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The irrelevance of PMQs, with no questions on possible Irish bailout

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-11-17 at 12.12.46 Andrew Neil on Daily Politics has just voiced my big conclusion from today's PMQs. Nothing at all on the Irish bailout. It's the biggest issue with Britain potentially committing billions to an EU rescue plan. But Harriet Harman said nothing. No backbencher probed David Cameron about the issue either.

Police Harriet Harman, standing in for Ed Miliband while the Labour leader is on maternity leave, instead asked about police numbers. She noted that David Cameron had promised on 2nd May to forbid any Cabinet minister from making cuts to frontline services but will he guarantee that police numbers will be protected now? The PM turned the tables, referring to Alan Johnson, who when Home Secretary for Labour, wouldn't guarantee that police numbers would stay the same. The Prime Minister said that it will be for individual police forces to make efficiency cuts and pool services. Their success in doing that would determine police numbers.

The Deputy Labour leader said that the PM should cancel his plan for elected police chiefs. This would save £100m, she said, and could be invested in keeping police on the streets. Cameron replied that elected police chiefs were an essential reform that would ensure under-performing police chiefs were removed by voters.

The PM accused Ms Harman of a "cheap game" after she attacked him for employing a "vanity photographer". He started to list Labour people who had been employed by the last government but was stopped by John Bercow, who said PMQs must focus on Government policies.


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