Cameron conference as-it-happened

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By Ian Dunt

09:41 - Cameron will be on in a few minutes, followed swiftly by Gordon Brown, so stick with us for that. It's gonna be a busy morning. Across London, Vince Cable is making a speech on the Lib Dem's banking policies.


09:49 - Cameron starts, as expected, with the broken society agenda. He says serious case reviews will be published in full under a Tory government, not just the executive summary, as is currently the case. He's expecting the first signs of economic growth tomorrow. But insists we're the last big economy to come out the recession. Coming out doesn't mean our debt crisis is over - "far from it".

09:50 - He says he need to cut the deficit quickly - the usual stuff. Cameron spends about two minutes reeling off horrible-sounding numbers about the level of public debt. He says Greece is an example of how things look if you don't sort out the deficit. He seems slightly pale and tired. "We need to get a grip on our debt crisis," Cameron says. He wants early action to "show you are serious in your intent". The government's approach is to do nothing, Cameron insists. "It's time they realised that it is time to do the right thing."

09:53 - Cameron says he now has roughly the same percentage of black and minority candidates as the average in the general population. Similar goals have been achieved with women candidates - "it's a further sign we are ready to serve".

09:56 - Cameron picks the BBC for his second question - a sign of partiality totally at odds with his plans to reduce Ofcom. He apologises. He is asked about the deficit, and says the real risk is not tackling the deficit. "We are going to have to borrow a staggering amount of money from the rest of the world," he says. "It is like your credit card; the worse you leave it, the worse it gets." The test for the Budget, which we now all expect, is if there will be a plan, at the very least. He urges Brown to put away his "pathetic dividing lines".

09:59 - Cameron is asked about his married couples' tax allowance, which polls showed most voters are ambivalent about. Cameron admits polls show the policy doesn't have universal support, but insists he believes in it, and will follow his conviction. He admits a small amount of money won't make all the difference to marriages. But it's important to "send a message".

10:01 - Cameron mocks the slip-up by Bob Ainsworth over the weekend where he seemed to admit there would be an election on May 6th. He's probably not the man you'd pick to announce it, Cameron jokes. He's asked if he backs fixed-term parliaments, but says it worries him that a weak minority government would be stuck in power for four years.

10:03 - Cameron insists the 'couple penalty' is one of the worst factors when it comes to child poverty. He wants that ended and then reiterates the married couples' tax allowance. And that genuinely appears to be his anti-child poverty policy agenda.

10:04 - Does he give any credit to Brown for his economic stewardship? Cameron batters down any suggestion of successful government action. He didn't like that question at all. He questions the repossession figures, which don't include people turning from owners to rent-payers, according to the Tory leader. He also says small business failures and youth unemployment have been substantial and implies there's nothing for the government to be proud of here. Cameron is praising the concept of prison ships, with a straight face.

10:07 - Cameron is asked about his Edlington comments again, which he made late last week as the convictions came through. His use of the case made some commentators uncomfortable. He insists the fact these serious case reviews aren't published means lessons aren't learned. He admits there needs to be anonymity for people's names, but says it feels right now like an "establishment stitch-up". "I don't think this is playing politics at all, I think this is a deadly serious issue," Cameron says.

10:09 - Will Cameron back the Lib Dems on amending the children and families bill to get the reviews published in full then? Yes, he says. Cameron is encouraged to join Twitter by ConservativeHome. Cameron jokes that he "made a great start". We should use all methods of communication, Cameron says. But he insists politicians spend so much time talking, you should be cautious every time you add another facet to the "canopy" of communication to ensure you will keep it up.

10:12 - Cameron is asked about a new arthritis drug, which Nice hasn't sanctioned. Cameron wants value-based pricing. He says that should fix the slow pace of new drugs becoming available. Once it's cleared for use, under Tory plans, the drug companies could prescribe it and the government would pay based on how successful it is. But the journalist wants more information on the precise case which - I'm guessing here - Cameron probably isn't overly familiar with. Cameron insists value-based pricing does address his concerns.

10:15 - More on prison ships. He says he wants to make extra prison capacity available. He's not quite guaranteeing it, but he seems firm. He says he's made his "opinion pretty clear", which is political code for 'you're not going to get a straight answer on this one'. In response to another question he reiterates his support for faith schools.

10:19 - On Obama's banking plans - should bankers listen to Osborne's calm or Boris's concerns? Cameron insists the two men are on the same page. He says Obama's move was important, and that he welcomes him taking on the retail/investment issue. He welcomes that the plan will help pay back the taxpayer guarantee. The Tory party has been "on the money", on this issue, Cameron says, but the PM is stuck in an old-fashioned view. He's asked if he would ever take that approach unilaterally. Cameron says the "door is now open".

10:22 - A few final words on the "option" of all-women shortlists closes the press conference. And with that we're off. We'll be back at 11:00 GMT though for the prime minister's press conference. See you then.

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