POLITICS

PMQS 11 January 2011: David Cameron And Ed Miliband Face Off For The First Time This Year

11/01/2012 11:42 GMT | Updated 11/01/2012 15:38 GMT

David Cameron and Ed Miliband faced off for the first PMQs of 2012 on Wednesday, sparking a war of words between Labour and the Tories over rising train fares.

Cameron claims that Labour allowed Train Operating Companies to vary the fares, only imposing a cap on them in 2010 because it was an election year. Ed Miliband accused the PM of failing to address the issue - that fares had rocketed by record amounts earlier this month and Cameron hadn't done anything to stop it.

The PM insisted the mechanism which allowed railway firms to put the fares up by so much was a Labour invention. But he also said a lot of the extra money from tickets would be re-invested into the railways - including the controversial High Speed Two project approved yesterday yesterday.

A document from the department of transport indicates that Labour did bring in a reduction in fares - but only from 2010-11.

However Labour's Andrew Adonis said in a statement that Ed Miliband was right, adding: “The ending of the flexibility was strongly opposed by the train companies, but they complied and it was highly popular with passengers. It was my firm intention to continue the policy for subsequent years, and I was mystified when Philip Hammond, my successor, reinstated the fares flexibility. The only people who supported this change were the train companies."

The Commons is back in business after a long Christmas recess, and a difficult start to the year for the Labour leader.

On Tuesday, Miliband said a future Labour government would accept some cuts and have to make "tough decisions" to pay down the deficit, in what was billed as a fightback speech.

The new year's first battle over the despatch box between the two leaders comes almost a month after Miliband had a disastrous final PMQs of 2011. This meant he was always coming into today's PMQs at a disadvantage, and in fact Cameron was quite merciful, not mentioning any of the twitter gaffes or Miliband's mangling in the press this morning after his detail-light speech on the economy yesterday.

Overall we felt that David Cameron just about edged it over Ed Miliband, who improved as the questions progressed and looked statesmanlike, if boring, during the questions about the timing of the Scottish independence referendum, upon which Labour and the Tories almost entirely agree.

Still, encouraging that we might just have some humdinger close-run PMQs some day.

Here's how it played out in detail.