In full: Prime Minister's Questions

Key points

  • David Cameron answers MPs' questions in the Commons from 1200 GMT

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions. Before it all starts at noon, we'll be bringing you updates from the Daily Politics, with Conservative welfare minister Chris Grayling and Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves as guests.


    The crisis in the eurozone continues to dominate the news - David Cameron is off to a Brussels summit tomorrow and has said today he will block any treaty change that does not protect British interests - particularly on the City of London and the single market. But will that be enough for some of his backbenchers?


    Mr Cameron's former communications chief Andy Coulson is at the High Court today as part of a legal battle with his old employer, News International. The former News of the World editor is disputing the company's refusal to reimburse legal fees related to the phone hacking affair. Labour MPs rarely miss an opportunity to attack Mr Cameron for employing Mr Coulson at No 10 so they may choose to raise it in the Commons. Mr Coulson denies any knowledge of hacking while he was in charge at the newspaper.


    Another subject raised may be lobbying, after undercover reporters taped executives from one company boasting of their power to influence David Cameron. Labour have written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell asking him to investigate.


    On the Daily Politics, what do the politicians make of Mr Cameron's stance on the EU summit? Tory MP Chris Heaton Harris says they just want assurances that if changes involve all 27 EU states, then the UK can get involved in the negotiation, to work out whether any powers can be repatriated. He's waiting until Friday to see what happens - the French and Germans may "be helping us, help them", he says.


    Lib Dem chief whip in the European Parliament, Chris Davies MEP, tells the programme he thinks any changes will be done by "protocol" - rather than a new treaty - that would affect the 17 EU states which use the euro.


    Is Conservative minister Chris Grayling happy with the way things stand? He agrees with Chris Heaton Harris that we have to wait until Friday to see what comes forward. He echoes the PM's words that "we have to protect our national interest". He mentions the financial transactions tax as one key issue for the UK.


    "We need a little bit of the spirit of the Thatcher handbag," says Mr Grayling - in sticking up for British interests. Labour's Rachel Reeves says fiscal union for the eurozone is not the "solution to the problem" - they need the European Central Bank to stand behind countries in difficulty, she says.


    If a "fiscal compact" - another phrase doing the rounds in Brussels - is a way of getting the ECB to stand behind struggling countries, then it would be "part of the answer", says Rachel Reeves.


    BBC News Channel chief political correspondent Norman Smith: Downing Street has confirmed that if the UK signs a new EU treaty the measure will have to approved by MPs. However it is not clear, whether there would be a separate bill to approve the treaty or whether the measure would be added to an existing piece of EU legislation going though Parliament.


    Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies says a UK referendum now would be "ridiculous" and would be like "shooting yourself in the foot" - due to the implications for the eurozone and market confidence.


    On to a different topic now - union officials paid by the taxpayer in the public sector, an important issue for Conservatives. Rachel Reeves, for Labour, says value for money is important but she says trade unions are valuable in representing employees and are also employed in the private sector.


    Why don't unions pay their salaries? They're not doing trade union work, they are supporting public sector staff, replies Ms Reeves.


    Can Labour criticise the unions - bearing in mind their financial support for the party? Ms Reeves says her constituency party gets backing, but she personally does not receive any money from a trade union.


    Conservative Chris Grayling doesn't think there should be any full-time union officials in the public sector - although he's happy for staff to have union responsibilities. He doesn't buy Ms Reeves' argument about union funding.


    David Cameron is on his feet. First question from Tory Andrew Rosindell - sure enough, it's about Europe.


    Mr Rosindell asks the PM to "do Britain proud" and "show some bulldog spirit in Brussels" - big cheers. Mr Cameron says that is "exactly what I'll do". He goes on to say resolving the eurozone crisis is important for Britain - but he'll also be seeking "safeguards" for Britain. He has a dig at Ed Miliband about joining the euro.


    Mr Miliband hits back by beginning his stint by asking Mr Cameron what powers he plans to repatriate at the summit. Mr Cameron repeats his call for "safeguards for Britain". Much noise from the Labour benches, who don't seem to think he's answering the question. The Labour leader says his answer is confusing.


    Mr Miliband presses on with Europe - he reminds Mr Cameron what he has previously told his own backbenchers. The Labour leader suggests the PM has told his backbenchers one thing, and European leaders another.

    1206: Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    So the PM is promising to be a bulldog in Brussels, although he ducks Ed's invitation to spell out what powers he'll bring back.


    The PM says he does not "resile" from anything he told Tory backbenchers - he wants to make sure "we have more power and control here in the UK". Loud cheers from his benches as he accuses Labour of giving up powers and "surrendering" British interests. The Speaker calls order.


    Mr Miliband says the PM has promised his backbenchers a Thatcher-style "handbagging" in Europe but now he is reduced to "hand wringing". He says Britain is "losing out in Europe" as a result. Mr Cameron says that however well scripted the joke would not save Mr Miliband's leadership - the Labour leader, flanked by Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, looks less than impressed.


    George Osborne and Andrew Mitchell - two Tory ministers - nod along with David Cameron as he speaks. Nick Clegg, to the PM's right, doesn't.


    After a question from Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, Mr Cameron says he's right to defend the financial services industry - another sticking point with Europe.

    1209: Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    The Labour benches are much rowdier than the government side.


    SDLP Margaret Ritchie asks about the "unfairness" of government action to deal with pension contributions - Mr Cameron says she's "plain wrong" about the government's plans for public sector pensions. He goes on to defend the proposals - he says the government must be fair to public sector workers - and taxpayers more widely.


    Another Tory MP raises Europe - it's a key issue for many in the party. Mr Cameron repeats that the first priority is to resolve the eurozone crisis, while safeguarding the interests of "UK Plc"


    Labour's Mark Tami asks if the PM will be having his "usual Christmas bash" with Rebekah Brooks and Jeremy Clarkson - Mr Cameron says he'll be having a "quiet family Christmas".


    Another Europe question from the Conservative benches - Mark Pritchard criticises "bailout after bailout". Mr Cameron says he understands Germany's concern about tougher fiscal rules but the "competitiveness problem" also has to be resolved.

    1213: Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    On Europe, the PM's answers suggest no powers will be repatriated. The euro crisis is pulling him one way, his backbenchers another.


    Mr Miliband is back on his feet for his next set of questions - it's about the government's economic measures, which he says will hit the poorest much harder than the richest. Mr Cameron says he's wrong and they are dealing with the debts in a "fair" way.


    Mr Miliband says not - the poorest third will be hit harder than the richest third. He uses one of the government's phrases about not "balancing the books on the backs of the poor" - to say they are not balancing the budget at all. He has a dig at the PM for delaying a tax on private jets - Mr Cameron said Labour had 13 years to tax private jets, and now former Labour leaders are "jetting around in them".


    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls holds up a piece of paper - looks like a graph - as Mr Cameron suggests he "calm down".

    1217: Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    Angry pointing by Labour MPs at PM who wants to talk about their plans rather than his... meanwhile Ed Balls thrusts a printout of an IFS chart towards the PM.


    Mr Miliband starts quoting the Institute for Fiscal Studies about the impact of economic policies. He says it's a case of "women and children first" in terms of those hit by cuts. Mr Cameron says his soundbites are getting "weaker" and says women will benefit from the increase in the state pension and raising of the income tax threshold.


    Lib Dem John Thurso asks about small businesses getting finance - will the PM consider breaking up nationalised banks to create more competition on the high street? The PM says there are opportunities for more competition.


    Labour's Jeremy Corbyn has a "closed question" - but it doesn't get asked as the Speaker notes he is "not here". On to Conservative John Baron, with another question about whether the PM will "seize the moment" at the EU summit.


    The PM says he will be "going in there and fighting for British interests" - but he says there's always the possibility that the 17 eurozone members will "go ahead and form a treaty of their own". He says in such a case the UK has some "leverage" relating to the use of EU institutions and will make the most of it.


    Labour's Pat McFadden says the PM has led his party "up the garden path" on Europe - Mr Cameron retaliates by saying Labour gave away so many powers "it's going to take a while to get some of them back".


    Conservative Andrew Percy asks about the "explosion" in personal debt levels - young people need to be more "financially literate", he says. Mr Cameron says he's happy to meet with the MP - a former "supply teacher". Much laughter. The PM excuses himself and adds he was also a full time teacher.


    Another Labour MP says women are being hit hardest by government cuts. The PM goes on to list policies on free nursery and childcare.


    Lib Dem MP Ian Swales says Redcar council in his constituency is considering rejecting government funding for a council tax freeze next year - Mr Cameron says he hopes they will take it up.


    A question on financial support for faith schools from Labour MP Jim Dobbin - Mr Cameron says it's an important question and he supports faith schools, noting that his own children are going to them.


    Another Europe question from Conservative MP Andrew Turner - he wants changes to employment, immigration and fishing rights to support the UK economy. Mr Cameron says the more changes EU countries want the greater his opportunity to ask for "sensible things that make sense for Britain".


    An NHS question from Mike Gapes - about closures at his local hospital - he suggests Mr Cameron should have promised to "cut the NHS, not the deficit" before the election. Mr Cameron says he's wrong, the deficit is coming down and health spending is going up.


    Conservative Andrea Leadsom asks about early intervention with families, having set up a charity on the same issue. Mr Cameron says she's absolutely right and the age of 0-2 is when disadvantage can set in. Labour's Bill Esterson says the PM should cut VAT to help businesses - Mr Cameron says Labour has a "huge long list" of extra spending and tax cuts but are opposing all cuts.


    Yet another Europe question from a Conservative MP - Julian Lewis is not convinced by plans for fiscal union within the eurozone. Mr Cameron says they do need stronger fiscal rules and greater competitiveness but that's for them to decide. He repeats again that his job is safeguarding British interests.


    Labour's Alun Michael attacks the "disgraceful cuts" for service personnel in Afghanistan - Mr Cameron says other measures are in place to help troops - such as increasing their operational allowance.


    On to wind farms - Conservative Mark Lancaster says a planning appeal decision is a "blatant slap in the face for localism". Mr Cameron says planning reforms will ensure that local people and councils decide what best meets their needs.


    Back to Europe. DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds asks whether the British people get a referendum on EU changes? The PM says if substantial powers are being transferred there would have to be a referendum.


    Fiona Bruce - another Conservative MP - asks about regulatory burdens on British businesses coming from Europe. The PM says she's right but he's starting with "our own backyard" clearing out regulations. He says he has had a "major breakthrough" on "micro businesses" employing less than 10 people in Europe.


    Another attack from Labour about women and children being hit hardest from Fiona O'Donnell MP - Mr Cameron hits back by saying Labour would leave families buried under a burden of debt with their policies.


    Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell is on his feet. Another Europe question. He says a fiscal union will "pose a great threat to the whole of the liberty of Europe" by making Germany more dominant. He takes a while to get the question out and gets heckled by Labour.


    Cheers as Sir Peter mentions the Boston Tea Party and the dangers of "no taxation without representation" - Mr Cameron says Sir Peter "as ever" speaks with great wisdom. He says he agrees with him on the issue of the single currency and fiscal rules will not be enough on their own - but it's a decision eurozone countries have to make themselves.

    1238: Ben Wright Political correspondent, BBC News

    There was a huge roar of approval for Sir Peter Tapsall, father of the house. Labour MPs shouted "take your time" as he chugged though his question in a Churchillian tone.


    The session ends. A point of order is halted by the Speaker and MPs start to file out as Conservative Mike Freer begins his Ten Minute Rule Bill on tax refunds regulation.


    That's it from Prime Minister's Questions for the week, what did they think of the session on Daily Politics? BBC political editor Nick Robinson says there is undoubtedly a gulf between what the PM thinks is the right thing to do at this week's summit - and what many of his backbenchers want.


    BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the PM is trying to cover a lot of bases - not look weak but also not unco-operative to his fellow EU leaders, not look weak in front of his backbenchers and also not annoy his coalition partners - the more pro- European Lib Dems.


    On Daily Politics Conservative Chris Grayling says, as with all treaty negotiations, it's a poker-playing exercise and it's not surprising the PM doesn't want to lay his cards on the table. He was clear about his intentions on the financial services industry.


    Rachel Reeves, for Labour, says Mr Cameron six weeks ago was very clear he wanted to repatriate powers from Brussels - so what's changed? Mr Grayling says six weeks is a long time in a eurozone crisis.


    On a completely different subject, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has had fun choosing his Christmas card this year.


    Mr Grayling says his understanding of what David Cameron said was that there may be some repatriation of powers on financial services regulation, but others on Daily Politics don't agree. Rachel Reeves thinks it was more the PM saying no more powers would be transferred.


    Chris Grayling says there was a "clear intent" to strengthen British control over a key industry - financial services. But will it happen at this summit? We'll have to wait until Friday to see, says the minister.


    Having counted up all the Europe-based questions at PM's questions - we think there were 14 in total. It was undoubtedly the hot topic of the session.


    The Daily Politics moves onto a different topic - about bullying. Ben Cohen, a former England rugby player has made a film about the damage it can do in schools and to families.


    Chris Grayling says it's "wholly unacceptable" that there is a culture in sport that marginalises gay people. He also says bullying in the workplace is a big problem.


    After a quick rundown of tweets from MPs about the various talents of X-factor contestants, Labour's Rachel Reeves admits she's no expert on the show and that she's a bit boring with her tweets. And on that bombshell, we'll wrap up our coverage here for the week. Thanks for joining us, we'll be back next week.


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