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Cameron and Harman clash over future (un)employment levels at PMQs

Highlights, not verbatim:

Picture 312.03 Responding to Labour MP Kevin Brennan, Cameron bemoans Labour's record on prisoners, highlighting that half are on drugs and many re-offend.

12.04 Harriet Harman cites today's Guardian report and asks if if it is true about the number of jobs likely to be lost after the cuts. Cameron say the OBR have today produced new forecasts of tables on employment showing that there will be 70,000 fewer public sector jobs next year and 150,000 the following year.

12.05 Cameron goes on to point out that even Alistair Darling was talking in terms of jobs cuts before the election. He also says that unemployment overall will fall during this parliament.

Picture 4 12.08 Harman claims there will be "abject misery" owing to increased unemployment. Cameron responds by repeating that unemployment is forecast by the OBR to fall. Does she support the public sector pay freeze to keep unemployment down?

12.09 Cameron repeats again that that there will be more people in work, so Harman's pre-prepared questions about losing tax receipts after increased unemployment are an own goal.

12.10 Harrnan makes her usual attack on the Lib Dems for backing the Tories. Cameron decides to share with the House what he thinks is the stupidest piece of government spending under Labour - £2.4 million doing up Harman's own department including tens of thousands of pounds on so-called "peace pods". They've gone from peaceniks to peace pods ands left us to clear up the mess, he concludes.

12.13 In answer to Labour's John Cryer who basically asked the same question as Harman about the Guardian article, Cameron repeats that growth in the private sector jobs will more than make up for the jobs losses in the public sector and these figures come from the new OBR, which is independent of government.

12.16 Cameron says that Labour are making a big mistake if they want to defend the status quo in the prison system, in response to a Labour MP. He says that the current prison system clearly isn't working and is urgently in need of reform.

12.19 Green MP Caroline Lucas wants to start talking to the Taleban now. Cameron says there should be "a political track" but that her proposal is "not advisable".

12.22 Yet another Labour MP asks about employment. Cameron accuses Labour of "playing a pathetic game" of pretending that there wouldn't have been cuts if they had been re-elected.

12.25 In reply to a question from Robin Walker about hospices, Cameron pays a warm tribute to Lord Walker, who died last week.

12.26 Labour MP Gordon Banks tries to expose a difference of opinion between Ken Clarke and Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie on short pison sentences. Cameron says that community sentences must be made tougher as an alternative to short prison sentences.

12.27 Tony Baldry invites Cameron to ignore the Telegraph's Simon Heffer who today calls for DfID to be abolished. Cameron says Baldry is "entirely right ".

Jonathan Isaby

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