David Cameron (who patriotically arrived at the Commons earlier today with a St George’s flag flying from the back of his bicycle – expect LOTS of photos in tomorrow’s press of the event) raised the issue of tax credit overpayments. The Tory leader said that some of the poorest people in Britain were now having money painfully taken away from them. The Chancellor is responsible for this incompetence, he said. Mr Blair said that tax credits had helped alleviate poverty for millions of families.
David Cameron’s second set of questions focused on knife crime (recently discussed on ConservativeHome). Why hadn’t the PM carried through on his promise (made on GMTV) to increase the penalty for this form of violence, as he had promised? Mr Blair offered a long list of actions his governments had taken on knife crime but did not make any commitment on minimum sentences.
The LibDem leader asked about extraordinary rendition. The Prime Minister said that he had nothing new to say on this subject. Sir Menzies Campbell quoted the Council of Europe report and its documentation of ‘disappearances’. Does the PM still support rendition, he asked? The PM did not answer.
Labour MP Roger Berry raised the issue of the EPP – asking the Prime
Minister to assure him that the Labour Party would never allow itself
to sit with extremists in the European Parliament. Tony Blair urged
the Tory leader to abandon his policy of taking Conservative MEPs into
a new European parliamentary grouping.
A Labour backbencher raised the issue of funding for the children’s hospice movement. The Prime Minister said that the Government had agreed £27m of extra funding for children’s hospices but was now considering a longer-term funding strategy. Robert Halfon recently pointed this website out to me. It’s a campaign ConservativeHome heartily endorses.
Tory Shailesh Vara raised the most important of issues from the backbenches – the subject of human trafficking. I shall ask Shailesh if he will write a piece for ConservativeHome on this modern form of slavery…