Peter Hoskin

PMQs live blog | 18 May 2011

VERDICT: That was probably the most straightforward PMQs that Ed Miliband will ever experience. Thanks to Ken Clarke, the Labour leader had several shots into an open goal — and most were excuted efficiently, if not skilfully. Cameron was left in an unforgiving position, and he just about hung in there, eventually mustering some sort of defence and then turning it around to Labour’s mismanagement of the criminal justice system. It was an intriguing exchange, not least because it presaged what could become a major problem for the Tories — their crime and justice policy — and how Labour might exploit it. And it was all supplemented by a set of backbench questions that ran the gamut from blistering to blithering. For once, a PMQs to really remember.

1231: And that’s it. My verdict shortly.

Much laughter as Cameron says that he had never heard of Mark Britnell — a man who was said to be advising him on the NHS, and who controversially suggested that Lansley’s reforms would show “no mercy” to the service. Cameron goes on: “I did my research, and discovered that he did, in fact, advise the Labour government.”

1228: Labour’s Jenny Chapman says that women find the idea of shortened setences for rapists “abhorrent” — will any such plans be dropped from the government’s consultation on the matter? Cameron repeats his answer to Ed Miliband, although more surefootedly this time: the coalition is not proposing this, and it will treat rape “very seriously”.

1227: Cameron admits that there are “massive divisions” when it comes to the idea of Lords reform. But he adds that the government is united on the notion that both the Houses of Commons and Lords should be “predominantly elected”. Some support for Clegg after his torrid appearance yesterday.

1224: Dennis Skinner is Dennis Skinner.

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