PMQs began with a Labour backbencher asking the Prime Minister if he wanted to hug a hoddie. Sir Gerald Kaufman followed up the line of derision later.
David Cameron asked the Prime Minister to confirm that forced police mergers are out of the question. Only yesterday Lorraine Fullbrook saw her campaign against the merger of Lancashire and Cumbria Constabularies succeed. The Prime Minister appeared to agree that there would be no forced mergers – a reversal of recent policy (a reversal attacked by Charles Clarke – who is quickly become a rent-a-quote). In a very good line David Cameron accused Tony Blair of "wasting police time". Another Labour flagship sinking fast, said David Cameron, was his ID cards policy. Riskily referring to leaked emails from Home Office officials (given Desmond Swayne’s emails) the Tory leader noted civil service warnings that the scheme might fail. The Prime Minister said that the ID cards scheme would be delivered but because of its complexity would inevitably face some implementation difficulties. He attacked David Cameron for u-turning on ID cards and also tuition fees and foundation hospitals. Mr Cameron ended by hoping that John Prescott would not be stand-in-PM over the summer. "Tell us it isn’t true," he pleaded. Tony Blair confirmed that John Prescott will be acting PM – to the relief of journalists worried about filling their pages during the political silly season.
Andrew Robathan was allowed to ask the Prime Minister about John
Prescott’s abuse of the ministerial code. It was unusual for a
backbencher to be called in successive weeks – suggesting that there
might have been a back office deal with The Speaker implicity conceding
that he was wrong to rule last week’s Robathan question out-of-order.
Sir Ming had his most impressive PMQs since becoming LibDem leader. The former barrister asked about the NatWest Three. The LibDems have secured a parliamentary victory by winning a Commons debate on UK/US extradition laws.
Labour’s Kate Hoey asked the question of the day – attacking Government inconsistency on academic selection – consulting in England and Wales but imposing in Northern Ireland.