David Blackburn

PMQs Liveblog

Text settings

15:00 Stay tuned for live coverage.

15:00: Clegg and Cameron sitting abreast and Douglas Carswell kicks the session off. And Cameron begins with the butcher's bill from Afghanistan. He makes a short statement about the rampage in Cumbria. Nothing about Gaza, thank God.

Carswell asks if the government will make all our lawmakers will be elected by the end of the year. Cameron promises a bill for a predominantly elected second chamber.

15:05: Harriet Harman stands up. It's Gaza and the Israeli blockade. Her delivery is clear, almost impressive.

Cameron answers with the facts about British nationals being held by Israel and describes himself as a friend of Israel and avers that the blockade strenghtens the hand of Hamas.

15:08: Next, Harman returns to the issue of accused rapist anonymity. Again she's clear and considered, gone is the shrillness of government. Cameron says they will look at it, as he did on the Home Affairs Select Committee - he is measured, quiet.

Harman follows by saying that the coalition's proposals sends a message victims that they won't be believed.

Cameron denies this, with a calm response saying that all are working to the same end.

15:10: Now things are hotting up. Harman tries to undermine the coalition of the issue of male marriage tax perk - how will that reduce the deficit she asks. Clegg is quiet and impassive. Cutting at last and returning the barbs, Cameron responds by saying that Labour recognised marriage in the inheritance tax system, uniting allowances: why shouldn't the poorest receive similar relief, he asks. Powerful stuff from both but Cameron shades it.

15:15: Chris Bryant asks about sustained defence expenditure and procurement. Mistake from the opposition and Cameron pounces: what happened to the defence spending review? They ditched is the answer. Still rather a quiet affair.

1519: A backbench plant allows Cameron to reel of the amount of money that Labour wasted on fripperies, flowers and consultants. Quite shocking, into the millions and billions.

15:21: Another plant allows Cameron to sell the transparency and fairness agenda with regard to civil service pay. This is followed by a question on the pupil premium. Then there's restored community hospital funding It's turning into a rather insipid wistlestop tour of the coalition's chief objectives, but Cameron is impressive in a quiet kind of way and he doesn't resort to jargon. There's an optimism to it.

15:24: Now the grant for electric cars at Nissan; the question is asked by a new Labour MP. Cameron can't give a direct figure, which looks evasive after his effusive support for the scheme, but he rescues it with a great gag in the direction of the uproarious Labour benches: 'I'm actually going to give accurate figures not make them up on the spot.' That's punchier, but still retains his earlier dignity.

15:27: Two questions on Afghanistan. Cameron pledges his absolute support to the mission, but not even he seems convinced NATO can win. Julian Lewis, the shadow minister who lost out on a ministerial job, talks about the Bridgehead scheme. Cameron politely rejects the suggestion, which may or may not be revealing.

15:30: Labour MP Ian Davidson cracks a few gags at the Lib Dem's expense but cut short by Bercow.

15:31: Gordon Marsden, the Labour MP with an interest in mental health stress among soldiers. He's worried that £2m has been cut from the budget. Cameron gives him his word that those services will be protected.

15:32: Cameron straight-bats a Tory backbench question opposing the Human Rights Act, which will not be abolished courtesy of the coalition agreement.

15:34: The new Labour MP fpr Gateshead wants the RDAs to be developed. Cameron says that those who want to keep RDAs can, but he defends his revolution in localism and is adamant that many RDAs are wasteful. Verdict to follow.

VERDICT: It was a very polite and respectful affair. Harman was at her most persuasive on her bugbear issue: anonymity of rape defendents. She's seems a totally different performer in opposition, nowhere near as harping and shrill. That said, she is severely limited by Labour's dreadful record. She brought her final questions on marriage round to deficit reduction eventually, but Labour's legacy is so toxic they can't attack in any force on that issue. If the coalition carries out its work of stabilising the national finances, Cameron will win these exchanges, as he did today. Whilst showing flashes of his combative self, he was calm, clear and dignified and there wasn't a tractor stat in sight. On the basis of this, he has mastered the transformation from asking questions to answering them.