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  1. David Cameron faced questions from Ed Miliband and backbenchers in the Commons
  2. The two men clashed over the NHS, welfare changes and taxes on high-value homes

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Continuing coverage...

You can watch all of this week's session, and the key clips via the video tabs on this page. MPs have now moved onto debating the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. You can follow this and the rest of the day's proceedings in the Commons and Lords on the

BBC's Democracy Live website. And we'll be back with live reaction to the Rochester and Strood by-election from the early hours of Friday morning

Tackling the big issues?

Echoing Nick Robinson's point about the two leaders pushing their own preferred themes each week, BBC colleague Norman Smith says it is often the case that the main political story of the day (today it is UKIP's immigration policy) hardly gets a mention inside the chamber at Prime Minister's Questions.

James Forsyth, political editor of The Spectator


Tweets: "Cameron again uses the word 'Ulster' in reply to a question from a DUP MP, the buttering up continues"

Paul Brand, ITV political correspondent


Tweets: "Anas Sarwar reveals Labour's new copycat line: 'go to bed with SNP, wake up with him [Cameron] as PM'. Like 'vote UKIP, get Miliband' #pmqs"

Oh what an atmosphere

Speaking from the relative calm of the Daily Politics studio, Tory MP Andrea Leadsom says "she can't bear the shouting" at PMQs. Labour's Emma Reynolds suggests this would be improved by electing more women to the Commons and eventually getting a 50:50 gender balance.

Reynolds and Leadsom

Speaking on Daily Politics, both Labour's Emma Reynolds and the Conservatives' Andrea Leadsom accept that the public are much more sceptical about what the two largest parties say. Ms Reynolds blames this on "volte-faces" such as the Lib Dems' u-turn on tuition fees. Ms Leadsom says the parties still offer "real choices" although not necessarily "black and white" ones.


The rules of the game have changed, Nick Robinson suggests on Daily Politics, in that the fragmentation of the political landscape means that both David Cameron and Ed Miliband can "have a bad week".


Nick Robinson says David Cameron's strategy at PMQs is clear and it is to "try and finish Ed Miliband off". He likens it to "playing the man", saying that the public are close to losing faith in the Labour leader. As for Mr Miliband, he says he is trying to hammer home that the PM is out of touch and only speaks for the wealthy - hence the focus on the NHS and the "mansion tax".

Vicki Young, BBC chief political correspondent


Tweets: "Lib Dem spokesman denies party is boycotting #pmqs after no minister appears on frontbench. @nick_clegg away on south London"

Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent


Tweets: "Repulsive, meaningless, pantomime, farce; Peter Allen quotes listener reactions to PMQs on @bbc5live"

The reaction

The initial reaction from BBC political editor Nick Robinson: PMQs "felt like Hamlet without the prince" as there were frequent references to the Rochester by-election but neither Mark Reckless nor UKIP leader Nigel Farage were present. He says David Cameron's speech on immigration, in which he is expected to set out his negotiating demands, before Christmas was now critical.

The last question

The final question is a supportive one for the PM. Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle says the government's economic strategy has borne fruit in his constituency, to cheers from the Tory side, with employment at a record level. Mr Cameron agrees and says his economic policies are working.

NHS bill

Labour's Clive Efford gets rather animated as he urges the government to back his private members' bill on the NHS, insisting that the health service should not "be for sale, not ever". The PM responds by saying the government has overseen a rise in spending and only 6% of operations are private.

Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror


Tweets: "Both parties the same? Bedroom tax(Con for, Lab agin) & mansion tax(Lab for, Con agin) are bright red dividing lines"

Manchester trains

The session is coming to an end now with David Crausby asking about a lack of seats on commuter train services into Manchester. Mr Cameron says the government is investing record sums in the rail network.


Tory MP Michael Ellis raises the story of a sandwich maker having to recruit foreign workers because of an alleged lack of skills in the UK workforce. This gives the PM the opportunity to trumpet the government's policies, saying welfare reforms and sanctions must go hand in hand with skills development.

Child sex abuse

Labour's Sarah Champion says Ofsted reports suggests local councils are not up to dealing with issues of child sex abuse. Mr Cameron says the lessons of the child abuse cases in Rotherham must be learnt, arguing that the government is now working more closely together and "making progress".

Crime in Northern Ireland

Dr William McCrea, from the DUP, asks about crime in the Northern Ireland and attacks what he says is the "immunity" being given to some criminals. He says the National Crime Agency's remit should be extended to Northern Ireland, something that the PM agrees with.

Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone and Stockbridge


Tweets: "Not one LibDem cabinet minister on frontbench for #PMQs"

Sex education

Tory Laurence Robertson asks about sex and relationship education in schools, which the PM backs. Mr Cameron then attacks the Green Party after a question from Caroline Lucas on house price affordability, suggesting he has never heard a Green politician "backing any new houses anywhere".

A new poll tax?

Labour's David Winnick says the government should be "ashamed" of housing benefit changes dubbed the "bedroom tax" and likens them to the poll tax introduced by the Thatcher government. Unsurprisingly, Mr Cameron disagrees.

Shop small

David Cameron is urged to "shop small and local" by Tory MP Stephen Mosley - that's a reference to Small Business Saturday next month in which people are encouraged to back independent outlets. Mr Cameron agrees and says small firms are the "lifeblood of the economy".

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde


Tweets: "Britain is too unequal, and it's to the detriment of everyone. I'm no fan of #PMQs, but good to see both party leaders acknowledge that..."

NI tax powers

A question from Nigel Dodds about the devolution of more tax powers to the Northern Ireland Executive. The PM says he agrees but that there must also be changes to the Stormont budget.

Nuclear test veterans

The Conservative MP John Baron asks for a one-off payment of £25m to support British nuclear test veterans and their families, the subject of a recent legal case. The PM says he is determined to get a resolution and urges Mr Baron to "bear with him".


A change of subject. Former minister Crispin Blunt says humanists should have the same rights regarding marriage as same sex couples. Mr Cameron says that there will be a consultation on the issue.


Labour's Anas Sarwar claims there are two parties who are re-distributing money from the "poorest to the richest" - a twin dig at the Conservatives and the SNP. Mr Cameron says he is "simply wrong", arguing that child poverty and other benchmarks have improved.

James Chapman, political editor of the Daily Mail


Tweets: "Audible groans as Bercow does his weekly lecture on "what the voters expect" #PMQs"

Fiona O'Donnell, Labour MP for East Lothian


Tweets: "Cameron more interested in serving his script writers than defending his record on NHS #pmqs"


We are now onto backbenchers' questions, including contributions from Lib Dem President Tim Farron and Conservative John Glen, whose question on unemployment gives the PM the opportunity to back the government's economic strategy.

Pic: Cameron makes a point

David Cameron

Pic: Miliband makes a point

Ed Miliband

Douglas Carswell, UKIP MP for Clacton


Tweets: "#PMQs Leaders of the dying duopoly trade pantomime insults and lines. Surely we can do better than this?"

Last word

Mr Cameron responds by joking that in a recent poll more people believed in the Loch Ness monster than the Labour leader, adding that the problem for the opposition is that "Mr Miliband exists". On that humorous note, the exchanges come to an end.

Last question

Winding up his questions. Mr Miliband says the prime minister "just doesn't get it" and claims that those with lot of money "have a friend" in Mr Cameron.

Campaign pledge

"The NHS is going backwards on his watch and the British people know it, and we will campaign on it" Mr Miliband says.

NHS response

The prime minister responds with a stream of statistics for the NHS in England and then citing the missed targets by the NHS in Wales, which is run by Labour.

George Eaton, political editor of the New Statesman


Tweets: "Miliband pitching popular tax rise (72% back mansion tax) against unpopular welfare cut (59% oppose bedroom tax). #PMQs"

On to the NHS

Mr Miliband is veering all over the place with his questions. He now moves onto the NHS, arguing that the government is missing its cancer waiting targets.

Myleene Klass

The prime minister has his rebuttal waiting. Referring to Myleene Klass' criticism of the mansion tax, he says Mr Miliband has had a "pasting from a pop star", to cheers from the Tory benches.