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Cameron and Harman love-in at her last Prime Minister's questions as Leader of the Opposition

By Paul Goodman

Highlights, not verbatim:

Screen shot 2010-09-15 at 12.38.00 Given the TUC Conference and the week to date, one might have expected Prime Minister's Questions this week to host ferocious exchanges about "cuts".

Instead, the session saw a love-in between David Cameron and Harriet Harman at her last session as Leader of the Opposition.  Harman's questions concerned the trafficking of girls for sex - a means of demonstrating her commitment to womens' issues over many years, rather than a way of putting the Prime Minister under pressure over the issues of the moment.

All in all, a lull before the storm when Parliament returns after the Party Conferences.

12.00: The Prime Minister pays tribute to Kingsman Darren Deady, who was killed in Afghanistan.

12.01: Julian Smith says from the Conservative backbenches that it's the height of irresponsibility for former Labour ministers to encourage strikes, and that they "should be ashamed of themselves".  Sounds like a Whips' handout question to me.

12.01: Cameron says that it's the "height of irresponsibility" for Shadow Ministers to troop off to the TUC and encourage strikes.

12.02: Harman says that the words the Prime Minister used to describe his father "touched everyone", commiserates with him on his loss and congratulates the Camerons on the birth of their daughter.  She says that trafficking girls for sex is an "evil trade", says that the parties are "united in abhorrence" and asks for a statement of the Government's view.

12.04: Cameron thanks Harman and Straw for their comments, and others for their letters.  He says that she's "by far the most popular" of three Labour leaders he's battled (a none-too-subtle reminder that he'll soon be on his fourth) and says that she's been a "thorough credit" as stand-in leader.  He adds that says slavery is still with us - and that trafficking girls for sex is the worst manifestation of it.

12.04: Harman says "It's just as well that I'm not wearing a hoodie today" (geddit?), and asks if the Government will opt in to the EU's Human Trafficking Directive.

12.05: Cameron says that the Government's already put everything in place to combat trafficking that's in the directive - but warns about the consequences for borders and securities if Ministers sign up.

12.08: Harman asks "one last question before I go" (sighs of mock regret from the Conservative benches). 
Will the Prime Minister bring back PMQS twice a week "now he knows how enjoyable it is".

12.08: Cameron says that having a longer session once a week us "one of few things that Tony Blair did that I approve of".  He refers to the opportunity of grilling "people in my office" about what Ministers have been up to.  He points out that Harman has had four votes in the Labour leadership election, and Jack Dromey, her MP husband, three: "democracy's a beautiful thing".

12.11: Peter Bone asks for more free votes on committee stage of the AV bill - referring back to Conservative approval of more free votes in Opposition.  Cameron doesn't confirm that these will happen.  Very much not a Whips handout question.

12.17 Priti Patel asks Cameron, in a dig at the Opposition, what can be learned from Castro's new support for spending cuts.  Could well have been from the Whips' handout.   Cameron says that the question now is how "to get the Opposition on to the same planet".

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