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You hate the poor. You can't take any tough decision. Another forgettable PMQs.

By Tim Montgomerie
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Not a memorable PMQs and it will be overshadowed by the PM's Statement on the Francis Report (of which more later). But a few points:

  • Ed Miliband asked about the so-called bedroom tax and contrasted it with the Chancellor's decision to rule out a mansion-style tax. Labour MPs asked coordinated questions later in the session, backing up the Leader of the Opposition's attempt to paint the Coalition as making harsh cuts while protecting the rich.
  • Cameron's response was to justify the decision to end the anomaly whereby people in social housing received more help than people in private rented accommodation but also in receipt of housing benefit. He also noted today's IFS report which concluded that the Coalition had "hit the richest households hardest". Even The Mirror's Kevin Maguire has previously acknowledged this.
  • If Ed Miliband wanted to suggest the Coalition was on the wrong side of the fairness debate Mr Cameron wanted to say Labour was on the wrong side of the tough decisions debate. Housing benefit, the PM said, was costing £23 billion and yet again Labour opposed tough decisions - as they had on benefits uprating and the benefits cap.
Away from the leaders' questions...
  • Mr Cameron declined to agree that heterosexual couples should be able to join civil partnerships now that marriage was available to gay people. I'm a "marriage man" he said and wanted people to marry.
  • Responding to a question from James Arbuthnot Mr Cameron said defence spending would rise after 2015 but I was no wiser as to whether that was spending on equipment or also personnel.
  • The PM suggested that councils like Labour-controlled Manchester were making unnecessary "high profile cuts" to services such as libraries while maintaining large reserves.


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