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Summary

  1. David Cameron and Ed Miliband clashed over their plans to cut public spending
  2. It was the last PMQs session before Parliament breaks up for the Christmas recess
  3. To watch the full session back, select Daily Politics via the 'Live Coverage' tab
  4. A statement followed from the defence secretary on the Al-Sweady Inquiry Report

Live Reporting

By Pippa Simm, Gavin Stamp and Adam Donald

All times stated are UK

  1. Update: Reaction to the final PMQs of 2014

    Daily Telegraph: Sketch writer Michael Deacon predicts David Cameron's "boast" that "we don't need" to raise taxes will "fly back and sock him in the chops" at some point. What will be his defence if he does find himself raising taxes, such as VAT, he wonders.

    The Mirror: Nigel Nelson concludes that David Cameron and Ed Miliband "now exist in parallel universes", as "the Labour leader's questions and the PM's answers had about as much connection as a string of duff fairy lights".

    The Independent: Lizzie Dearden observes the "lack of festive goodwill" between the two leaders, noting that they "appeared to abandon policy entirely and opt for personal attacks in vicious exchanges".

    The Guardian: It was a session "full of jibes at each other across the floor", writes political correspondent Rowena Mason, who leads with Ed Miliband's accusation that the PM has only fixed the economy for his Christmas card list.

  2. More to come

    We're wrapping up our live text commentary now, but you can continue to follow events in the House of Commons on the BBC's Democracy Live website. If it's PMQs you are interested in you can scroll back through the entire session by selecting the catch-up Daily Politics under the "Live Coverage" tab on this page. The best clips are under the "Key Video" tab. We'll be adding more text updates later with reaction to the session later.

  3. Commons: Al-Sweady statement ends

    The statement is over, and the Labour MP Michael Connarty uses the point of procedure to complain that he was, in his mind, unfairly cut short by Speaker John Bercow when asking David Cameron a question at Prime Minister's Questions. Mr Bercow stresses that it is for the occupant of the chair to be the judge and maintains that the MP took too long to get to the crux of the question.

  4. Cracker time

    The post PMQs debate on BBC Radio 4's World at One ends on a cordial note as Christmas crackers are handed out. It sounds like Tristram Hunt fares best from the ensuing battle, as he hails a dramatic victory for Labour. "A metaphor for Labour taking more than they're entitled to," quips Lib Dem Jeremy Browne.

  5. 'Spouting nonsense'

    On BBC World at One, Conservative Employment Minister Esther McVey tells Mr Hunt he is "spouting nonsense" and adds that Labour's claims about public spending reaching 1930s levels have taken a section of the OBR's report out of context. Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne says there has been "a dramatic rise" in employment.

  6. PMQs reaction

    On BBC Radio 4's The World at One, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt says the party is "desperately keen" to talk about employment. He says low wages and part-time work are the reason the public finances are "shot to pieces".

  7. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Defence Secretary Michael Fallon agrees with Ann Clwyd's assessment of British troops' reputation in Iraq. In answer to her question, he says there have been improvements to procedures, including on the retrieval and archiving of information to make it easier to find out what has happened and enable allegations to be quickly and properly investigated.

  8. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Labour MP Ann Clwyd, a former special envoy on human rights envoy, says she is pleased the UK has answered the allegations, and comments that it has affected the "very high reputation" in Iraq for the British government and its armed forces. She presses the defence secretary for further information on the changes that have been made in response to some instances of ill-treatment.

  9. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd tells the Commons that he fully accepts the report's conclusions, and welcomes the fact that the soldiers have been exonerated. He seeks assurances that incidents of maltreatment of detainees recognised in the report will be addressed.

  10. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Bob Ainsworth, a former Labour defence secretary who commissioned the inquiry, explains how it came in to being. He says serious allegations must be properly investigated but says that the public purse must also be protected from "misuse" and asks the government to look at how to ensure that balance.

  11. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Rory Stewart, the Conservative chair of the Defence Committee, commends the report for reinforcing the "honour and respect" of the British Armed Forces. But he urges the defence secretary to focus on the broader political context, saying most of the Iraqi leadership in the province were "convinced of these unimaginable atrocities". He stresses the need to build trust between the British military and local political leaders to ensure soldiers are protected from "baseless" allegations.

  12. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Vernon Coaker offers Labour's support for the report's conclusions and recommendations, and says there are lessons to be learned, noting that some soldiers' conduct did amount to "possible maltreatment" which is "not acceptable".

  13. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Responding on behalf of the opposition, shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker says: "We will not tolerate calculated, malicious and baseless untruths against our service men and women."

  14. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Concluding his remarks, the defence secretary says he regrets that it was found necessary to hold a public inquiry to disprove the allegations, which were a "shameful attempt to use our legal system to attack and falsely impugn our armed forces".

  15. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    To date the inquiry - set up in 2009 - has cost £31m, MPs are told. Michael Fallon says the Ministry of Defence is considering whether "the claimants' failure to disclose the militia document may allow us to recover some of the costs of the judicial review".

  16. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Michaerl Fallon says the "falsity" of the overwhelming majority of their allegations, the late disclosure of a document showing the nine detainees to have been insurgents and the delay by their lawyers in withdrawing allegations of torture and murder have prompted the Solicitors Regulation Authority to investigate "possible breaches of standards". It is expected to be completed next year, MPs are told.

  17. PMQs verdict

    Nick Robinson

    Political editor

    Rounding off his thoughts on PMQs, BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson says detailed arguments about deficit targets and party commitments are for the Westminster TV studios and are not going to "percolate" too far down to the general public, who are more concerned about job security, pay and their weekly bills.

  18. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    "The Iraqi detainees, their accomplices and their lawyers must now bear the brunt of the criticism for the protracted nature and the £31m cost of this unnecessary public inquiry," the Conservative defence secretary tells MPs.

  19. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    On the issue of detention, Michael Fallon says he accepts Sir Thayne's conclusions that some of the detainees' treatment amounted to ill treatment. He adds that he accepts all nine of the inquiry's recommendations in principle and has commissioned practical work on their implementation. Detailed conclusions will be announced as soon as is feasible.

  20. PMQs verdict

    Apparently those teams of Conservative and Labour spinners have been having a bit of fun during PMQs. The Labour press team posted a tweet suggesting David Cameron's joke writers had been given "the day off" for Christmas while their Tory counterparts responded by suggesting that Labour's economic advisers had been given "four years off". It is the pantomime season after all.

  21. Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar

    @AngusMacNeilMP

    Tweets: "Very very snide by Cameron calling Milliband a "waste of space" at #pmqs #lowPolitics"

  22. David Montgomery, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for East Renfrewshire

    @drdavidmonty

    Tweets: "Miliband criticising Cameron for spending too little AND borrowing too much. Good grief. #PMQs"

  23. PMQs reaction

    Nick Robinson

    Political editor

    Nick Robinson says the arguments we just heard on the economy are the ones we will hear at most PMQs between now and May's general election. The leaders' clash was a snapshot of what a TV debate between the two men might sound like, should such a head-to-head encounter ever happen.

  24. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    Inquiry chairman Sir Thayne Forbes said some aspects of how the detainees had been treated did amount to ill treatment, but it was not deliberate ill treatment. The "most serious allegations" which "have been hanging over these soldiers for the past 10 years" have been found to be "without foundation" the UK's defence secretary says.

  25. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    The inquiry's findings are "incontrovertible", Michael Fallon tells MPs. He says the allegations made were "of the most serious nature" and were "untrue". He adds: "British soldiers did not carry out the atrocities that have been falsely attributed to them."

  26. Commons: Al-Sweady report

    The public inquiry ruled that allegations of murder and torture made against British soldiers by Iraqi detainees were "deliberate lies", Michael Fallon says. It found claims that up to 20 Iraqis were killed and mutilated after a 2004 battle were "reckless speculation".

  27. Pic: Ed Balls reacts to a Cameron attack

    Ed Balls
  28. Pic: Osborne gives Cameron a tip

    David Cameron and George Osborne
  29. The verdict

    Nick Robinson

    Political editor

    Initial reaction from the BBC's Nick Robinson: He says Ed Miliband wants to say there is a deficit problem but the scale of cuts is too great and will use the "back to the 1930s" slogan time and time again.

  30. Al-Sweady statement

    MPs file out of the chamber as PMQs ends. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon takes his place at the despatch box to deliver a statement on the Al-Sweady report published this morning.

  31. The last question

    The last question is from Lib Dem MP Malcolm Bruce who praises the government's spending on the NHS and criticises the SNP's own record in Scotland. Mr Cameron agrees and rounds off the session by, once again, drawing attention to his "long-term economic plan".

  32. Cold weather

    Liz McInnes, whose was elected MP for Heywood and Middleton in October, asks about cold weather payments - saying 18,000 died last winter because of the weather. Mr Cameron says every "excess death" is a tragedy but the number of fatalities last year has half that in 2008-9.

  33. Tim Montgomerie, columnist at The Times

    @montie

    Tweets: "Miliband insults voters' intelligence saying cuts would take us back to 30s. Spending will be 9x higher in real terms under Tory plans #PMQs"

  34. Oliver Cooper, chairman of Conservative Future

    @OliverCooper

    Tweets: "8,000 more doctors and 3,000 more nurses in the NHS than in 2010. If Labour cared about the NHS, they'd put that on their leaflets. #PMQs"

  35. Housing benefit bill

    We are reaching the end of the session now. Labour's Sheila Gilmore claims that the housing benefit bill is £4bn higher than in 2010. In response, the PM says Labour's economic policy and its approach to welfare cuts is "completely incoherent".

  36. Stamp Duty

    The Conservative John Glen asks about stamp duty reforms in the Autumn Statement. The PM says the government is supporting people who "want to get on".

  37. The BBC's World at One on Radio 4

    @BBCWorldatOne

    Tweets: "Joining @Marthakearney for the last #wato #PMQs panel of 2014: @EstherMcVeyMP, @JeremyBrowneMP and @TristramHuntMP"

  38. Pic: Carswell question

    Douglas Carswell
    Image caption: Douglas Carswell got to ask a second question at PMQs as a UKIP MP - he asked about the green levy on energy bills
  39. Clarke's spending pride

    Former Chancellor Ken Clarke says the government's post-election plans would reduce the share of public spending to Labour levels in the late-1990s, joking that these were figures that they inherited from his time in the Treasury. Mr Cameron agrees that talk of a "return to the 1930s" is exaggerated and accuses Labour of making up its policy on the hoof.

  40. Andrew Sinclair, political correspondent for BBC East

    @andrewpolitics

    Tweets: "Whoops! @DouglasCarswell calls PM "my honourable friend" #pmqs"

  41. Marx

    Tory MP Tony Baldry invites the PM to read the works of Karl Marx, as he condemns the actions of the Russian government and urges it to play a more constructive role. David Cameron says he does not have as much time for Das Kapital as others but he agrees about Russia's current stance.

  42. Faisal Islam, Sky News political editor

    @faisalislam

    Tweets: "Third backbench mention of the phrase "long term economic plan". Message discipline. #pmqs"

  43. Nurse numbers

    The PM rejects Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop's claims that there are thousands of fewer nurses in the NHS than in 2010, saying numbers have actually risen.

  44. Climate change

    A question on climate change from Labour's Nia Griffith, in which she jokes whether any of the PM's Christmas card will contain images of huskies. In response, the PM praises the government's achievements on the environment and its stance during recent climate changes in Peru.

  45. Labour and immigration

    A question from Basildon MP Stephen Metcalfe, whose UKIP opponents have been in a bit of a mess this week. Mr Metcalfe questions whether it is wrong to discuss immigration and Mr Cameron agrees - wondering again what Labour MPs will be able to talk about this Christmas.

  46. Pic: Full House?

    House of Commons
    Image caption: It's busy, but not quite as packed as normal in the House of Commons for this session of Prime Minister's Questions
  47. Ambulance waits

    Labour's Derek Twigg says an elderly constituent had to wait 90 minutes for an ambulance to come to their aid after a fall in their home. Mr Cameron says he will look at the case but trumpets the government's spending on the health service.

  48. Jim Pickard, Financial Times chief political correspondent

    @PickardJE

    Tweets: "Today's #PMQs summarised:

    Cameron: economy all well

    Miliband: economy Orwell"

  49. Housing benefit cuts

    Labour MP Nick Brown welcomes the fall in unemployment but says the jobless figures are too high in the north east of England. He then goes onto to ask about cuts to working-age benefits after the election. Mr Cameron says by not addressing welfare costs, spending on other things such as the police would have to be cut. He criticises Labour's attempts to reverse cuts to housing benefit, to be debated later in Parliament.

  50. Personal debt

    Conservative Mark Garnier also asks about the economy, warning against another bubble driven by personal debt. The PM says the government has introduced new reforms to prevent this happening.

  51. Remittances

    Former Labour minister Tessa Jowell asks about low-paid migrants, who are returning most of their income to their relatives abroad in the form of remittances. She asks for money transfer firms to cuts their charges for Christmas. Mr Cameron says it is an important issue and the government will look hard at keeping charges down.

  52. John Rentoul, columnist for The Independent

    @JohnRentoul

    Tweets: "Interesting that there were no ironic cheers from Tories when EdM stood up at #PMQs. Morale has shifted."

  53. A 3D bike

    Tory MP Neil Carmichael is next up, drawing attention to a festival of manufacturing in his constituency. Mr Cameron praises the initiative, recalling that he attended the event and saw a "3D bike being printed in metal".

  54. Vicki Young, BBC chief political correspondent

    @VickiYoung01

    Tweets: "Decent line from Miliband on economy that Tories don't want to balance books they want to "slash the state". But Lab MPs still look glum."

  55. Gaby Hinsliff, columnist for The Guardian

    @gabyhinsliff

    Tweets: "If you already feel like you've heard this deficit row a billion times, we've got another five months of it to go #pmqs"

  56. Boko Haram

    The DUP's Nigel Dodds says the Taliban attack in Pakistan has "shocked the world" and asks about the missing schoolchildren abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The PM says the UK is continuing to work with the Nigerian authorities "in every way they can" to help rescue them.

  57. Armed forces

    We are now onto questions from backbenchers. Tory Richard Drax urges a future Conservative government not to make any further cuts to the armed forces. The PM says the UK is spending 2% of its GDP on defence and will spend £160bn on new equipment in the next decade.

  58. Nick Robinson, BBC political editor

    @bbcnickrobinson

    Tweets: "You know those election leaders debates? Think they've just had the first one in #pmqs. Only 4 months to go...."

  59. Harry Smith, STV Westminster correspondent

    @stvharry

    Tweets: "#PMQs Cameron does not take up Miliband's challenge to rule out rise in VAT"

  60. 'Labour's silent night'

    David Cameron says on a day when the inflation rate and unemployment are down and the economy is growing faster than any other major economy, their exchanges showed Ed Miliband had "absolutely nothing to say". He says he "almost" feels sorry for Labour MPs because they can't talk about the deficit, growth, jobs, immigration or their leader "because he's a complete waste of space". He closes by saying this year, for Labour "it is a silent night".

  61. 'Slashing the state'

    The two are seeking to land blows on each other over the economic credibility. Will he rule out a raise in VAT? Ed Miliband asks and says the Conservatives' plan "is not about balancing the books it's about slashing the state".

  62. Fall in unemployment

    David Cameron says the Labour leader can't bring himself to mention this morning's unemployment figures, which show a fall in the number of jobless.

  63. Unfunded tax cuts?

    Ed Miliband goes on the attack himself, and criticises the Conservatives' £7bn of "unfunded tax cuts". The public aren't stupid, he says - and presses the PM over whether it would be paid for by further public spending cuts or a rise in VAT.

  64. 'Mask slips'

    The mask has slipped, Ed Miliband claims, but David Cameron responds with an attack on Labour's economic plans, which he says would push up borrowing and spending.

  65. Michael Savage, chief political correspondent of The Times

    @michaelsavage

    Tweets: "Labour really think they are on to something with Osborne's cuts plan. Miliband sounds confident today. #PMQs"

  66. Who's asking?

    David Cameron says there needs to be a budget surplus, and asks the opposition leader if he agrees? Ed Miliband tells David Cameron he'll be have an opportunity to ask the questions when he's in opposition.

  67. Vicki Young, BBC chief political correspondent

    @VickiYoung01

    Tweets: "Miliband attacks Cameron over spending plans. Since Autumn Statement Labour feel they have a way in to economic debate. . #pmqs"

  68. Back to the millennium?

    David Cameron, responding to the Labour leader, says that by 2019-20 day-to-day spending on public services will be at its lowest level in real terms since 2002-2003, when Labour was in power. Ed Miliband responds by saying the prime minister has spent four years saying we spent too much and now he's saying we spent too little. Is he saying the OBR is wrong?

  69. Isabel Hardman, assistant editor of The Spectator

    @IsabelHardman

    Tweets: "Interesting Miliband has gone so quickly into politics #pmqs"

  70. Pic: Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband
    Image caption: Ed Miliband tackles the PM on future spending plans
  71. Back to the 1930s?

    On to his first question, and Ed Miliband quotes the OBR as saying the government's deficit reduction plans will take public spending back to the levels of the 1930s. Why has the OBR joined the BBC in a conspiracy against the government's spending cuts? he asks.

  72. Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington

    @HackneyAbbott

    Tweets: "Clegg is back! #pmqs"

  73. Military at Christmas

    David Cameron and Ed Miliband have both paid tribute to British military personnel serving around the world, commending their dedication and bravery.

  74. Miliband echoes tributes

    Labour leader Ed Miliband is on his feet, and echoes the prime minister's tributes to the two hostages killed in the Sydney cafe siege, and victims of Tuesday's Taliban attack at a school killed in Pakistan. He says the "slaughter of innocent children" in their classrooms has shocked the world.

  75. Andrew Sinclair, political correspondent for BBC East

    @andrewpolitics

    Tweets: "Press gallery in commons rather empty today. Am I missing something? #pmqs (and chamber to come to mention it)"

  76. Rail services

    The first question is from Tory Oliver Colville on the need for better rail services to his Plymouth constituency. Mr Cameron says there have to be "real resilience and better services" to the south west of England. Mr Cameron also uses the question to highlight Wednesday's fall in unemployment.

  77. Pic: David Cameron

    David Cameron
    Image caption: David Cameron opens the last Prime Minister's Questions of the year
  78. Owen Bennett, Daily Express political reporter

    @owenjbennett

    Tweets: "Last #pmqs before Xmas. Expect some 'you're a Xmas Turkey'/ 'your goose is cooked' lines"

  79. Terror attacks

    David Cameron is on his feet. He starts by condemning the terrorist attack on a cafe in Sydney and the Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan, saying the latter attack was "heartbreaking" and has left the world "shocked and numb".

  80. Political Editor sets the scene

    The BBC's Nick Robinson says both leaders will want to leave their MPs "feeling good" ahead of the Christmas recess. He thinks the Labour leader may raise the deficit to focus on Conservative cuts.

  81. International Decvelopment

    The Commons chamber is filling up. Justine Greening and her ministerial team at the Department for International Development are fielding questions.

  82. Immigration?

    Expect Conservative MPs to take a swipe at Labour over its stance on immigration, after a leaked document suggested the party wanted its MPs to "move the conversation" away from immigration when campaigning in constituencies.

  83. Greens in a coalition?

    In the event of a hung parliament, Natalie Bennett says the Green Party would not "prop up" a Conservative government, but would be open to a "confidence and supply" agreement with Labour.

  84. Green predictions

    Speaking to the BBC 2 Daily Politics programme, Natalie Bennett, Green Party in England and Wales leader, predicts the political landscape could be broken "wide open" after the election, and that the the first-past-the-post electoral system will be "exposed" as "out of date".

  85. Conservative lines?

    David Cameron will likely want to draw attention to the latest economic figures, which show UK unemployment has fallen by 63,000 to 1.96 million in the quarter, while earnings growth is rising.

  86. Labour lines?

    Labour leader Ed Miliband could use his questions to focus on the NHS, or the government's plans to cut the deficit.

  87. What's on the agenda?

    So what can we expect to come up at today's session? The leaders are likely to raise the Taliban attack at a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, which killed at least 132 children and nine staff.

  88. Morning

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the last Prime Minister's Questions of the year. David Cameron and Ed Miliband will no doubt be hoping to put in strong performances to rally their troops as MPs head off for the Christmas break.