UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn demands tax credit 'guarantee' at PM's questions

Tax credits

Jeremy Corbyn has pressed David Cameron to guarantee nobody will be worse off as a result of cuts to tax credits.

During Prime Minister's Questions, the Labour leader told the PM he had lost the backing of Conservative supporters over the controversial reforms.

Ministers are to set out new proposals following Monday's Lords defeat, with peers voting to delay the £4.4bn cuts.

Mr Cameron said any savings not made from tax credits would have to come off budgets like the police and the NHS.

People would benefit from a higher tax threshold and free childcare, he said.

New tactics from Corbyn

The Labour leader changed his approach from his first two clashes with the PM, focusing all six of his questions on the issue of tax credit cuts due to come into force in April.

It sounded more like a PMQs of old, as Mr Corbyn accused Mr Cameron of not answering his specific question.

"What exactly does the prime minister mean?" he asked. "He must know the answer."

He also said the prime minister had "lost the support of many people who were actually quite sympathetic to his political project".

Mr Cameron said Mr Corbyn "would have to be patient" and wait for Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement, on 25 November.

There was only one crowd-sourced question this week from Mr Corbyn, with his final question coming on behalf of Karen, a public sector worker worried about losing out under the tax credit reforms.

Cameron's response

The prime minister repeated his defence of the changes, saying Karen and other workers would benefit from government policies including a higher minimum wage and free childcare as well as a stronger economy.

He also said "every penny we do not save" from welfare would have to be found elsewhere. BBC deputy political editor James Landale said the PM was trying to form a defence to Labour attacks ahead of the Autumn Statement, by framing the debate as a choice of where spending cuts would fall.

Mr Cameron also went on the offensive, saying the changes had been voted on five times by the House of Commons, with no Conservative rebellion, accusing Labour of relying on unelected peers. A "strange alliance" is forming, he said, between "the unelected and the unelectable".

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron gets to ask a question

Last time the Liberal Democrats were in opposition, the party's then leader Nick Clegg had an allocation of two weekly questions.

There is no such luxury in the current Parliament where the Lib Dems have just eight MPs. Mr Clegg's successor, Tim Farron, was called by the Speaker for the first time today, asking about refugees following his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos where thousands of migrants are arriving every day.

Mr Farron called for Britain to take in 3,000 unaccompanied children in Europe, as requested by Save the Children.

The PM started with a joke, welcoming Mr Farron and saying it was "good to see such a high turnout of his MPs" (most but not all of the eight-strong contingent were sitting nearby) before repeating his pledge to take 1,000 refugees from Syrian camps before Christmas.

He said he had looked at Save the Children's request carefully.

"There are other NGOs and experts who point to the very real danger of separating children from their broader families and that's why to date we haven't taken that decision," he added.

Pick of the clips

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Media captionCameron asked for tax credit cut 'guarantee'
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Media caption'Why is PM punishing working families?'
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Media captionLabour leader's tribute to Michael Meacher
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Media captionFarron 'ashamed' UK not taking more migrants
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Media captionMP asked PM about bullying in Commons

Porn filters law

Image copyright PA

The prime minister said the government had secured an "opt out" so new EU laws will not affect the online "filter" system aimed at protecting children from viewing pornography.

He also said the government would legislate to put its agreement with internet companies on the filter into law, "so that our children will be protected".

The voluntary filters block pornographic websites, as well as pages promoting self-harm or drug taking.

Children's homes review

Mr Cameron announced he had ordered an independent review into children's homes to ensure those who cannot get adopted have "the best start in life".

It will be led by former Barnardo's chief executive Sir Martin Narey who Mr Cameron described as an "excellent public servant".

At the Conservative Party conference Mr Cameron promised to improve the care system which "shames our country".

A Downing Street spokesman said the review would start straight away and full details would be announced shortly.

Sir Martin will be looking at why children end up in care, what treatment they receive and how the state could do more to support them, the spokesman added.

Energy refund for steel industry

Mr Cameron said the steel and other energy intensive industries would be refunded for policy costs including so-called "green taxes" once the European Union makes a decision on state aid.

Thousands of job cuts have been announced in the industry in recent weeks.

"And I can confirm that payment will be made immediately and that payment will be made throughout this Parliament - far more generous than what has been proposed by Labour," he said.

Extra time

The session went on longer than usual, finishing at 12:38 GMT with a question from Simon Burns asking whether the government would extend workplace bullying legislation "to this chamber".

"Given that he has been called at 12:38 I would've thought that any hint of bullying was over in this House," the PM responded, a likely reference to Mr Burns' reportedly strained relationship with Speaker John Bercow.

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