Cameron sails through first PMQs

David Cameron enjoys the view from the government benches during the Queen's Speech debate
David Cameron enjoys the view from the government benches during the Queen's Speech debate

By Alex Stevenson

David Cameron experienced few perils in his first prime minister's questions, after five years on the other side of the Commons chamber.

The new PM's first half-hour session was dominated by questions about Afghanistan, the economy and developments in Israel and Cumbria.

New leader of the opposition Harriet Harman, after asking a question about Israel, focused on the proposed anonymity in rape prosecutions - an issue close to the shadow women's minister's heart.


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"We all want the same thing, which is... to send more rapists to jail," Mr Cameron argued.

Ms Harman concluded with questions about the coalition government's plans to introduce a married couples' tax allowance. Mr Cameron said he was an "unashamed supporter of marriage" and argued that the "causes of higher spending", including family breakdown, needed to be tackled.

The session was overshadowed by events in Cumbria, where at least five people have died after a number of shootings. It was reported that 25 people had been wounded.

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PMQs was followed by a statement on the situation in Israel, after nine people died when a flotilla of aid vessels bringing supplies to Gaza were assaulted by Israeli forces.

Mr Cameron said that the blockade "must end" and added: "Friends of Israel, and I count myself a friend of Israel, should be saying to Israelis that the blockade strengthens Hamas' grip on Gaza."

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The session took place at 15:00 BST, three hours later than usual, as MPs made their way back to parliament after the brief Whitsun break.

The session is remarkable for being one of the very rare occasions when the resignation of a Cabinet minister in the week before a PMQs was not mentioned once.

David Laws quit over the weekend after being embroiled in an expenses scandal involving rent paid to the landlord he was having a homosexual relationship with.

Labour MP Ian Davidson won the biggest laughter of the session with an attack on the Conservatives' coalition partners.

"Comrade Premiere," he began. "Do not the vast majority of us dislike, despise and distrust the Liberal Democrats?"

Speaker John Bercow, who said he had been expecting a question about Afghanistan, prevented Mr Davidson from finishing his question.

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