Prime Minister's questions

No need to reload page, content updates automatically.

  1. 1526: That wraps up our live coverage of the reaction to Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review. But the debate goes on on the BBC News website. Political editor Nick Robinson and economics editor Stephanie Flanders will continue blogging on the issues thrown up. And, all the latest developments will be covered online, on TV and on radio. Please join us again next Wednesday for our live coverage of prime minister's questions.
  2. 1715: Commenting on universities minister David Willetts' remarks effectively ruling out allowing the setting of unlimited fees, Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of leading universities, says it "would be a real waste of an opportunity to allow our leading universities to provide the high-quality education that their students deserve".
  3. 1649: Ben Page, chief executive of polling firm Ipsos Mori, says: "The public do buy the argument that something has to be done on the deficit. Six out of 10 of us agree there has to be public spending cuts." But people are "split down the middle" over whether the right areas are being cut.
  4. 1643: BBC education correspondent Angela Harrison says: Universities minister David Willetts, appearing in front of vice-chancellors a day after they learned how much their funds were being cut, joked that he was staying for dinner but that he hoped he would not be eaten. National Union of Students president Aaron Porter asked Mr Willetts if the government was abolishing funding for courses in the arts and social sciences. He replied that the "funding remains but it flows in a different way".
  5. 1623: Neil O'Brien, director of the Policy Exchange think-tank, says the Spending Review will mean "a relatively moderate squeeze on the welfare budget". The government could have gone further and means tested child benefit, he adds.
  6. 1605: Some more on universities minister David Willetts' comments on tuition fees. He said: "It is not sustainable or sensible to imagine having an unlimited fee cap. These are all areas the coalition government is looking at."
  7. 1557: Ray Walton, from Tunbridge Wells, writes: "It seems crazy to be talking of raising the pension age while young families will be thrown out of work. Surely early retirement would be the kindest and fairest to all." Have Your Say
  8. 1552: Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children's Society, says: "The IFS report shows what a bitter pill the Spending Review cuts are to swallow. The Children's Society believes that children in poor families will pay the biggest price of all as the government reins in its spending."
  9. 1550: BBC education correspondent Angela Harrison says: David Willetts, the universities and science minister, has in effect ruled out allowing universities to set unlimited fees. He told a university vice chancellors' meeting in London an unlimited fee cap would not be sustainable or sensible.
  10. 1547: Imran Hussain of the Child Poverty Action Group said: "The IFS analysis is a devastating dismissal of the chancellor's hollow claims of fairness yesterday. The government's reputation on fairness is now shot to pieces. The IFS have made clear the awful truth that families with children are hardest hit.
  11. 1542: Natalie Dunn, from Sunderland, writes: "I think it's shocking that people on a low income or income support are being affected when they are barely managing to live on what they get." Have Your Say
  12. 1530: Dominic Campbell tweets: "Before we have an open government, we need an honest government." Read Dominic Campbell's tweets
  13. 1523: David Taylor, from Left Foot Forward, writes: "The commitment to ring fence UK aid and reach 0.7 per cent of GDP is welcome ? However, as with the rest of the Spending Review, behind the rhetoric there are real concerns and real questions that need answering.""
  14. 1508: Carl Emmerson, acting director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, says: "The tax and benefit changes are regressive rather than progressive across most of the income distribution. And when we add in the new measures announced yesterday this is, unsurprisingly, reinforced." He adds: "So our analysis continues to show that, with the notable exception of the richest 2%, the tax and benefit components of the fiscal consolidation are, overall, being implemented in a regressive way. But this is not to say that it is unfair: fairness will always be in the eye of the beholder."
  15. 1455: Plaid Cymru's justice spokesman Elfyn Llwyd criticises cuts made to the prisons budget. He says: "The Ministry of Justice wants prison places to be cut back, but how can this be possible when 10,000 prison and probation officers are set to lose their jobs? With fewer trained officers there to help people on remand and with rehabilitation, the re-offending rate will only increase - which is precisely the opposite of what we need to see."
  16. 1445: Margaret Lynch, the multiple sclerosis sufferer who pressed David Cameron and Nick Clegg over the effects of spending cuts on the disabled during their trip to Nottingham, says "time will tell" whether their assurances that services can be preserved are to be believed.
  17. 1432: Labour's John Healey has written to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley claiming the NHS funding settlement "falls far short" of the promises made by the coalition. He says the Spending Review ignores the rising costs faced in maintaining the standard of healthcare in England.
  18. 1418: The OECD international think-tank praises the Spending Review measures as "tough, necessary and courageous". Secretary General Angel Gurria says: "Acting decisively now is the best way to secure better public finances and bolster future growth." She adds: "While major budgetary consolidations are always painful, the Spending Review takes several important steps towards minimising the effects on growth, by mitigating cuts in infrastructure investment and prioritising education and research spending."
  19. 1412: So what did the PM and deputy PM have for their school lunch after their questions session in Nottingham? Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg reportedly sat opposite each other as they consumed a hearty meal of Quorn wrap with broccoli and new potatoes. Both declined the sponge pudding, but ate from blue trays as they chatted with pupils.
  20. 1406: Richard Beck, from Holywood, Northern Ireland, writes: "Surely the people who mismanaged our finances in the first place should be held accountable and they should be penalised to a greater extent as compared to the average worker. Osborne's 'fairness' seems to be very one-sided". Have Your Say
  21. 1359: Commenting on the warning from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that the Spending Review could cost 750,000 jobs, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber says: "It is now becoming clear just how much of the Spending Review was driven not by economics, but by a political project. Voters have always rejected policies to make huge cuts to public services at the ballot box. But yesterday the government launched a radical programme to roll back public services and sack public sector staff, even if this makes it more likely that the economy goes into reverse."
  22. 1353: Asked about defence, David Cameron says it must be a first priority, but adds: "There are savings being made and frankly there are some savings that should be made." It is right to bring troops back from Germany, he says.
  23. 1347: On taxes, Nick Clegg says: "In the real world it is the richest who are paying the most. There is no doubt about that at all."
  24. 1344: David Cameron says protecting overseas aid was a difficult decision but the right one. Many countries are poorer than Britain, he adds, saying: "I think we do have a moral responsibility not to give up on them." Britain should take pride in helping the poorer countries at this difficult time, the PM argues.
  25. 1341: The deputy prime minister says: "We are dealing with a crisis that is very difficult to touch or feel. Our economy has shrunk but we were still spending money as if it hadn't. You can't expect our children and grandchildren to pick up the tab."
  26. 1337: Nick Clegg says asking the public for their suggestions on how to save money generated 100,000 responses. David Cameron reveals that he read through a number of them at home. "It was a very useful exercise," he says.
  27. 1334: Getting to grips with the deficit is "essential to get confidence and growth", David Cameron says.
  28. 1331: John Fraser, of Liberal Democrat Voice, writes: "If cuts were purely to balance the books, and the economic forecasts of the coalition were correct, there would come a time possibly during a hypothetical second parliament when some of the cuts could be reversed. "
  29. 1328: David Cameron says he'd wanted to keep child benefit universal but the "black hole" of the deficit meant that was not possible. "Sometimes you do have to eat the words that you've said. Nick did it on tuition fees and I have had to on child benefit."
  30. 1325: On tuition fees Nick Clegg says he feels "really bad" about signing a pre-election pledge not to raise tuition fees and later backing their increase.
  31. 1322: David Cameron says ultimately everyone's job would be affected if the deficit was not cut.
  32. 1318: On fairness, David Cameron says wealthier people are paying proportionately more in tax. Nick Clegg says the Spending Review has been done as fairly as it could have been.
  33. 1311: To laughs David Cameron says: "I agree with Nick." Prisoners should work in prison but the priority was to stop people reoffending when they come out.
  34. 1308: David Cameron and Nick Clegg are taking questions from the public for a radio programme. Nick Clegg says the government wants prisoners to work in prison to help pay back their victims.
  35. 1302: Steve, from Surrey, writes: "As a pensioner who will be hit by the cuts, they are right. The coalition govt is trying to put right what a large percentage of the thinking people have been talking about for years" Have Your Say
  36. 1300: Job losses as a result of the Spending Review could be much higher than expected 490,000 says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. John Philpott, chief economic adviser says: "CIPD estimates that the public sector jobs impact of the CSR to 2014/15 will be above 500,000, with total job losses rising close to 750,000 by 2015/16 if the coalition sticks to its existing longer term spending plans."
  37. 1254: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says going slower to reduce the deficit would not be a cost free option. He tells Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 that Britian is paying £120m a day in interest on government debt - enough to build a primary school every hour of the day.
  38. 1251: So what do we know we don't know yet about the Spending Review's impact - the BBC's business team has picked out some of the known unknowns from Wednesday's statement.
  39. 1246: BBC science correspondent Jonathan Amos says: The UK space industry is hopeful the Spending Review and its emphasis on growth will work out well for its companies. Soon to be released figures showed the sector grew by an average 10% a year right through the recession.
  40. 1245: BBC health reporter Nick Triggle says: Shadow health secretary John Healey has written to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley questioning whether the NHS is really getting an above inflation rise. He is arguing that the money the NHS has to earmark for social care, coupled with the cost associated with the reorganisation of the health service under the recent White Paper plans means it is not.
  41. 1243: Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson says 490,000 public sector job cuts from the Spending Review could cost the taxpayer £8bn. He bases his estimate on the redundancy bill for the Ministry of Justice, where 14,000 staff are set to lose their jobs at a cost of £230m.
  42. 1238: The Taxpayer's Alliance says the Spending Review has done just enough to get the deficit under control but could have done more. Director, Matthew Sinclair says a freeze on the International Development budget and pay cuts for the best paid public sector staff, would have delivered better value for taxpayers.
  43. 1230: Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles says the government could take action to limit "golden goodbye" payouts to council chiefs. He tells the Commons: "It is completely unacceptable. If local authorities do not act themselves on this it will leave the Government no alternative but to take the necessary action."
  44. 1225: Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson is backing the government's decision to increase international aid. He tells Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 that boosting aid is enlightened self interest. "That's what we would have done. We would have ringfenced international development," he says.
  45. 1217: Deputy director general of the CBI John Cridland says there is no alternative to the cuts. He tells the BBC News Channel: "We in the business community believe it is right to cut quickly."
  46. 1210: In France, Le Monde newspaper says the austerity package "will change Britain" and signals a dramatic decline in the welfare state.
  47. 1207: David Allen Green tweets: "Am not sorry that the coalition cuts are going to hit the public sector consultancy gravy train so hard. Absolute - but hidden - scandal." Read David Allen Green's tweets
  48. 1205: In Germany, Die Welt newspaper notes the "calm response of the British, despite the bad news" in the Spending Review. The paper suggests the explanation may be that the economic pain to be inflicted had been well trailed in advance.
  49. 1200: Mehdi Hasan, for the New Statesman, writes: "The idea that ministers are guided by the interests of the public at large, rather than those of the insular and privileged elite from which they are drawn, is laughable."
  50. 1151: Around 200,000 claimants could lose Employment Support Allowance as a result of the decision in the Spending Review to time-limit the benefit to 12 months, the BBC learns. DWP sources say those affected will not include the seriously disabled and ill who will still be able to claim.
  51. 1149: Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage says if Britain left the EU there would be no need for the cuts announced in the Spending Review. He says: "Britain will be paying, at current rates, £82bn to Brussels over the next five years. Neatly matching the £81bn in reduced expenditure announced by George Osborne over the same period."
  52. 1147: BBC education correspondent Angela Harrison says: England's council leaders, meeting in London, were told by Local Government Association chairman Baroness Eaton that "these cuts will hurt. We know this means there will be fewer libraries, more pot holes going unrepaired, parks shutting earlier and youth clubs closing."
  53. 1145: Universities minister David Willetts says the tuition fees cap will rise to £3,375 for students starting full-time courses next September. In a written statement to MPs he says the increase is in line with inflation.
  54. 1144: Joshua May, from Stoke, writes: "Osborne's actions are clear-cut and decisive. The markets have reflected the actions he has taken and applauded him for it. If we are to retain credit rating (look at Greece to see what happens when it is downgraded), difficult decisions had to be made and he made them." Have Your Say
  55. 1140: Housing minister Grant Shapps is defending plans to bring social housing rents closer to around 80% of private sector levels. He tells the Commons: "It's a more viable option, it means that less money can produce more homes and it means that new investment will come into providing homes for the most needy in society who were so badly let down by a government who only produced a 14,000 net gain in affordable homes during a 13-year period in office."
  56. 1130: Tweetminster's Alberto Nardelli tweets: "Would be interesting to know how the proposed bank levy relates to off-balance sheet world." Read Alberto Nardelli's tweets
  57. 1125: Political bloggers debate the similarities between George Osborne and Gordon Brown when he was chancellor. The Economist's Blighty blog says Mr Osborne echoed Mr Brown's use of "evasive" language and euphemisms, favouring the word savings instead of cuts. Read more takes on the Spending Review in the See Also blog
  58. 1119: The Labour MP for Darlington, Jenny Chapman, tweets: "Steep cuts being made too quickly and gambling with North East jobs, the Tories just don't get our region." Read Jenny Chapman's tweets
  59. 1112: Even coins have fallen prey to spending cuts. The small print in the Spending Review says the Royal Mint is to produce cheaper versions of 5p and 10p coins from January and put them into circulation in April. The change could cause problems for people using vending machines and parking metres, as the new coins will be slightly thicker.
  60. 1106: The government has published draft legislation on the bank levy announced as part of the Budget in June. The levy is designed to encourage less risky funding and will apply to the global balance sheets of UK banks, and the UK operations of banks from other countries. Once fully in place, it is expected to generate around £2.5bn a year.
  61. 1102: Hardyal Dhindsa, from Derby, writes: "I think there is a need to reduce the deficit but not at this speed, targeting the poorest and the most vulnerable." Have Your Say
  62. 1055: Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond is to seek a meeting with Defence Secretary Liam Fox over the Strategic Defence Review, which outlined the scope of cuts to that area of spending. He says: "We need absolute clarity on what the UK government are actually proposing. And we will press the UK government to honour their pledge to engage fully with communities before final decisions are made, as we step up our campaign to protect Scotland's defence industry."
  63. 1049: David Blackburn, for the Spectator's Coffee House, writes: "Osborne's cuts have come and life, the universe and everything continues insouciantly. In fact, the cuts were nowhere near as deep as many expected."
  64. 1045: Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham tweets: "Surprised not more fuss about Pupil Premium. Clegg's big fig leaf is a con. He said it'd be extra. It's not." Read Andy Burnham's tweets
  65. 1040: Margaret Eaton, chairman of the Local Government Association, says she believes 100,000 jobs in local authorities will go. She says: "That's one in 10 of the workforce. Of course we'll try and do this as flexibly and sympathetically as we can. Some jobs will go in natural wastage, not filling vacancies and voluntary redundancy. But there will be job losses where real people dedicated in their profession won't be there any more."
  66. 1037: BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh says: Science was to have received very deep cuts to its funding until 11th hour representations were made to the prime minister by Business Secretary Vince Cable and and science minster David Willetts.
  67. 1034: Benedict Brogan, for the Telegraph, writes: "Two years ago, the chancellor was on the brink of his own career bankruptcy, laid low by his love of political intrigue and mischief-making. Yet in office he has been transformed into the commanding politician of the day."
  68. 1030: Carl Emmerson, acting director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, says the Spending Review will hit the poor hardest. "The benefit cuts on average will impact those in the bottom half of the income distribution more than the top half of the income distribution. Therefore, they are regressive. And the public service cuts, it's hard to know who loses from that, but the Treasury's best estimate... again suggests that the bottom half will lose more than the top half."
  69. 1024: Alastair Campbell tweets: In Brighton for a public services conference. People feeling pretty gloomy despite weather and seafront looking great." Read Alastair Campbell's tweets
  70. 1019: Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron tells the BBC News Channel the Spending Review was fairer than it would have been if either Labour or the Conservatives had been in government on their own. "It can never be fair enough. We have to look after the least well off," he says.
  71. 1014: Johann Hari, of the Independent, writes: "George Osborne has just gambled your future on an extreme economic theory that has failed whenever and wherever it has been tried."
  72. 1010: David Joynson, from St Albans, writes: "These are necessary changes. There seems to be a myth that lots of public spending makes us better off but the reverse is the case." Have Your Say
  73. 1003: Chancellor George Osborne tells the BBC the Spending Review announcement was fair: "I have made a conscious choice. I have decided to try to sustain spending on the National Health Service, on our schools, on some of the important infrastructure like our roads and green energy. I have chosen, in part, to pay for that, as part of the deficit reduction plan, by trying to curb the rise in the benefits bill. That has involved some hard choices but I think they are fair choices."
  74. 0957: The Institute for Fiscal Studies says further tax rises or deeper spending cuts may be needed if George Osborne's measures fail to get Britain's books back in balance.
  75. 0955: Shadow chancellor Alan Johnson opens the day-after attack on the Spending Review by focusing on fairness. He tells BBC Radio 4: "What most people saw yesterday, from a budget that is increasingly being shown to be unfair as well as unwise and even untruthful in respect of some of the statistics, is a return to what they expect from the Conservative Party."
  76. 0953: Hello and welcome to our coverage of the reaction to the announcements made in Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review. The experts are poring over the details, while politicians are giving their considered appraisals of the £81bn savings package.

Live video

Key points

  1. Chancellor George Osborne has defended his Spending Review, which included an £81bn package of spending cuts, saying it is vital to preventing "economic ruin"
  2. For Labour, shadow chancellor Alan Johnson has called the programme "unfair" and "unwise"
  3. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says Mr Osborne's policies are "regressive", but the international OECD says they are a "necessary step" towards balancing the UK's books
  4. Bloggers' reaction to the announcement
  5. Here are the key details of the review.
  6. Reporter: Len Freeman

Get in touch

More on This Story

More Politics stories