PMQs as-it-happened

Ian Dunt By

11:47 - Yep, off we go again. Chances are Ed Miliband will focus on income tax this week. He feels the public wind at his back on his call for a rise to 50p for top earners. Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is against that, but refuses to countenance the idea of it dropping from 45p. And David Cameron almost certainly wants a 5p cut to 40p. So does Boris Johnson, who was asked whether it might involve shifting Alexander to one side were it to proceed this morning. "Stranger things have happened at sea," he replied. It's all a bit of a mess and Miliband will want to worsen it while branding his own populist credentials in the vague hope the public will listen (they won't). Other options include Tim Yeo and the Tory tea party or the continued curse of Iain Duncan Smith's universal credit system. Or, you know, the cost of living crisis. Ever heard of that? He very rarely talks about it. Kick off is at midday. I will be covering it throughout, with predictable typos and factual errors.

12:01 - And we're off.

12:02 - Predictable starter for ten on the Tube strike. Cameron says... wait for it. There's no justification for the strike. Who'd have thought? Predictably he wants Miliband to "unreservedly condemn this strike today". Miliband won't play ball. He asks about the floods. That shuts up Tory jeers.

12:03 - Miliband asks for an update. Cameron says the government hasn't been slow. He seems to think holding a Cobra meeting is equivalent of action. "Whatever is required, this government will help those families and get this issue sorted." Miliband says people affected feel they've "been left on their own and isolated". He wants a look at flood protection investment. Where is the report? Cameron says the environment secretary will make a "comprehensive statement" tomorrow.

12:05 - Cameron announces new money to protect houses. Miliband: "Actually the figures show investment by the government has fallen during this period." He reiterates the need for a comprehensive look and turns to another subject. "The prime minister said in 2014 he was going to lead the way on women's equality. How's that going in the Conservative party."

12:07 - That was unwise. The switch from floods to women, and from responsible to bullying tones, came across as jarring. Cameron tries to finish off on flooding, but he is being shouted at by the opposition benches. Bercow brands Plaid Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd an "incorrigible delinquent". Cameron struggles on with flood news over Labour shouts. This is a very bad look for Labour MPs.  Finally he moves onto the women issue, prompting a big cheer.

12:09 - Cameron defends his record. Miliband is up: "A picture tells a thousand words. Look at the all male front bench before us and he says he wants to represent the whole country. I guess they didn't let women into the Bullingdon Club." Cameron smiles at that. "In this Cabinet there are as many men who went to Eton or Westminster as women. Is it his fault the Tory party has a problem with women?"

12:11 - Cameron says 24% of the Cabinet are women, but concedes it's not enough. "This party is proud of the fact we had a woman prime minister." The mention of Thatcher sends the Tory benches into an orgy of self congratulation. Bercow interupts. "Mr Gove, you really are a very excitable individual. You will write a thousand times 'I will behave myself at prime minister's questions'."

12:12 - "He mentions Lady Thatcher," Miliband says, "unlike him she was a Tory leader who won general elections." Cameron does not smile at that.

12:13 - Why for the first time in five years has the gap between male and female pay increased? Miliband asks. Cameron evades. He says more women are working than ever before. Then he makes a rather dated David Miliband joke. Miliband says the Tory party is removing one of its most senior women and replacing her with an old Etonian. "It says it all about the Tory party. He promised to modernise his party but he's going backwards. He runs the government like an old boys' network."

12:15 - Cameron scarpers to the strikes and militant trade unions. "He told us he was going to run down the red flag, all he's done is run up the white flag." It's all a bit pre=prepared and weak.

12:16 - That was another good performance by Miliband. The disconnect between flooding and women was jarring, and Labour MPs were unwise to shout during the update on flooding. But Miliband remained calm and was much funnier. There was enough of a ring of truth about the Etonian-women comparisons to give them rhetorical strength. And Cameron's response was weak and unimaginative. Snap verdict: Miliband: 2 Cameron: 1.

12:20 - Gemma Doyle (Lab,, nervy) asks if the government still thinks it got it right with the Royal Mail sell-off. Cameron gives a bullish response. Jessica Lee (Con, actually behaves like a tolerable human being) asks about apprentices. Cameron offers a response of convincing vacuousness. Ben Bradshaw (Lab, poor man's James Bond) says the UK needs to spend more on the resilience of transport infrastructure. He gets a reference to climate change in there, trying to pin Cameron green. Cameron agrees where he can, but doesn't go near the green trap (although he has before).

12:26 - Cameron reveals he will personally be chairing that Cobra meeting today. Hardly a ringing endorsement of his environment secretary. Mel Stride (Con, his best quality is his name) reads out a whips' question although he has the good grace not to actually read it off a sheet. Ah. Spoke to soon. He does read the second half from a sheet.

12:29 - John Spellar (Lab, part of the furniture) asks if the M still wants to repeal the fox hunting ban. Cameron says he still wants a debate and a say for MPs. Menzies Campbell asks, to respectful silence, how concerned we should be that the chemical weapon clean up in Syria is stalling. Cameron says he discussed this with Putin a few hours ago.

12:30 - Anne Marie Morris (Con, talks, dresses and acts like it) wants a fast track of the review for a breakwater to protect the railway line for her constituents. Cameron says he's very happy to look at all the suggestions.

12:32 - Pat Glass (Lab) asks about the alleged rape and abuse of boys at a detention centre in her constituency. She wants him to make sure the police team has the necessary resources. Cameron gives his assurance. Bill Cash (Tory, so many screws loose one might as well count the functional ones) asks whether the dead parrot is resting - a reference to the EU referendum bill. Will he use the Parliament Act to force it through the Lords next time? Cameron suggests it will. "Let's be clear, because they've all gone a bit quite over there. The Labour party and I'm afraid to say the Liberal Democrat party do not want to give the British people a say. This House should feel affronted," he adds.

12:35 - Andrew George (Lib Dem, dapper) finishes us off with more on flooding (he's MP for St Ives). He wants funding to secure the resilience of the rail line between the Penzance to Paddington rail line.

12:37 - And we're done. Slightly higher quality than usual. And possible the start of a winning streak from Miliband. See you next week.

Get involved Get Involved