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Summary

  1. David Cameron and Ed Miliband clashed over their plans to cut public spending
  2. It was the last PMQs session before Parliament breaks up for the Christmas recess
  3. To watch the full session back, select Daily Politics via the 'Live Coverage' tab
  4. A statement followed from the defence secretary on the Al-Sweady Inquiry Report

Live Reporting

By Pippa Simm, Gavin Stamp and Adam Donald

All times stated are UK

Update: Reaction to the final PMQs of 2014

Daily Telegraph: Sketch writer Michael Deacon

predicts David Cameron's "boast" that "we don't need" to raise taxes will "fly back and sock him in the chops" at some point. What will be his defence if he does find himself raising taxes, such as VAT, he wonders.

The Mirror: Nigel Nelson

concludes that David Cameron and Ed Miliband "now exist in parallel universes", as "the Labour leader's questions and the PM's answers had about as much connection as a string of duff fairy lights".

The Independent: Lizzie Dearden observes the "lack of festive goodwill" between the two leaders,

noting that they "appeared to abandon policy entirely and opt for personal attacks in vicious exchanges".

The Guardian: It was a session "full of jibes at each other across the floor", writes political correspondent Rowena Mason, who leads with Ed Miliband's accusation that the PM has only fixed the economy for his Christmas card list.

More to come

We're wrapping up our live text commentary now, but you can continue to follow events in the House of Commons on the BBC's

Democracy Live website. If it's PMQs you are interested in you can scroll back through the entire session by selecting the catch-up Daily Politics under the "Live Coverage" tab on this page. The best clips are under the "Key Video" tab. We'll be adding more text updates later with reaction to the session later.

Commons: Al-Sweady statement ends

The statement is over, and the Labour MP Michael Connarty uses the point of procedure to complain that he was, in his mind, unfairly cut short by Speaker John Bercow when asking David Cameron a question at Prime Minister's Questions. Mr Bercow stresses that it is for the occupant of the chair to be the judge and maintains that the MP took too long to get to the crux of the question.

Cracker time

The post PMQs debate on BBC Radio 4's World at One ends on a cordial note as Christmas crackers are handed out. It sounds like Tristram Hunt fares best from the ensuing battle, as he hails a dramatic victory for Labour. "A metaphor for Labour taking more than they're entitled to," quips Lib Dem Jeremy Browne.

'Spouting nonsense'

On BBC World at One, Conservative Employment Minister Esther McVey tells Mr Hunt he is "spouting nonsense" and adds that Labour's claims about public spending reaching 1930s levels have taken a section of the OBR's report out of context. Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne says there has been "a dramatic rise" in employment.

PMQs reaction

On BBC Radio 4's The World at One, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt says the party is "desperately keen" to talk about employment. He says low wages and part-time work are the reason the public finances are "shot to pieces".

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon agrees with Ann Clwyd's assessment of British troops' reputation in Iraq. In answer to her question, he says there have been improvements to procedures, including on the retrieval and archiving of information to make it easier to find out what has happened and enable allegations to be quickly and properly investigated.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Labour MP Ann Clwyd, a former special envoy on human rights envoy, says she is pleased the UK has answered the allegations, and comments that it has affected the "very high reputation" in Iraq for the British government and its armed forces. She presses the defence secretary for further information on the changes that have been made in response to some instances of ill-treatment.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd tells the Commons that he fully accepts the report's conclusions, and welcomes the fact that the soldiers have been exonerated. He seeks assurances that incidents of maltreatment of detainees recognised in the report will be addressed.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Bob Ainsworth, a former Labour defence secretary who commissioned the inquiry, explains how it came in to being. He says serious allegations must be properly investigated but says that the public purse must also be protected from "misuse" and asks the government to look at how to ensure that balance.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Rory Stewart, the Conservative chair of the Defence Committee, commends the report for reinforcing the "honour and respect" of the British Armed Forces. But he urges the defence secretary to focus on the broader political context, saying most of the Iraqi leadership in the province were "convinced of these unimaginable atrocities". He stresses the need to build trust between the British military and local political leaders to ensure soldiers are protected from "baseless" allegations.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Vernon Coaker offers Labour's support for the report's conclusions and recommendations, and says there are lessons to be learned, noting that some soldiers' conduct did amount to "possible maltreatment" which is "not acceptable".

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Responding on behalf of the opposition, shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker says: "We will not tolerate calculated, malicious and baseless untruths against our service men and women."

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Concluding his remarks, the defence secretary says he regrets that it was found necessary to hold a public inquiry to disprove the allegations, which were a "shameful attempt to use our legal system to attack and falsely impugn our armed forces".

Commons: Al-Sweady report

To date the inquiry - set up in 2009 - has cost £31m, MPs are told. Michael Fallon says the Ministry of Defence is considering whether "the claimants' failure to disclose the militia document may allow us to recover some of the costs of the judicial review".

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Michaerl Fallon says the "falsity" of the overwhelming majority of their allegations, the late disclosure of a document showing the nine detainees to have been insurgents and the delay by their lawyers in withdrawing allegations of torture and murder have prompted the Solicitors Regulation Authority to investigate "possible breaches of standards". It is expected to be completed next year, MPs are told.

PMQs verdict

Nick Robinson

Political editor

Rounding off his thoughts on PMQs, BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson says detailed arguments about deficit targets and party commitments are for the Westminster TV studios and are not going to "percolate" too far down to the general public, who are more concerned about job security, pay and their weekly bills.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

"The Iraqi detainees, their accomplices and their lawyers must now bear the brunt of the criticism for the protracted nature and the £31m cost of this unnecessary public inquiry," the Conservative defence secretary tells MPs.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

On the issue of detention, Michael Fallon says he accepts Sir Thayne's conclusions that some of the detainees' treatment amounted to ill treatment. He adds that he accepts all nine of the inquiry's recommendations in principle and has commissioned practical work on their implementation. Detailed conclusions will be announced as soon as is feasible.

PMQs verdict

Apparently those teams of Conservative and Labour spinners have been having a bit of fun during PMQs. The Labour press team posted a tweet suggesting David Cameron's joke writers had been given "the day off" for Christmas while their Tory counterparts responded by suggesting that Labour's economic advisers had been given "four years off". It is the pantomime season after all.

Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar

@AngusMacNeilMP

Tweets: "Very very snide by Cameron calling Milliband a "waste of space" at #pmqs #lowPolitics"

David Montgomery, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for East Renfrewshire

@drdavidmonty

Tweets: "Miliband criticising Cameron for spending too little AND borrowing too much. Good grief. #PMQs"

PMQs reaction

Nick Robinson

Political editor

Nick Robinson says the arguments we just heard on the economy are the ones we will hear at most PMQs between now and May's general election. The leaders' clash was a snapshot of what a TV debate between the two men might sound like, should such a head-to-head encounter ever happen.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

Inquiry chairman Sir Thayne Forbes said some aspects of how the detainees had been treated did amount to ill treatment, but it was not deliberate ill treatment. The "most serious allegations" which "have been hanging over these soldiers for the past 10 years" have been found to be "without foundation" the UK's defence secretary says.

Commons: Al-Sweady report

The inquiry's findings are "incontrovertible", Michael Fallon tells MPs. He says the allegations made were "of the most serious nature" and were "untrue". He adds: "British soldiers did not carry out the atrocities that have been falsely attributed to them."

Commons: Al-Sweady report

The public inquiry ruled that allegations of murder and torture made against British soldiers by Iraqi detainees were "deliberate lies", Michael Fallon says. It found claims that up to 20 Iraqis were killed and mutilated after a 2004 battle were "reckless speculation".

Pic: Ed Balls reacts to a Cameron attack

Ed Balls
BBC

Pic: Osborne gives Cameron a tip

David Cameron and George Osborne
BBC

The verdict

Nick Robinson

Political editor

Initial reaction from the BBC's Nick Robinson: He says Ed Miliband wants to say there is a deficit problem but the scale of cuts is too great and will use the "back to the 1930s" slogan time and time again.

Al-Sweady statement

MPs file out of the chamber as PMQs ends. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon takes his place at the despatch box to deliver a statement on the

Al-Sweady report published this morning.

The last question

The last question is from Lib Dem MP Malcolm Bruce who praises the government's spending on the NHS and criticises the SNP's own record in Scotland. Mr Cameron agrees and rounds off the session by, once again, drawing attention to his "long-term economic plan".

Cold weather

Liz McInnes, whose was elected MP for Heywood and Middleton in October, asks about cold weather payments - saying 18,000 died last winter because of the weather. Mr Cameron says every "excess death" is a tragedy but the number of fatalities last year has half that in 2008-9.

Tim Montgomerie, columnist at The Times

@montie

Tweets: "Miliband insults voters' intelligence saying cuts would take us back to 30s. Spending will be 9x higher in real terms under Tory plans #PMQs"

Oliver Cooper, chairman of Conservative Future

@OliverCooper

Tweets: "8,000 more doctors and 3,000 more nurses in the NHS than in 2010. If Labour cared about the NHS, they'd put that on their leaflets. #PMQs"

Housing benefit bill

We are reaching the end of the session now. Labour's Sheila Gilmore claims that the housing benefit bill is £4bn higher than in 2010. In response, the PM says Labour's economic policy and its approach to welfare cuts is "completely incoherent".

Stamp Duty

The Conservative John Glen asks about stamp duty reforms in the Autumn Statement. The PM says the government is supporting people who "want to get on".

The BBC's World at One on Radio 4

@BBCWorldatOne

Tweets: "Joining @Marthakearney for the last #wato #PMQs panel of 2014: @EstherMcVeyMP, @JeremyBrowneMP and @TristramHuntMP"

Pic: Carswell question

Douglas Carswell
BBC
Douglas Carswell got to ask a second question at PMQs as a UKIP MP - he asked about the green levy on energy bills

Clarke's spending pride

Former Chancellor Ken Clarke says the government's post-election plans would reduce the share of public spending to Labour levels in the late-1990s, joking that these were figures that they inherited from his time in the Treasury. Mr Cameron agrees that talk of a "return to the 1930s" is exaggerated and accuses Labour of making up its policy on the hoof.

Andrew Sinclair, political correspondent for BBC East

@andrewpolitics

Tweets: "Whoops! @DouglasCarswell calls PM "my honourable friend" #pmqs"