David Cameron attacked John Reid’s brief record in the Home Office, saying he had already blamed "Judges, the civil service and the public" and asked if he would get on with the job himself and be any better than his predecessor.

Blair defended Reid, and was in something of an arrogant mood. Replying to Cameron’s second question he said "Excuse me, the right honourable gentleman is talking absolute rubbish", and went on to use his soundbite of the day, which he repeated later:

"They talk tough in the media but vote soft in Parliament".

A detailed and passionate argument ensued between them about indeterminate sentences, the Sentencing Guidelines Council and the number of paroles. Blair’s main argument was later corrected when Edward Garnier pointed out how the government had "destroyed" the Parole Board.

Menzies Campbell asked about the cost and waste of nuclear power – noting that the 2003 Energy Review had discouraged its use. Campbell got a small sarcastic cheer for managing to ask his two questions without a gaffe. Blair responded confidently about the need for nuclear power, pointing to new technology and the need for a balance of sources.

Cameron changed the focus to the NHS, asking about the long-term effects of the loss of Multiple Sclerosis nurses – who save the NHS money – and the wider problem of job losses in the Health Service. He also asked the PM to apologise for Patricia Hewitt’s "crass insensitivity" in saying the NHS was having its best year ever. Usual replies from Blair.

John Thurso asked Blair to name a big Government IT project that had to gone to plan, unsurprisingly to an inadequate response.

Deputy Editor