As it happened: Prime Minister's Questions

Key Points

  • The PM and Ed Miliband clashed over the UK's credit downgrade by Moody's
  • Several MPs made last-ditch bids for support for their parties in Thursday's Eastleigh by-election
  1.  
    1143:

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions from the House of Commons. On a bitterly cold February day here at Westminster many eyes are looking to tomorrow's Eastleigh by-election, for a test of where the coalition partners stand at this stage of the parliament. Of more note, in Commons terms, is last week's downgrading of the UK's credit rating by the Moody's agency.

     
  2.  
    1146:

    Labour leader Ed Miliband is likely to attack the PM over the Moody's downgrade, arguing that it undermines the government's economic credibility. But there has been some, slightly, better news for the coalition today. The economy grew by 0.3% last year, rather than stagnated, as had previously been thought, according to the Office for National Statistics. David Cameron will hardly have the bunting out for a street party, but it will offer some scope for a riposte in the chamber.

     
  3.  
    1147:

    The Daily Politics is live from Brussels on BBC Two today, with Labour's leader in the European Parliament Glenis Willmott and Conservative MP David Davis.

     
  4.  
    1149:

    David Davis tells Daily Politics that allegations against former Lib Dem chief executive Lord Rennard over his behaviour towards women won't help the the party's campaign in the Eastleigh by-election, but local factors will probably count more.

     
  5.  
    1150:

    A full list of the candidates standing in the by-election can be found here.

     
  6.  
    1151:

    On Daily Politics, Glenis Willmott admits Labour's campaign in Eastleigh was "always going to be an uphill struggle", but says people haven't got faith in either of the two coalition parties.

     
  7.  
    1153:

    Conservative David Davis says if his party comes third in Eastleigh "it will be a crisis" for David Cameron. "If it's a close second, with UKIP on our tail, it will also be pretty uncomfortable," he adds.

     
  8.  
    1156:

    MPs who are up to ask David Cameron questions today include former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears, Conservatives Richard Drax, John Glen and Edward Leigh and Labour frontbenchers Cat McKinnell and Gemma Doyle.

     
  9.  
    1158:

    BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue reports that Downing Street has declined to criticise today's profits made by Centrica, owner of British Gas. The prime minister's spokesman said: "What consumers can rightly expect is that the government and the regulator work together as much as we can to help families."

     
  10.  
    1159:

    PMQs is under way.

     
  11.  
    1200:

    BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says Ed Miliband will go "almost exclusively on the economy" at PMQs today and won't raise the "private grief" of the Liberal Democrats. The downgrade of Britain's triple-A rating provides ammunition for Mr Miliband, our correspondent adds.

     
  12.  
    1202:

    Mr Cameron is on his feet and attacking Labour's candidate in Eastleigh, John O'Farrell, over comments he made about the IRA bomb attack at the Conservative Party conference in 1984 in Brighton.

     
  13.  
    1202:

    Ed Miliband asks the PM about the downgrade of Britain's credit rating. Mr Cameron says it is a warning to those who think we can "walk away" from the government's economic programme.

     
  14.  
    1205: Norman Smith Chief political correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets David Cameron #pmqs accuses Labours #Eastleigh candidate of "speaking up for terrorists"

     
  15.  
    1205:

    Ed Miliband says Chancellor George Osborne claimed a downgrade would be "humiliation" for the UK and he asks David Cameron if he has failed the economic test he set for himself in his own manifesto.

     
  16.  
    1206:

    David Cameron says the Labour leader's answer to high borrowing is to borrow more.

     
  17.  
    1208:

    David Cameron says the credit rating "does matter" because it demonstrates "we have to go further and faster on the deficit".

     
  18.  
    1211:

    Ed Miliband accuses David Cameron of "scraping the barrel" when he quotes the News Statesman at the Labour leader, but Mr Cameron retorts that it is the only newspaper that endorsed Mr Miliband's party leadership bid.

     
  19.  
    1212:

    Mr Miliband says: "All we've heard today is a prime minister who refuses to accept that he has failed to meet the first test he set for himself. It's a downgraded government, a downgraded chancellor and a downgraded prime minister."

     
  20.  
    1214:

    Labour's Gordon Banks asks about the rising use of food banks. Mr Cameron says the government has helped by allowing them to be advertised in job centres.

     
  21.  
    1215:

    On the new medals for those involved in the Arctic convoys during the Second World War, Mr Cameron says they should be handed out as quickly as possible.

     
  22.  
    1216:

    Labour's Wayne David asks about the "bedroom tax" for under-occupied social housing. Mr Cameron says it's not a tax and the cost of housing benefit needs to be addressed.

     
  23.  
    1217:

    Former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears asks about "soaring energy bills". The prime minister says the government is "legislating to put people on the lowest tariffs".

     
  24.  
    1219: Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets Loss of Triple A surprisingly painless for govt. Though opinion polls suggest that public, like markets, had already priced in #pmqs

     
  25.  
    1221:

    Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie asks about the failings at Stafford Hospital and calls for an investigation into who was responsible for suppressing information. Mr Cameron says people should be held accountable.

     
  26.  
    1222: Helen Lewis of the New Statesman

    tweets Just finished work on our new logo here at the @newstatesman pic.twitter.com/Ftm35egoML

     
  27.  
    1226:

    Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland asks about the legacy of the London Paralympics. Mr Cameron says the Games were "a triumph for Britain", but the resulting "change of perception in what disabled people are capable of" has been a "real gift".

     
  28.  
    1226:

    There are more questions from the Labour benches on the "bedroom tax" from Cat Mckinnell and Gemma Doyle.

     
  29.  
    1228:

    Labour's Ian Mearns asks about banning smoking in vehicles where there are children. Mr Cameron says the government is looking "across the piece at all the issues" to do with smoking and public health and says Mr Mearns "makes a good point".

     
  30.  
    1232:

    Tory Edward Leigh raises the issues of Europe "interfering" in the benefits Romanians and Bulgarians might receive if they come and work in the UK when temporary restrictions are lifted at the end of the year.

     
  31.  
    1233:

    The prime minister says it is right to be "fair" to new migrants, but the UK must not be a "soft touch". He says the government is looking at health provision, housing and benefits.

     
  32.  
    1235:

    There is more party political jousting as a Tory MP calls for the PM to back the Conservative candidate in Eastleigh. Mr Cameron willingly obliges.

     
  33.  
    1236:

    That ends PMQs for this week.

     
  34.  
    1239:

    The BBC's Iain Watson tells Daily Politics he was surprised no backbenchers mentioned the allegations against Lord Rennard. He also says Ed Miliband "walked into a trap" by responding to Mr Cameron's New Statesman quote.

     
  35.  
    1240: Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets Not sure wise of Tory whips to plant questions re Eastleigh given David Davis's warning that "if we came third it would be a crisis" #pmqs

     
  36.  
    1241:

    Tory MP David Davis tells Daily Politics Ed Miliband missed an open goal on the economy and should have talked about the cost of living instead.

     
  37.  
    1243:

    Labour's Glenis Willmott says the Ed Miliband was right to go on the economy because people's living standards are being squeezed.

     
  38.  
    1244:

    Using a boxing metaphor, the BBC's Norman Smith says this week's PMQs was not "exactly a thriller in Manila".

     
  39.  
    1245:

    Reaction to the session from MPs. Conservative David Ruffley says the loss of the AAA rating with Moody's is "a bit embarrassing" but will not "mean very much" in the long term.

     
  40.  
    1247:

    As some of Westminster's thirstier denizens head off for a livener, the BBC ponders whether they are doing enough to save Britain's pubs.

     
  41.  
    1249:

    Labour's Glenis Willmott tells Daily Politics she is glad the European Parliament isn't like the "bear pit" of PMQs, saying its consensual approach encourages a lot more women to take part in politics.

     
  42.  
    1251:

    That ends our coverage of PMQs for this week. It was not the spiciest of occasions - in curry terms more an underwhelming keema of cattiness than a vindaloo of vitriol. The economy dominated, with a strong flavour of Eastleigh by-election thrown in. Please join us again next Wednesday. In the meantime, you can follow goings-on in the Commons, Lords, Brussels etc on the BBC's Democracy Live.

     

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