PMQs as-it-happened

Review all the twists and turns of this week's prime minister's questions with's live blog.

By Alex Stevenson

12:38 – So that's the end of a thoroughly enjoyable session. The headline clash between Miliband and Cameron seemed to follow the pattern of previous weeks, although it suffered from the disadvantage of a repeated question receiving very similar answers from the PM, again and again. At least there was enough to keep us entertained in the backbench questions which followed. Let us know what you think on Twitter @politics_co_uk! And come back in an hour or so when we'll be able to offer you our sketch and updated news stories. Thanks for reading!

12:36 – Time for a question from Dennis Skinner, the Beast of Bolsover, who wants to know: "Doesn't he agree that the British people deserve an answer as to why he appointed one of Murdoch's top lieutenants to the heart of the British government. I will be delighted to appear before the Leveson inquiry whenever I am invited." And then -shock horror! – the prime minister launches a monstrous attack on Skinner's age. "It's good to see the honourable gentleman… I always say to my children there's no need to go to the Natural History Museum to see a dinosaur, just comes to the Commons at about half past 12." Shocking!

12:34 – Aidan Burley gets heckled, as expected, but the badmouthers get shushed as he asks a question about a rather alarming story of a child kidnapping. Cameron says the case is "simply appalling" and explains what's being done to deal with the problem. He says the National Crime Agency planned by the coalition willb e able to help out.

12:32 – Next comes a question about Abu Qatada, who won't be deported after a ruling from the European court of human rights yesterday. Cameron says he doesn't really understand the thinking behind it. "It's immensely frustrating," he says. Britain, with "a long tradition of human rights, should be able to deport people who mean us harm". He says he's going to make the argument in Strasbourg next week for reform of the ECHR.

12:21 – "Last week on the Syrian border," begins Richard Graham, the Gloucester MP. He demands that countries should stop selling arms to Syria. Cameron says Britain should lead the way in tightening asset freezes and travel bans against Syria. He points the finger against Iran and says Hizbullah, the Lebanese organisation, is also supporting Bashar al-Assad – "this wretched tyrant".

12:26 – There have been a lot of rather weird off-stage noises in this week's session. Earlier an MP was picked up on the microphone exclaiming "good God!" rather embarrassingly loudly. Now some very loud growled "hear-hear" is picked up, prompting laughter from across the whole chamber. All thoroughly strange… meanwhile, Charlotte Leslie is expressing concerns about the impact of the European Working Time Directive on junior doctors. Cameron, who since last month is the champion of euroscepticism, says this has "nothing to do with the single market". He says the government is working urgently to sort the problem out. Denis MacShane, the Labour outcast, calls the directive a "solution" to the problem of having too many exhausted doctors in charge of patients. "I don't doubt – no, I do doubt what the honourable gentleman says," Cameron jokes. 

12:23 – Andrew Rosindell, Tory champion of exotic all-party groups, asks a very jingoistic question about the Falklands. Cameron, having acknowledged the contribution of the soldiers who died in the war 30 years ago, says the future is a matter for the people of the Falklands. "I'm determined we should make sure our defences and everything else is in order. What the Argentineans have been saying is far more like colonialism because these people want them to remain British, but the Argentineans want them to do something else." That might be a news story, I think…

12:21 – Lib Dem Tessa Munt raises the issue on everyone's topics – advertising for online bingo. It's an unfortunately long question, and the Commons is getting restive, but she presses on and gets most of her question in. The PM, who was obviously prepped on this one, tells Munt that it's about responsibility from the companies as well as regulation. "Anyone who's watching a football match – you do see quite aggressive advertising," he observes. An insight into his spare time, perhaps.

12:18 – Back in the Commons, Andrew George, is moaning about the health bill. Cameron says the coalition couldn't have done more to listen. He certainly does know how to do a U-turn, that's for sure. Next is Labour backbencher Catherine McKinnell, who asks the PM about women in the workplace. He says the figures show a "disappointing increase" in women. 

12:15 – The verdict? I'm afraid that was fairly one-sided, confirming the leader of the opposition's vulnerability. He did all he could, trying to keep the moral supremacy by sticking to the topic. Was this enough? Again, probably – just about.

12:12 – "I tell him what he should do – he should change course!" Miliband says. Oh dear – he's just walking into these traps. The hilarity from the government benches is devastating. "Yeah!" Miliband yelps "yeah!" repeatedly over the top, like a very poor rapper. Cameron is on top here.  "He's an expert in changing course," he says mockingly, contrasting Miliband's stance with the statements of his shadow chancellor this week. "He is flip-flopping," Cameron says, before quoting criticism of Miliband from the left. Oh dear. It is damning criticis, he sums up, of "what stands opposite".

12:10 – Miliband needs help from the Speaker to calm things down. "I know he doesn't want to talk about the young people out of work in this country… but he owes it to them to tell the facts as they are about what is happening to them." Not a bad response – sticking to his message, and ignoring the jibe. So Cameron responds with a straight bat again, unlike the England cricket team of course.

12:09 – "It really is back to the 1980s!" Miliband responds. He smiles to himself after that prompts a barrage of heckling from the government benches. He presses on with long-term unemployment, which has a "desperate scarring effect". It's doubled in the last year, he insists. But Cameron won't acknowledge that. "I've explained the figures," he says. We're just going around in circles now. Then comes the big attack – a "reminder in recent days" of what happens when you don't deal with the deficit. He's talking about France's loss of its AAA rating, before attacking Miliband. Here it comes. "He's so incompetent he can't even do a U-turn properly!" The Tories love that. "More!" They shout.

12:07 – Cameron doesn't understand, Miliband says. He says the "long list of policies" Cameron's just spieled out won't make any difference, and invites the PM to confirm there are double the number of young people out of work now, compared to a year ago. Cameron comes up with some figures of his own. He concedes it's "far too high", though, before making a finishing point: "There is a fundamental difference between the way this governmetn measures youth unemployment and the way the last government did."

12:05 – Cameron dodges Miliband's next question, about government forecasts, by saying they're set out nowadays by the independent Office of Budget Responsibility. He then lists all the handy things the government is doing to help the unemployed. That's the problem with going with the obvious topic – the prime minister is going to be very well prepared on it.

12:04 – More sarcastic cheers for Ed Miliband, who begins by beginning with unemployment. It's risen for the sixth month in a row, he says. "Does he think it has anything to do with his government?" Cameron says he takes "absolute responsibility". He thinks it's a "tragedy" when people lose their jobs. At least, he says, the number of people in employment has actually increased. "There is not one ounce of complacency in this government," he declares, to Tory cheers. They're very boisterous – in very good voice.

12:03 – Right, we're off. Cameron is wearing a very natty blue tie. So that's a good start. Laurence Robertson (pin-stripe suit, neckerchief) is worried about funding for schools. Cameron concedes it needs to be sorted out. He says it turns out academy schools are a Good Thing.

11:58 – So, nearly ready to go now, on a suitably gloomy day in Westminster. There's a decent chance fireworks will light up the inside of the Commons chamber, though: Cameron has ammo in the form of Miliband's clash with the unions, while Miliband has the politically potent set of unemployment stats to cause trouble over. Just a few minutes away, now.

11:54 – In the Commons, an awkward question for Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan from her shadow, Peter Hain, on high speed rail – something Gillan had threatened to resign over. Hain claims Gillan is "more concerned with stopping trains and building tunnels and selling houses" in her constituency than helping advance the interests of Wales. "I am surprised at the right honourable gentleman," Gillan replies sniffily, saying Hain didn't achieve the electrification of "one single inch" of Welsh rail. Excellent parliamentary theatre which gets an appreciative cheer from MPs, who are now filling up the Commons benches nicely.

11:49 – I notice that among the MPs listed to ask a question in this evening's session is Aidan Burley, the Cannock Chase MP who found himself out of a job before Christmas over his involvement in a Nazi-themed stag party in the French Alps. We can expect a lot of heckling from the opposition benches if he gets to speak – he's number 15 on the list, so tehre may not be time.

11:45 – It was not forever thus. More and more, PMQs is becoming about a test for the leader of the opposition, a challenging hurdle which he has to survive. It only goes to show that this weekly session is a key part of British politics – it is a barometer of political fortunes which is invaluable to both MPs and the journalists who write about them. The Speaker may constantly complain about the childishness of these exchanges, but the to-and-fro of PMQs is a critical part of political life in Britain.

11:33 – Good morning. Well, after last week's rather dull affair we're hoping things will be a little more violent and abusive this week. Ed Miliband has unemployment stats (bad, bad, bad) to attack with, but it'll be more interfesting to see how David Cameron responds to his policy shift on spending cuts and public sector pay.  The ammunition is limitless (Do you oppose the cut? Yes. Will you undo it? No.) But Cameron might wish to offer Miliband a faux 'welcome', which would drive his backbenchers into an orgy of despair. The most dangerous thing Cameron could do is issue a statesmanlike, above-the-fray congratulation to Miliband for accepting the sweep of the austerity programme.