David Cameron ducked reform of Prime Minister’s Questions with a “disgraceful” reply to a long-term critic of the weekly bouts.
Labour MP Paul Flynn wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to consider reforming the Parliamentary clash, described by one MP this week as a “ridiculous shambles”.
Mr Cameron has spoken out against PMQs numerous times, calling it a “nightmare” and saying it feels him with “trepidation”.
But he spurned the opportunity to back Mr Flynn’s reforming ideas, which include allowing MPs to ask the Prime Minister follow-up questions and even moving the weekly clash to the less confrontational Westminster Hall.
In a letter to Mr Flynn, Mr Cameron said: “Prime Minister’s Questions is an important part of our modern, democratic process – a way for Members of Parliament to hold the Prime Minister to account on a range of issues and an opportunity for them to raise constituency matters.
“As you say in your article, suggested reforms have been mooted over the years.
“Some have worked others but, ultimately, PMQs has a long tradition of robust exchanges and debate and, while we all have a responsibility to ensure that the session is conducted in a respectful manner, the behaviour of Members must remain a matter for The Speaker.
“I am sure that you will share your views and ideas with Mr Speaker [John Bercow].”
Mr Cameron’s lukewarm response to Mr Flynn’s suggestions of reform run counter to his complaints about PMQs earlier this year.
During an Ask The Leaders debate with younger voters for Sky News in February, Mr Cameron described PMQs as a "Roman circus" that is "noisy and crazy and infuriating".
"At five minutes to twelve every Wednesday, I cant tell you, I put my head in my hands," he said. "It's a nightmare."
Mr Flynn, MP for Newport West since 1987, was frustrated by the Prime Minister’s lack of support for reform.
He said: “It’s a disgraceful reply and he’s batting it back to the Speaker.”
Mr Flynn attacked Mr Bercow, who is known for his withering put downs of raucous MPs, for not being tough enough on the Prime Minister. He said: The Speaker is not saying to the Prime Minister ‘you are not answering the question asked’.”
Referring to Wednesday’s PMQs, Mr Flynn said: “We can’t have five years of this.”
A Freedom of Information Request from The Huffington Post UK revealed between April and June last year 94 letters were sent to the Speaker’s office from members of the public complaining about PMQs.
MPs were described as "Nodding donkeys", "sneering fools", "jeering cranks" and "screeching women" in the letters, with some also criticising Mr Bercow as well.