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At PMQs, Ed Miliband asks David Cameron about Ken Clarke's policies and the NHS

By Matthew Barrett
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PMQs June 2011

In the first PMQs after a short recess, the Prime Minister seemed calm and didn't struggle with questions. Ed Miliband, on the other hand, seemed flustered and, at times, angry. 

Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock) asked the Prime Minister to condemn the Syrian Government. He called the violence “unacceptable”, said he would be tabling a resolution condemning the repression.

Ed Miliband asked whether the PM has “torn up” Ken Clarke’s justice policy. Cameron reiterated that there was wide consultation. Ed Miliband noted “wide-spread concern”. Cameron responded that Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan praised the planned reforms.

Ed Miliband then moved on to NHS reforms. Cameron taunted him by saying there was “more than a whiff of jumping on a bandwagon” and responded by quoting the Shadow Health Secretary John Healey as praising the "listening" process. Mr Cameron pointed out that it was Labour policy to cut funding on the NHS and further pointed out that the “only bit of the country” still controlled by Labour, Wales, is the only area where health spending is being cut. 

Ed Miliband noted waiting times had gone up and asked why the government had scrapped waiting time targets. Cameron accused Miliband of “misleading the House of Commons” and Speaker John Bercow asked him to withdraw his comment. Cameron instead accused Ed Miliband of an “interesting use of facts”. The PM then accused Labour of "empty opposition".

Ed Miliband accused Cameron of trying to start a "free market free-for-all" in the NHS. Miliband then said that any changes to the NHS would not be because Cameron wanted to make them but because “he’s been found out”. Cameron then listed the coalition's achievements in public services, accused Miliband of having no plans and again of “empty opposition”.


  • ŸRobin Walker (Worcester) told the Prime Minister that headmasters in his constituency had highlighted long-term schools under-funding due to the last government’s flawed funding formula, and asked the Prime Minister not just to consult, but to act to reform the complex funding system. The Prime Minister agreed there were problems with education funding, and said the government wants to reform the funding system. 
  • Chuka Umunna, (Lab) Streatham, raised the case of a murdered constituent and asked the Prime Minister to do all he can to end "senseless loss of life”. The Prime Minister offered his condolences to the family. Cameron said too many people turn to gangs rather than family.
  • Richard Harrington (Watford) asked whether the IMF or the Guardian letters page was correct on the economy. Cameron highlighted IMF praise for the government’s plans.
  • ŸPhilip Hollobone (Kettering) asked why magistrates have to retire at 70, when Ken Clarke, who appoints them, is 71. Cameron stressed the importance of “turnover” amongst magistrates and praised Ken Clarke saying he was doing a “fantastic job” and there was “plenty more fuel in his tank”.
  • ŸCameron was asked questions by Lindsay Roy (Lab) and Annette Brooke (Lib) on female pensioners and Cameron insisted that the government had the right policy and that people would be better off than under Labour.
  • ŸJames Wharton (Stockton South) asked if the PM would back opposition to Sepp Blatter. Cameron said that FIFA’s reputation was at “an all time low” and called for it to be more transparent and accountable.
  • Gareth Johnson (Dartford) called on PCTs to provide help for infertile couples. Cameron said he wanted everyone to have access to infertility treatment.
  • ŸJohn Woodcock (Labour) highlighted the sad case of a terminally ill patient and urged the Prime Minister to address why so few people are on the bone marrow transplant register. 
  • ŸSimon Hart (Carmarthen West) highlighted the explosion at the Chevron refinery. Cameron called it “tragic” and expressed his sympathy to those affected.
  • Russell Brown (Labour) highlighted a child poverty documentary and Cameron said we must do more for child poverty at home and abroad. He said that the aid budget was "a difficult promise to make” but in times of difficulty promises regarding child poverty should not be broken. Cameron said that the issue of domestic poverty was one of mobility and highlighted the pupil premium.
  • ŸMark Pawsey (Rugby) noted the fact that he had the only seat after which a sport was named and highlighted the Rugby World Cup later this year. The PM highlighted his support for the England team, and hoped it would be coming home to “one of the nations of the United Kingdom”, after having to tell Scottish and Welsh MPs to "calm down".
  • ŸTom Watson (Labour) made allegations about News International with regard to the phone hacking scandal and said “I believe powerful forces are involved in a cover up”. Cameron said that police were free to investigate whoever and whatever they want.
  • Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) asked the Prime Minister to support town centres. Cameron said he does support high streets and highlighted the Chancellor’s support with such plans as rate reliefs, and also expressed his wish for town centres not to be identical to each other.
  • ŸGisela Stuart (Labour) asked the PM to raise the Russian occupation of Georgia when he visits Moscow later this year. The PM affirmed his support for Georgia, and said he would raise the issue if or when he visits Russia.
  • ŸStephen Dorrell (Chair, Heath Committee) praised the Prime Minister’s NHS reform speech from yesterday, but his question was interrupted by the Speaker because of time issues. Cameron used the opportunity of his response to highlight support from various medical organisations for his speech yesterday.

And an update, on Nick Clegg's happiness. He seems to be in a good mood this week, compared to his recent miserable faces:CleggFace

2.30pm Update: videos from PMQs:


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