PMQs was particularly rowdy this week, partly because of the bruisers on the order paper and partly due to the looming showdown with the Lords on the Welfare Reform Bill, due to take place later today.
The comedy highlight was David Cameron's referring to shadow minister Liam Byrne as "Baldemort". It's the second time he's done this, but doesn't appear to attract the same hostility as "calm down, dear". HuffPost isn't clear why, perhaps Liam Byrne secretly likes it.
Ed Miliband appears to be finding his groove at the weekly knockabout lately, splitting his questions between executive pay at the banks and the NHS. On the former he was on slightly shaky ground, but he easily bested the PM on the health service, where David Cameron is struggling to rebut effectively allegations that the medical community is overwhelmingly opposed to the reforms going through.
Many questions from backbenchers were on Welfare Reform, where the PM was able to repeatedly taunt Labour backbenchers on whether they will support attempts to overturn the Lords amendments tonight. Three planted questions from Tories allowed Cameron to quiz Labour MPs, and they didn't respond at all. Chances are the votes in the Commons will go through, the only question is whether the government will make concessions or if the Lords will back down against the will of the elected chamber.
Here's a round-up up today's highlights.
01/02/2012 12:33 GMT
And it's all over for another week...
..and you get the sense that Labour are getting more organised at this. Cameron sounds increasingly on the back foot and Ed Miliband is finding his groove. The times they are a changing.
This is not the end of the focus on the Commons for today, though. MPs will be voting on the Lords amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill throughout the afternoon, and sending them back to the Lords. Expect the fireworks to continue throughout the day, and we'll be covering developments here.
01/02/2012 12:29 GMT
Claims that RBS hasn't signed up to the "Living wage" scheme which is about a pound higher than the minimum wage.
PM: I thought we might have a supporter for the benefits cap. But no. The government is "beginning to get this bank under control".
01/02/2012 12:28 GMT
A Tory MP's view..
@ DavidJonesMP :
Ed doing less gurning. Think he's been spoken to. #PMQs
01/02/2012 12:28 GMT
Asks once again about the benefit cap, urging the PM to stand firm on the £26,000 figure.
PM says people need to be convinced that work is better on benefits.
Cameron for a third time urges Labour to agree. Not a sausage.
01/02/2012 12:26 GMT
Urges Labour to support the benefit cap.
Cameron: Yes. Is Labour with us in the lobbies tonight? "Absolutely hopeless".
01/02/2012 12:25 GMT
Katy Clark on DLA for disabled kids + David Nuttall
Rejects the PM's claim that the Welfare Reform Bill will adversely affect children recieving the lower rate of DLA.
PM insists that no-one on the lower rate will be worse off. He'd earlier said that some people might even be better-off.
Following on from a more supportive question by David Nuttalll, Cameron urges Labour to nod that they will be backing the government in the divisions tonight. Labour refuse to comply. Cameron describes it as "one big vaccum".
01/02/2012 12:21 GMT
The advisors bench has flipped?
Ed Miliband's advisers in the Galleries look happy. Government SpAds a bit glum. How things change, a few weeks ago it was the exact opposite.
01/02/2012 12:19 GMT
Dan Jarvis on cold weather payments and the NHS
Is it a good use of money to do this top-down reorganisation?
Cameron reels of his earlier list of improving performance figures in the NHS
01/02/2012 12:19 GMT
Hot off the picture desk
Cam at PMQs today
01/02/2012 12:18 GMT
Who came out on top?
Slightly unusual for the opposition to go for a 4-2 split in questions, but was interesting that the backbench cheering rallies are once again becoming a Commons fixture. Cameron was strong on pay, but not so strong on NHS, was it a good idea to invoke Tony Blair as a weapon?
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