Peter Hoskin

PMQs live blog | 27 October 2010

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VERDICT: The housing benefit cuts inspired Ed Miliband's chosen attack – and he deployed it quite effectively, with none of the unclarity that we saw last week. For the most part, though, Cameron stood firm – leaning on his favourite rhetorical stick, What Would Labour Do? – and his final flurry against Ed Miliband was enough, I think, to win him this encounter on points. But don't expect this housing benefit issue to dissipate quickly. Bob Russell's question was evidence enough of how tricky this could be for the coalition.

1232:
And that's it. My quick verdict shortly.

1231: Bob Russell, a Lib Dem, says that housing benefit cuts are "not a laughing matter," and urges the PM to reconsider the coalition's position. Cameron agrees that this is a serious issue, and argues, as he that he did to MiliE, that a £20,000 cap will should not force people to be homeless.

1230: More WWLD? from Cameron. "The choice you made," he points at a Labour backbencher, "is not to make a point." On the banks, he points out that the coalition have introduced a levy, whereas Labour didn't in 13 years of power. For good measure, he notes that Ed Miliband was a Treasury adviser in that time.

1229:
Another reference to yesterday's growth figures. Cameron is painting Labour as anti-private sector, claiming that the party "dont want to admit" that "4/5ths of yesterday's growth came form the private sector."

1227: More on BSF, with another question on which schools will face cuts and which won't. Cameron says, "we inherited a mess from Labour on Building Schools for the Future," and adds that school building funds will rise.

1225: Tom Harris raises on of Labour's favourite new attack points: that the Tories backed Labour's spending plans until November 2008. Cameron relies bluntly: "We realised they were unaffordable, and we came of them."

1224: Emma Reynolds reheats the BSF debate, asking whether schools in her constituency will face "draconian cuts of 40 percent". My connection cut out, so didn't catch the response, apologies.

1221: Labour benches groan as Cameron refers to "difficult decisions" again. He responds with more WWLD?

1220: Cameron highlights that the government will be spending £17 billion on a range of defence projects with BAE.

1218: The SNP's Angus Robertson says that the defence cuts are "disproportionately" hitting Scotland. Cameron points out that the two aricraft carriers are being constructed in Scotland, and adds rather sharply: "If you had an independent Scotland, you wouldn't be flying plans - you'd be flying by the seat of your pants."

1216: Kate Hoey backs up the PM's message, urging him to resist Europe's attempts to get more money for us. Cameron replies, "We would be assisted if Labour MEPs didn't keep voting for budget increases."

1214: Just like last week, a question on EU integration from the Tory backbenches. Cameron suggests that Britain will sit aside from any treaty designed so that Eurozone members can push more money towards Greece. He adds that Britain's "priority" should be to resist increases in the EU budget.

1212: The PM confirms that he's an Ocado customer. He also wonders how committed David Bluckett was to localisation in government.

1211: There we go, Cameron quotes the leaked PMQs memo in the Time: "You've got to have a Cheer Line..." The coalition benches cheer as Cameron quips, "He's got a plan for PMQs, but not for the economy..."

1209: A limp gag from Miliband, who says that the Lib Dem backbenches look "glum," but Clegg looks "glummer" - "no wonder he's back on the fags."

1208:
Cameron shifting onto the front front. He quotes the leaked Labour memo on the economy from yesterday: "if you've got nothing to say, best not to say anything."

1208:
Strong line from Cameron: "If we are prepared to give out £20,000 in housing benefits, there should be no need for people to be without a home."

1207: Cameron admits that people will lose out because of the coalition's benefit reforms - but he wants to get them back into work.

1206:
Shouts of "answer the question" from the Labour benches. Cameron stresses, "we're sticking to our plans".

1205:
Cameron doesn't give a yes or no answer when asked, again, whether there will be any changes to the housing benefit reforms. Although he does say that the government will press ahead with its reforms. Another dose of 'What Would Labour Do?' (WWLD?)

1204: Cameron suggests that the coalition is presisng ahead with its changes, which are "tough" because the government wants to protect spending elsewhere. He deploys one of his favourite lines: what would Labour do?

1203: Ed Miliband leads, expectedly, on housing benefit. He asks whether the coalition are going to change their reforms.

1201:
Cameron begins with the usual condolences for the fallen in Afghanistan. The first question, from Harriet Baldwin, refers to "the excellent growth figures yesterday." Cameron says that they were "driven by the private sector." He quips that "members opposite who were waiting for a doule dip are suffering a double depression."

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