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RichardbenyonRichard Benyon has been blogging on the Conservative Party website, and offers this observation about PMQs:

"Prime Minister’s Questions is what much of the country think Parliament is like all the time. I try to point out that for most of the time the “crucible of the nation” is as sparse as a late night tube train. I came into Parliament thinking PMQs would be a ridiculous pastime overdue for reform and one that I would shun. I have changed my mind.

While it is often ridiculous and tends to shed more heat than light, it is worth reflecting that when week after week the most powerful politician in the land has to come to Parliament and to account for the actions of his Government in a confrontational atmosphere. Can you imagine Presidents Bush or Sarkozy coming down from their particular Olympus to be asked such impertinent questions? For a few short minutes it keeps reminding the most powerful in the land that they are mortal after all."

Mr Benyon had a chance to take part in PMQs on Wednesday. Alas, the Prime Minister was at the European Council, and he had to make do with Ms Harriet Harman. Here is the exchange:

Mr. Richard Benyon (Newbury) (Con): When we hear that Northern Rock has passed just one tenth of last week’s interest rate cuts on to its mortgage holders, does the Leader of the House not feel that we need more assurance that the billions that have been spent on the bank bail-out will trickle down to where they are needed—small businesses that want to borrow at affordable rates and people who are worried about the roof over their head?

Ms Harman: The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the whole point of this Government action. It is not for its own sake but actually for the results that it will achieve. We are determined, and indeed agreements have been entered into, that credit will start flowing again to small businesses and to the housing market, in order that we can stabilise the economy and see it through this difficult time.

Mr Benyon blogs:

"The trouble is that we don’t know it will, we must just hope that it does. The portents are not good when a wholly Government owned bank, Northern Rock, has passed on just 1/10th of last weeks interest rate cut to it’s mortgage holders. I am sure that banks will start to try to lend again but will it be at a rate that small businesses can afford. Rather than go bust many companies will pay much higher lending rates but this adds to the structural weakness in our economy."

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