PMQS as-it-happened

Follow every minute of this week's PMQs with politics.co.uk's live blog.

By Ian Dunt

11:22 – Well, hello there. It's been a while, although not long enough, frankly. We rely on silly season for our sense of time, you see, like scientists and the second law of thermodynamics, and we were completely denied it this year. We had to live blog the phone-hacking scandal and even a return to parliament half way through August for the riots debate. It was very disappointing indeed. But never mind, parliament is back, for a week anyway, and we have the dubious pleasure of watching Ed Miliband and David Cameron throw bits of food at each other before conference season starts.

11:27 – There are two obvious points for discussion. Right after PMQs, MPs get stuck into the debate on NHS reform. Well, not right after, first they have a ten minute rule motion on the anniversary of the Magna Carta from Eleanor Laing (thanks, Eleanor). Miliband always seems keen to get onto the NHS topic for one obvious reason, namely that not even Tory wives trust the Tories with the health service. That's the obvious attack and Miliband will surely get a couple of words in. The debate is already being held at apocalyptic levels of course, with much talk of destroying the NHS and all that. You'd almost think that we, as a country, are incapable of talking about these things like adults. The other option is the economy. George Osborne basically admitted last night that growth estimates would have to come down. I don't know if you noticed, but there's no growth, which is generally considered a bad thing, and there's no sign of there being any growth either. It's OK though, because they're probably going to take 10p off the richest people's income tax. That'll fix everything.

11:43 – The usual disclaimer: There will be typos aplenty once the action starts. That's the way with live blogs. You may also find disproportionate measurements of ambivalence and unpleasantness, but I am not accountable for that either. Already there's been one mistake, predictably. Parliament's actually back for two weeks before conference season, so we'll be here live blogging this time next week as well. In the chamber, there's typical foul mouth debate, with Francis Maude hosting Cabinet Office questions. Standard jeering, little content.

11:55 – Mel Stride (Con, robotic) sounds like he's been practising his aching dull question in front of the mirror for the last four days. Chris Bryant (Lab, phone-hacking campaigner) asks about private investigators, calling some of them "the scum of the earth". Yep, no getting carried away there. I love it when politicians talk like a drunk bloke down the pub. Maude handily points out that his question has no relevance to the Cabinet Office. Bercow calls for less noise. Front benchers start dribbling in. Our correspondent, Alex Stevenson, is making his way to the Commons.

11:59 – Osborne is having a good laugh with William Hague and Cameron. It's always particularly unpleasant when they're happy. Chris Huhne has decided to actually appear in the Commons, something of a rare occurrence. He holds his face on two fingers as if it was a gun being poked into his cheek.

12:01 – And we're off. Cameron starts with the roll call of those who have fallen in Afghanistan since the Commons last met. Silence in the chamber as he reads the names.

12:02 – Cameron also mentions the anniversary of September 11th and those who "died in pursuit of a safer future in the last decade". If only that were true, David. Ian Austin (Lab, scrawny) attacks Cameron for allowing terror suspects use of a mobile with reformed control orders. "The arrangements we put in place will keep this country safe," Cameron says. Guy Opperman (Con, chinless) has just come out of hospital and calls for more reform of the NHS.

12:05 – Miliband is up. He repeats the names of the servicemen who died over the summer. Behind him Yvette Cooper is perfectly still, like Buddha or a, alternately, a broken puppet. You pick. Harriet Harman looks at Miliband in a way that suggests she might actually like him, even in private. He also speaks about September 11th and policies during the riots. And he starts on the police. That's my prediction gone then. He asks how much it will cost to run elections for police commissioners. £25 million, Cameron says, but not from the police budget. Miliband said they should have happened in May 2013. Why is he wasting money in this way? Cameron says it's important to get this policy right. "Why is the party opposite so scared of elections?"

12:08 – "This is the wrong priority for the country," Miliband says. He describes policing during the riots as "visible" and "effective". The money could pay for 2,000 extra officers. Cameron says Miliband got his figures "completely wrong". He says scrapping police authorities will save money. He asks why Miliband is frightened of direct elections, which will "make police accountable". Miliband evades all Cameron's counter questions. And now he moves onto the NHS. Miliband didn't do well there at all. Flat and weak. "I'm not surprised he wants to change subject, because on policing he was having his collar felt," Cameron says. He stresses how well the NHS is doing under the Tories, more than a little unconvincingly. "They don't like hearing good news about what's happening in the health service," Cameron says. Miliband: "It's a complete non-answer." he says people are waiting longer for their operations. Miliband is much more convincing striking a passionate tone on why the chief whip "should care about these people".

12:12 – Cameron and Miliband are trading stats on waiting times for outpatients. "He may not like the truth but that is the truth," Cameron says. I doubt anyone of any sense trust either of them. Miliband: "He's on another planet. He had his holidays interrupted, fair play to him, to tell the Western Morning News, the whole health profession is for what is being done." Miliband then comprehensively shows that is not the case. The Labour leader says both police and health reform are "disruptive and dangerous plans". Cameron: "Isn't it interesting that he doesn't dare in six questions mention the economy." Odd response. Presumably he didn't because the Darling memoirs left him wide open to attack.

12:14 – We move on. That was particularly unappetising – even worse than usual. Miliband was very weak, Cameron was evasive and unlikeable. I'd give it 1-0 to Cameron. Whenever they're as bad as each other Cameron comes out on top simply because he is more convincing.

12:17 – That being said, Miliband's points on the cost implications of the police chief date is important, but he failed to follow through on it. Right, we're with the backbenchers again, so do try to stay awake. Oliver Letwin, on the front bench, looks like he's just had a particularly large meal and is on the verge of sleep. John Baron (Con, Demon Headmaster) wants the PM to back the eviction of travellers in Essex. "It's a basic issue of fairness. Everyone in this country has to obey the law, including the law on planning permission," he said.

12:20 – Nadine Dorries (Con, hate figure) says the Lib Dems are influencing the government's policy. Shock! She really is burning all her bridges. "Does the prime minister think it's time we told the deptuy prime minister who is the boss?" she asks. Extraordinary noise. Cameron can't get a word in. "I know the honourable lady is extremely frustrated…"Laughter. "Maybe I should start that again." More laughter. Then: "I'm going to give up on that one." Ok, fair enough. That was my favourite Commons moment of 2011.

12:24 – The background to that rather odd exchange is that Dorries is convinced the PM only backed away from her abortion amendment after a livid Nick Clegg marched into his office. She looks bitterly angry right now. Is she going to make it through the abortion debate with going postal? Might be worth a flutter. She's now chewing her fingernails. Really, it's quite a sight.

12:27 – Dave Watts (Lab, bread and butter pudding) calls for a VAT cut, not a reduction on the 50p tax rate. It allows Cameron to get his Darling quote in ("Labour had no credible economic policy whatsoever"). Further proof of Cameron's tactics if Miliband had dared bring up the subject. There's a lot of angry commentary from Labour supporters online right now, blaming Darling for crippling Miliband. Barry Gardiner (Lab, the bad guy in a children's TV show) asks about cuts to winter fuel payments. Cameron says he's following Labour's spending plans.

12:30 – With his head lolling backwards, staring at the opposition down his nose, Huhne looks exactly like Napoleon. Diana Johnson (Lab, competent) asks about Siemens' projects on Hull. Cameron treats her respectfully. Amber Rudd (Con, inexplicably angry at all times) calls for help for east Africa. Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab, Welsh, in case you hadn't guessed) is trying to ruin the housing minister, which he does with his hands in his coat pockets, like Harold Wilson. Matthew Offord (Con, dashing, looks like he smells of cheap soap) asks about something, but I missed it because I was too busy trying to mock him. I do hope it wasn't important.

12:35 – And we're done. The lesson from today? Don't call the PM "gutless" in the weekend press and expect to survive a hostile question in PMQs. That'll be it from the live blog, but we'll be providing coverage of the health and social care bill debate throughout the afternoon, including that doomed abortion amendment and Dorries' emotional state. Unmissable, I'm sure you agree.