As-it-happened: PMQs and Cameron's Hillsborough statement

Alex Stevenson By

Review our live coverage from parliament as David Cameron faced questions from MPs and gave a statement on the Hillsborough disaster.

Cameron's Hillsborough statement

13:04 - I'm going to wrap this live blog up now; time to update the news story and get our newsletter out. Just click on the sign-up button in the top-right of your page if you want to start receiving it. Should be ready in an hour or so. For now, thanks for following our coverage.

13:02 - Steve Rotherham, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, calls for a fresh inquest. "Only then will justice be seen to be done." Cameron praises Rotherham for campaigning on the issue so consistently. He says he'll consider Rotherham's idea of writing to the families, saying that's an "extremely good idea". Cabinet minutes are being published here - even though that doesn't happen "in cases of peace and war", as Cameron puts it. Big Ben tolls once - sounding especialyl sad at the moment. There's a really subdued atmosphere in the press gallery in parliament right now. And in the country as a whole, I'm guessing.

13:00 - Downing Street has said Cameron only had an hour with the report before PMQs. But he'd been doing a lot of background reading on this over the weekend, No 10 said - he had access to some of the papers beforehand, it seems.

12:58 - Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham and Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes focus their questions on the restored reputation of the fans. Burnham seems especially shook up by all this - he's not alone in the Commons chamber. Ian Dunt, who was in the chamber, has just come back from the press gallery. He says the mood was sombre and meditative. Silent, too. There were several audible gasps when the most shocking revelations were revealed, he says. He'll have a full sketch for you shortly.

12:53 - Miliband says he is "deeply sorry" for the pain suffered, and Cameron responds by thanking the leader of the opposition. "It has taken too long, but it has taken all parties to come together and work together to make this happen." He says the governemnt is looking at the Coroners Act 1987, which says a fresh inquest can only be held if the high court quashes the original inquest. It's up to the attorney-general to make a quasi-judicial decision on that. As for further prosecutions - well, that's up to the appropriate authorities. "You should only make an apology when you really mean it," Cameron says. "Apologies have sometimes been given when they have not been fully meant... my advice... is to understand the extent of hurt and to do it properly."

12:50 - Here's the apology from Cameron in full:

The new evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice. The injustice of the appalling events - the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth. And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased – that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths. On behalf of the Government – and indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long.

12:48 - Ed Miliband, responding to Cameron's statement, says Labour also apologises for its failure to help during its 13 years in government. "Imagine being unable to grieve in peace but facing two decades of torment - a cloud of suspicion, innuendo and downright lies spread," he laments. "This is what the Hillsborough families have had to endure from day one of this tragedy. When they spoke the truth to power whenever they could, the powerful did not hear." 

12:47 - A narrative of hooliganism had somehow made this a grey area. But today's report is "black and white" - the fans are exonerated completely - they should never have been impugned in the slightest. "The families at last have access to the truth," Cameron finishes.

12:45 - Cameron tries to sum up what this means for Liverpool and the whole country. "It was wrong that the responsible authorities knew Hillsborough did not meet minimum safety standards and still allowed the match to go ahead." It was also wrong that the families have had to endure what they had, and  "profoundly wrong" that the police tried to change the records and blame the fans. Cameron says "it is right" that he makes a "proper apology... to the 96". He says: "These families have suffered a double injustice. The injustice of the appalling events... and then the injustice of the denigration of the deceased that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths." He says he is "profoundly sorry" that this injustice has been allowed to stand for so long.

12:42 - The Thatcher government didn't do anything wrong, Cameron says. But governments then and since "have simply not done enough to challenge publicly the... narrative that sought to blame the fans". The new evidence casts significant doubt on the adequacy of the original evidence. Traumatic asphyxia leading to death within a few minutes simply wasn't an accurate conclusion. Thirty-one people did have evidence of hearts and lungs functioning after the 3.15 cutoff time. Lives could have been saved beyond 15:15, the panel concluded. "It is highly likely what happened to these individuals after 3.15pm is significant in determining whether they died." As Cameron says, this really is harrowing.

12:39 - "The families were right," Cameron declares on their suspicions that police reports were altered. News International's "despicable untruths" came from the Sheffield News Agency, the PM says. Police reports - 164 statements, it turns out - were "significantly amended". Over 100 saw negative comments removed. There is also new evidence that police officers carried out police national computer checks on those who had died "in an attempt to impugn the reputations of the deceased". That really is shocking, shocking, shocking.

12:37 - Cameron says the failure of the authorities to help protect people, the blaming of the fans and the inquest afterwards are all "distressing". On the ground, it has emerged that the ground's safety was completely hopeless. This "goes further" than the Taylor report because of the ambulance and emergency service's response. "Rescue attempts were held back by failures of leadership and coordination," Cameron says.

Reshuffle dominates backbench PMQs

12:35 - And now we're moving on very quickly to Cameron's statement on Hillsborough, "one of the greatest peacetime tragedies of the last century". The Commons atmosphere instantly changes from the cheeky, flippant mood of PMQs to something much more serious. "The families have not heard the truth and they have not found justice," Cameron says.

12:33 - Another depressing party funding spat, followed by a question from Mark Menzies. He's the MP for Fylde, who's worried about shale gas plans. "All fracking operations for shale gas have been suspended while we study the minor tremors that occurred in Blackpool last year," Cameron says. I don't know much about shale stuff, but it sounds interesting.

12:32 - High Speed 2 gets a mention now, courtesy of Labour's Andrew Slaughter. "I fully support HS2," Cameron says simply. Time for a Lib Dem now - Lorely Burt, who is now a PPS. She's worried by press reports that there's a shift away from "OUR green agenda". Cameron congratulates her on her new role. "She has every ability to make sure this government delivers on its green commitment." Osborne can't help grinning by the PM's side at that. He lists some of the coalition's achievements on environmental stuff. It is a government "committed to the green agenda". Not quite his past claim that the coalition would be the "greenest government ever"...

12:30 - We're approaching the end of the session now, as Jim Dowd asks a question about the expenses system. He's complaining about David Laws' reinstatement to the Cabinet, of course, as Cameron spots. "He made very clear the mistakes he made, resigned from the government... and as I've said in relation to this in the past, I do think it's right to give someone a second chance." Labour MPs are utterly appalled by that, and perhaps they should be. They seem to have forgotten the many second chances Tony Blair gave his ministers, like Peter Mandelson, for example...

12:26 - Meanwhile, I can't help noticing that Andrew Lansley continues to look completely miserable. He seems incapable of cheering up since being demoted to the leader of the House job last week. Very depressing state of affairs for him. He faces an eternity of nodding at the prime minister during PMQs - a fate worse than any death for any ex-important person.

12:24 - Now it's really heating up. Cameron defends his decision to knight ex-ministers, even though it went completely against the rules of the game. The public administration select committee is deeply unhappy about that, and won't be impressed by the PM's comment. The reshuffle is really hanging over this session now.

12:23 - Now Cameron addresses a complaint about the energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey, amid suggestions of a lobbying scandal. Cameron brushes it aside. Shailesh Vara, the former whip who lost his job last week, gets even more sarcastic cheers than Gibb. A tough moment for him, perhaps, but he handles it with aplomb and a very dignified question about Idi Amin's legacy.

12:21 - Back in the chamber, it's been very quiet so far since the main exchanges finished. I think that this was very much a draw - neither leader won themselves much of an advantage. Now here's something of interest: former schools minister Nick Gibb asks a constituency question. He gets lots of cheers. Cameron, who fired Gibb last week, doesn't bat an eyelid. He pays tribute to Gibb's contribution. "He has seen many of his ideas put into practice," he says.

PMQs main exchanges: "Mr Butch" and the economy

12:17 - "Labour would love 'Mr Butch' to stick," tweets lobby journalist Sam Macrory. Just to remind anyone who isn't completely au fait with parliamentary nonsense like this, the whole "butch" thing dates back to this time last week, when Cameron mocked Miliband for bringing his shadow chancellor Ed Balls hot drinks in the morning. This showed  how "butch and assertive" Miliband wasn't. Now Labour are doing their best to reverse the rather odd choice of word on Cameron. 

12:15 - Cameron completely ignores Miliband's question about the 50p tax cut, before continuing his attack on "pre-distribution". The way he says it is exactly the way a sneering school bully would. He points out Miliband's new guru is called "Mr J Hacker" - a reference to Yes, Prime Minister, of course. Miliband responds by complimenting Cameron on such a "butch answer... and what a week it's been for Mr Butch". Miliband gets personal, attacking Cameron's reshuffle after all the negative stories which emerged at the end of last week. Here's Miliband's final attack. "Their plan is failing, they stand up for the wrong people, plan A's not working, he should change course." Cameron says that the economy has created one million new jobs, net. "They have learned nothing," Cameron roars of Labour. And that, once again, is that.

12:12 - The prime minister, as you might expect, dodges the question. "If he's concerned about borrowing, why does he have concerns to put it up?" Cameron asks Miliband. So the Labour leader responds by accusing Cameron of allowing borrowing to rise "on his watch". It's up 25% this year, he claims. "He's failing the test he set himself and it shows that plan A is not working." Cameron protests that the coalition has cut the deficit by a quarter, before resuming the attack. "They've got a new plan - it's called 'predistribution'." Call Tory laughter. "I think that means you spend the money before you get it - and I think you'll find that's why we're in the mess we're in now!" The Tories loved that. They're yelling "more! more!"

12:10 - Miliband presses on with unemployment in his second question. He's not impressed by the work programme, suggesting it isn't working. Tory MPs groan, as Miliband was obviously reading from a script. And Cameron had already addressed the work programme. Osborne, staring at Miliband, looks rather pained. After Cameron reels off even more figures, Miliband comes up with some attacks on government debt. He ends up stuttering amid a wall of Tory heckling, but struggles on. Is Osborne going to give up the government's borrowing target, as he been reported?

12:08 - Ed Miliband gets shouted down before even starting, but calms things down by paying tribute to the Afghanistan soldiers' deaths. He raises unemployment for his first question. The problem is long-term unemployment, he says, and Cameron agrees. He reels out the full figures "because not everyone will have had chance to see them". They're not that bad - that's his implication. The PM says the work programme is helping fix the long-term unemployment problem. 

12:06 - Cameron gets an opportunity to attack the TUC, which is considering a general strike. "The trade unions do provide a threat to our economy," he says, not sounding very worried. He attacks Labour for getting funding from the unions and calls on Miliband "to take no more money from the unions". A very neatly coordinated planted question from the Tory backbencher.

12:04 - Chris Bryant is the first MP to ask a question. He was seriously wondering on Twitter last night what he ought to ask about. And after Cameron pays tribute to service personnel who have died in Afghanistan, we discover he's plumped for a question about unemployment - and female redundancies, which are rising over the last few months. There are also nine government departments without a single female minister. "I know the prime minister likes to think of himself as butch" - lots of laughter there, after Cameron's comment last week - and Cameron offers his first response. The number of women in employment is up this quarter, he says. Very well prepared, it's clear.

PMQs buildup

12:00 - In the Commons chamber, the frontbenches are almost full as Scottish secretary Michael Moore answers questions. George Osborne has a snazzy new haircut. Jeremy Hunt looks as chirpy as ever. David Cameron is wearing his favourite bright blue tie. We're almost ready to go.

11:55 - Meanwhile,.do keep a lookout for the small army of Tory backbenchers who have been handed a slither of recognition in the final stage of Cameron's reshuffle. The full list of parliamentary private secretaries is now out, giving a minor boost to a fair chunk of Cameron's backbenchers. PPSs are supposed to be the eyes and ears of the ministers they work for in the Commons, picking up snippets here and there and reporting back to the boss on the general mood in the tearoom. It is a mark of recognition, but the arrangement is heavily weighted in the government's favour: above all, PPSs are obliged to vote with the government every time. If they can't, they are expected to resign. Just look at how many of them there are, and you'll see why this is great news for Cameron.

11:50 - One obvious target for Miliband might be the GCSE grades fiasco, especially if Gove is present on the frontbench for a bit of squirming. The situation is raising the ire of ordinary pupils across the board but this is a little awkward for Labour, as Balls is a big fan of regulators and not overstepping the mark. With Clegg present Miliband could put pressure on the Tory backbenchers over gay marriage, after the "bigots" error of yesterday afternoon. If I was Miliband, though, I would put aside party politics and press Cameron over Hillsborough. It's what is going to dominate the news all day - and it really, really matters to so many people.

11:35 - Yet this lunchtime is about more than just PMQs. After answering questions from MPs for half an hour Cameron will make an important statement on the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 football fans lost their lives. An independent panel has been going over the documents relating to the incident in detail for the last 18 months and has today presented its findings to the victims' families. I've written up a preview story, but it is the PM's statement which will become the focus of national attention shortly after 12:30. I'll do my best to describe the atmosphere in the Commons and the key points as he makes them.

11:30 - Hello there. My name's Alex Stevenson. You may remember me from such previous live blogs as prime minister's questions, prime minister's questions, and prime minister's questions. And a few other events as well, of course, including last week's momentous - and simultaneously non-momentous - reshuffle. Now the new government has had a chance to settle down we've got one more chance to see the prime minister questioned by all and sundry before the Commons goes off on recess again, because of the party conferences. Ed Miliband will wind up David Cameron, we can be sure. We can be even more certain Ed Balls will be irritating the PM, too.

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