing plans are set to be scrapped - he told reporters he hadn't seen the newspapers but added: "I never discuss collective discussions with my colleagues, I'm afraid." - He met the prime minister about the controversial plans yesterday.

    1152: Sam Jordan

    tweets: Prime Ministers questions is just an excuse for everyone to shout at each other once a week.


    On the BBC's Daily Politics, housing minister Grant Shapps says it is a "good idea" to have a sentence discount for early guilty pleas - but does not confirm it's been dropped. However he says not taking up every option the government consults on does not make a "U-turn". On the NHS plans - another area where the government has made changes in the face of opposition - he said people would think it was "nice to have a government that listens".


    Labour front bencher Mary Creagh says her party opposes the 50% sentence discount. She suggests it is a case of "a U-turn a day keeps the press at bay".


    Housing minister Grant Shapps tells the Daily Politics that people like having a government that is prepared to "stop and listen" to concerns over its NHS reforms. "We're ordinary people running the country - we're not Mystic Megs," he adds.


    Mary Creagh believes Labour is "tougher on law and order". But she sympathises with moves to ease the burden on the victim - she says she was a victim of crime and had waited 18 months for the court case - only for the girl involved to plead guilty at the last minute.


    For those sticking with Parliament into the afternoon - there will also be a debate on a "humble address" in the Commons later to the Duke of Edinburgh, who celebrates his 90th birthday this week.


    The Commons has filled up ahead of the main event, Ed Miliband is in his seat


    Nick Watt, from the Guardian, predicts Ed Miliband will attack David Cameron over U-turns on the NHS reforms and sentencing - but he may be more cooperative on the long-running problem of funding adult social care, an issue the Labour leader raised yesterday


    David Cameron is on his feet for the start of prime minister's questions - he pays tribute to soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the Parliamentary recess - Royal Marines Martin Gill, Samuel Alexander and Oliver Augustin, Rifleman Martin Lamb and Colour Sgt Kevin Fortuna, of 1st Battalion The Rifles, Corporal Michael Pike, of 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.


    The first MP to ask a question is Conservative MP Jackie Doyle-Price, who raises concerns about violent repression in Syria, particularly the alleged torture of a 13-year-old boy. Mr Cameron says there are "credible reports" of 1,000 people dead and says he will not "stand silent". He says Britain and France are tabling a UN Security Council on Syria later - if anyone vetos it "that should be on their conscience"

    1204: Anthony Cooper

    tweets: PMQ's time! 30 years to the day Thatcher said this lady's not for turning. Cameron take some hints!


    Ed Miliband starts with the issue of the sentencing proposals - has the PM "torn up" the plans, as reported? The PM does not directly deny it but says the government has been consulting on its plans


    Ed Miliband says there is "widespread public concern" about the proposal - he asks again if it has been "torn up", as reported in the newspapers. Mr Cameron suggests he do something other than just read the newspapers. He says the shadow justice secretary had supported the policy and suggests it is Labour that has done a "U-turn".


    The Labour leader says sentencing policy is in "a mess" - and suggests the PM's NHS policy in a similar state. Mr Cameron seems to be enjoying this. He accuses Mr Miliband of "jumping on the bandwagon" - as Labour had supported a 33% discount for early guilty pleas.

    1208: Via Twitter Mark Ferguson

    tweets: I doubt Ken Clarke is going to fall asleep today.


    Mr Cameron goes on to suggest Mr Miliband is "not really in command of the ship" - suggesting his own shadow ministers are at odds with him. But the Labour leader presses on - he says the PM had promised no more NHS reorganisations. Mr Cameron says he is committed to reforming the NHS and more funding - while Labour was in favour of cutting funding.


    BBC Political Correspondent Iain Watson says: Ed Miliband predictably goes on sentencing policy. Labour have seen an opportunity - on sentencing and on knife crime - to push the line that the government is 'soft on crime' - fears he knows some Conservative backbenchers share but perhaps moved too swiftly on to the questions he took longer to prepare, on health - where Labour, unlike on the economy, has strong poll ratings


    Mr Miliband says Mr Cameron is "completely shameless and will say anything" - the PM laughs to himself as MPs shout from the benches. The Labour leader continues by attacking the PM over waiting times. Mr Cameron says he obviously did not have much time for politics on his honeymoon. The Speaker steps in to correct the PM for suggesting the Labour leader had previously misled the Commons.


    Health Secretary Andrew Lansley looks distinctly unimpressed on the Tory benches as Mr Miliband continues his attack on health plans


    Mr Miliband wraps up his questions by suggesting Mr Cameron had proved "you can't trust the Tories on the NHS" - to big cheers from the Labour benches. Mr Cameron says his government is "boldly making reforms in the public sector" and asks where Mr Miliband's plan for NHS, welfare and other issues. Tory MPs chant "nothing" on Mr Cameron's cue.

    1213: Gregory Cherry

    tweets: Forgot how entertaining prime minister's question time can be. Should be serious, but the banter is top notch.


    BBC Political Correspondent Iain Watson says: Watch the underlying positioning between the two parties - Ed Miliband knows that the polls show voters still don't trust the Conservatives' health policy and he wants to "retoxify" the party on this but also wants to build up a narrative of govermnent incompetence. Equally aware of the polls, David Cameron points to "weak leadership" by Labour - two uses of that specific phrase.

    1215: House Magazine's Sam Macrory

    tweets: Miliband didn't make much of an impression on the justice questions. Ended up being accused of making u-turns by the prime minister.


    Ken Clarke "has plenty of fuel left in his tank" says David Cameron after a rather impertinent question about his cabinet colleague's age: Why do judges have to retire at 70 when the justice secretary is 71?, asks Tory MP Phillip Hollobone.


    Labour MP Chuka Umunna tells MPs that the government needs to "get to grips" with the problem of gun crime, which causes so much "senseless loss of life" on the streets of his constituency.

    1220: Mark Congiusta

    tweets: PMQs is the greatest non-sport television show in history. I'm rooting for the team with the loudest "harrumphs"!


    Tory MP James Wharton says FIFA president Sepp Blatter should be "shown the red card" over corruption allegations.


    BBC Political Correspondent Iain Watson says: It wasn't a classic performance by either the prime minister or the leader of the opposition -both retreated into comfort zones, with Ed Miliband saying yet again that the government can't be trusted on the NHS while David Cameron played the man as well as the ball - hitting out at Mr Miliband's leadership style. But there will be Labour -and possibly some Conservative - backbenchers who will feel the Labour leader let the PM off the hook on sentencing. Having previously called for Ken Clarke's resignation, he didn't seem to exploit apparent differences between the justice secretary and Mr Cameron. The PM - in answer to a backbench question - said 'there was still fuel' in the justice secretary's tank - signalling he isn't ready to show him the door from cabinet.


    Mr Cameron calls on Primary Care Trusts to ensure couples suffering with fertility problems are given the full three cycles of treatment recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), after suggestions that some are failing to do so.

    1226: Jenny Simms

    tweets: Unsatisfactory response from Cameron on gun crime in PMQs. Cuts to youth inclusion programmes are not substituted by 'families'.


    The PM recognises that maintaining aid spending is "difficult", but argues that it is essential to help tack global child poverty.

    1228: Nick Pullinger

    tweets: Ed Miliband was not good today. Should've been easy for him.


    The House listens in total silence as Labour backbencher Tom Watson says he fears there is a "powerful cover-up" of illegal practices extending beyond phone-hacking by newspapers. Mr Cameron replies that the police investigation must be allowed to run its course - and there are no "terms of reference" limiting its scope.


    Chairman of the Commons health select committee Stephen Dorrell praises the PM's pursuit of "more integrated and less fragmented care". Mr Cameron says that his support is "hugely welcome".

    1233: Michael J Shepherd

    tweets: Did anyone else clock Osbournes face during the 'conspiracy theory' question?

    1234: Commentator Iain Dale

    tweets: An absolutely shambolic performance at PMQs today by Ed Miliband. Watched it on Democracy Live all the way from Sydney!


    And that wraps up the PM's Commons grilling for this week. MPs move on to discuss a ten minute rule bill.


    The Guardian's Nick Watt tells the Daily Politics that Ed Miliband is perceived as being a less effective performer at PMQs than his brother would have been. However, he also believes that Mr Miliband is better on issues of substance. "What matters at the end of the day is policy," he concludes.


    Now back to the Commons for David Cameron's "humble address" on the occasion of Prince Philip's 90th birthday


    Prince Philip has a passion for outdoor activities - as represented by the well known award scheme - the environment and his family, the PM says, adding that the people of Vanuatu worship him "as a god".


    Nervous laughter as Ed Miliband pays tribute to the Prince's "unique turn of phrase" - throwing in a couple of examples of his sense of humour


    A more relaxed atmostphere pervades the chamber now, as MPs amusing but respectful anecdotes about Prince Philip and opposition leader Ed Miliband joins Mr Cameron in his tribute to the Duke.


    Conservative backbencher Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill's grandson, declares that Prince Philip is the "most exceptional man of his generation", hailing his "profound interest" in conservation and his "inspirational" work on science, design and industry. But Mr Soames notes intriguingly that he "doesn't suffer fools gladly - as I know to my cost".


    Meanwhile Labour backbencher Paul Flynn, well known in Westminster as a republican, asks "why on earth" the address from Parliament to the Duke is described as humble. Are MPs inferior to the royal family, he asks, to a chorus of "yes!" around the chamber. But Mr Flynn concludes that the royal family probably doesn't approve of such sycophancy.


    Labour's Chris Bryant rebuts the arguments put forward by his republican colleague Paul Flynn. The Duke's distinguished record of service in the Navy during the second world war is reason enough for humility, Mr Bryant says.


    MPs give unanimous approval for the humbe address, passing on the "warmest good wishes of the House" to the Queen and Prince Philip and "expressing the gratitude of the nation for his lifetime of service to the country and the Commonwealth and praying that His Royal Highness may long continue in health and happiness".


    That concludes our live coverage for today - many thanks for joining us.


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