PMQs as it happened

11:10 – Good morning, one and all. Britain is a miserable place to live, isn't it? The TUC tell us half of our children will be living below the breadline by 2015. A triple-dip recession is looming. Despite the improved sunny weather, it's still bitterly freezing. Worst of all, another prime minister's questions is in the offing. Prepare yourselves, my children. The backbenchers cometh.

11:15 – Following last week's unusually feisty performance, our elected representatives are set to hammer the prime minister into submission once again this week. Not that you would know this is what is happening. Conservative MPs seem to do a pretty good job of hammering Ed Miliband, too, who is not really displaying any significant improvement in his performances at present. When most people do something once a week for nearly three years, they tend to get a little better at it. Not so with Comrade Miliband, who reverts all too easily to excited-knowitall-schoolboy mode. Let's see what the leader of Her Majesty's opposition has to come up with this lunchtime from 12:00.

11:20 – There is an unusually delicious menu of options for Miliband to pick from. His lunchtime buffet of options includes the economy (rather stodgy, difficult to digest), the Liberal Democrats (some sort of trifle, tending to collapse in the middle) or even a liberal helping of mockery over leadership rumblings (leaving a rather bitter taste in the mouth). It will be interesting to see whether the key frontbenchers – home secretary Theresa May, for example, and defence secretary Philip Hammond – will make themselves scarce.

11:35 – The theatre of prime minister's questions might not be the most important exchanges Cameron and Miliband have this lunchtime. It's just emerging that the party leaders will meet after PMQs to discuss a potential deal on the future of press regulation. Ever since Leveson published his recommendations late last year the political parties have been in an odd sort of standoff with the newspaper industry, but their biggest headache has been the divide over whether or not a regulatory solution requires legislation or not. For a while it looked like the answer resided in one of Britain's rather handy constitutional fallbacks, the royal charter. Now the question-mark is over whether or not setting up one of these requires legislation or not. That, presumably, is what they will be talking about. Perhaps Miliband might opt to go for less contentious issues to pave the way for a deal in PMQs. Or perhaps he will seize the bull by the horns and try and pin Cameron down in public with an attempt to find ground out in the open. He would be crazy to try something like that, and has enough political nous to know that would be a stoo-pid idea… but still. You never know, do you?

11:55 – Mein Gott! It is now very nearly noon, and therefore PMQs is looming. The Labour backbenches are filling up fast, while the coalition's MPs seem a little more relaxed in sauntering down to the chamber from their offices. The last few minutes of international development questions are now underway. Alan Duncan, who has been keeping his head down for years now, is at the despatch box. His loss from the Conservative Cabinet is keenly felt by all fans of ministers with a twinkle in their eye.

11:57 – Not many Cabinet ministers on the frontbench just yet – Ken Clarke is sitting there, arms folded as usual, and there's Philip Hammond, too…

11:59 – An excellent tweet from Labour's Jamie Reed:

12:01 – Cameron has a green tie on. This means… precisely nothing. But I thought it was worth mentioning. Also ever so slightly importantly, May is nowhere to be seen. Vince Cable is crouching at the Speaker's feet as the session gets underway.

12:04 – A big cough from Nick Clegg, making his most meaningful contribution to the session, as Cameron kicks off proceedings. Labour backbencher Tom Blenkinsop gets an early jibe about an "alternative to him".

12:05 – After a rather harrowing question about a knife crime death – Cameron is very good at striking the right tone on these occasions – we move to the main exchanges.

12:06 – Miliband leads with the alcohol pricing U-turn. "Is there anything he could organise in a brewery?" Laughter and cheers from the Labour benches – and it's clear Miliband is following up his cheeky chappy act of last week. Cameron's response is a little confusing, inviting Miliband to a party in a brewery in his constituency. "The reality is he's been overruled by his home secretary on this one," Miliband chuckles. There's Theresa May! She's lurking at the bar, anonymous among backbench MPs despite her ridiculously coloured scarf.

12:08 – Eh? Miliband looks baffled as Cameron says "I've got the top team I want and he's got the top team I want too". That seems a bit confusing. Bit of a thinker, anyway, which dilutes its impact. The PM retreats to a lengthy quote defending himself after the Office for Budget Responsibility slapped Cameron down last Friday.

12:10 – Miliband is full of scorn – and, more potently, mockery, as he suggests Robert Chote bothered to pen a letter to Cameron for the hell of it. He gets a bit more serious, now, as he raises manufacturing decline. Cameron's response is inadequate: he reverts to attacking Labour's record to buy time. "I accept everything they say," he then says, talking about the OBR. Miliband taunts Cameron over the PM being the one asking the questions (so utterly predictable) before turning to Cable's New Statesman article. That might help build bridges with the publication Miliband rubbished last week, that's for sure.

12:11 – Cameron is able to burble on about the economy all day, blaming Labour here and boosting his own party there. We've heard it squillions of times before, and here it is again. "He wrecked the economy," Cameron finishes. No surprises there. "It's taxi for Cameron after that answer," Miliband responds. The Labour benches are really enjoying this. Cameron can't help but grin as he looks down at his notes. This is pretty devastating stuff for Cameron now, who seems weak and isolated. Miliband is going for the throat.

12:13 – Cameron responds with a jibe about everyone in the Tory party being keen on Miliband remaining Labour leader (they think he's beatable). Miliband is utterly nonplussed. "He's absolutely hopeless," he says smugly. He knows this is one of his better days, and doesn't bother to make much of a big ending. A wasted opportunity there, giving Cameron the opportunity to moan about Miliband not asking questions about this and that. Cameron reads out a list of the dinners Miliband has held to raise money from the trade unions. Miliband, arms folded, blows air through his lips as Cameron reads out the list. "They pay the money, they get the policies but the country would end up paying the price," he finishes. That attack came from nowhere – and has done a lot to repair the damage from earlier in the exchanges.

12:15 – This was one of Miliband's better performances. Or maybe it was just that Cameron seemed so lonely, with troublemaking Cabinet colleagues sprinkled throughout the chamber. The prime minister had an off day, too – he was flailing about, lashing at thin air, like a drunk having a fight with himself. Cameron 0 Miliband 3.

12:16 – Right. The main exchanges are over, leaving Cameron with the small task of dealing with those pesky backbenchers before that all-important Leveson meeting begins.

12:20 – After a lengthy answer on international development issues, Chris Skidmore raises the Mid-Staffordshire excess deaths and makes it a thoroughly partisan attack on Labour. Cameron says it's the Tories who set up the inquiry into the problem, and is again clear: "We should listen to Francis when he says we shouldn't seek scapegoats." That is much more clear than he has been before on this issue. David Nicholson, the chief executive of the NHS, will be in his job a little while longer.

12:22 – Cameron is answering a question about Northern Ireland now, but as I don't have the foggiest idea how to spell their taiseoeseach I'd better steer clear of that one. Sorry, Ireland.

12:23 – In a rare moment of tongue-tiedness, Cameron gets his words in a mumble, providing a brief one-second barrage of syllables which prompts laughter across the chamber. The result is the sort of snippet perfect for being seized on by YouTube nerds. Godspeed!

12:25 – The PM quickly recovers his resolve, drily responding to a Labour question about the NHS with the dismissive: "I don't think he's right in any part of his question." Next comes John Thurso, the Lib Dem former peer. His question is about tourism in the UK – he's worried changes to visas could reduce the number of visitors, particularly from Brazil. Cameron says the national security council recently met and changed its mind. May, who somehow manages to get a bleak note into her smile, is nodding from the bar of the House.

12:26 – Labour's Lucy Powell – who females reliably inform me has good hair, but needs a jacket – delivers a workaday question about childcare costs. Then comes Tory Stephen Phillips, who wants to know what will happen if the government relies on a "magical faraway tree of money" which Labour likes. I hadn't spotted that in the thoughts and writings of the shadow chancellor, but there you go.

12:28 – Nigel Dodds, the DUP's North Belfast MP, isn't happy about fuel duty even after the recent retreat by the chancellor. "Petrol and diesel prices are 10p a litre lower than they would have been had we stuck to the absolutely toxic plans put in place by the party opposite," Cameron observes. Clegg, sitting by his side, nods solemnly. Lib Dem Alan Reid has another fuel duty question. He wants the September fuel duty hike to be scrapped.

12:30 – Ian Murray, the Edinburgh South MP for Labour, wonders whether Cameron will benefit from the "millionaires' tax cut". The PM simply says he'll pay the taxes he needs to, before launching into a lengthy letter from 'Ed who lives in Camden'. It's a riposte to the 'letter' Miliband read out last week. The Tories love it, mocking the "champagne socialists like me" who have tax headaches of their own. It takes a long, long time for the Commons to calm down after that. But Miliband's office will be secretly pleased: it shows last week's fake letter joke really did ruffle the PM.

12:31 – Poor old Russell Brown, an experienced Labour MP who gets told off by the Speaker for using 'you' in the chamber. The dissent against the harsh tone employed by Bercow is plain for all to see.

12:33 – Jim Sheridan, the Labour Scottish pickled veteran, says parliament's lower-paid staff have had a one per cent pay rise while the senior staff have had a five per cent hike. Cameron utterly dodges the question, but he's raised an important point.

12:35 – Tory backbencher Sarah Wollaston, the chief critic of the U-turn on alcohol minimum pricing, is worried that the government's retreat will "critically undermine future efforts of those who want to do something about it". Her reasoned tone is much more effective than the simmering fury of some Conservative backbenchers. Not that it makes any actual difference, of course.

12:36 – Mike Thornton, the Lib Dem victor of Eastleigh, asks his first prime minister's question – a hopelessly coalition-loyalist question about how terrible Labour are. Cameron welcomes Thornton to the Commons and simply observes: "If he asks questions like that I think he'll get along just fine."

12:38 – Hang on – just before we finish, something a little bit strange happened there. Steve Rotherham raised a point of order about "glitches" with the e-petition system. Bercow responds by saying the issue is a matter for ministers. I hadn't quite clicked that was the case: why should parliament's e-petition system be controlled by the executive? Note to self to look into that one…

12:39 – And with that, it's time for lunch. MPs are continuing to file out of the chamber and look for a bite to eat somewhere on the parliamentary estate. We'll have our PMQs special newsletter ready to go by 2…