VERDICT: "Cameron edged it but only just. Brown is more confident when the subject matter is the economy. David Cameron needs to refine his economic critique. It is plausible for Brown to say that voters won’t believe that Labour caused Britain’s economic problems. Most will see the recession as a global phenomenon. The Conservatives must focus their attack on Labour’s failure to leave much room for Britain to take recession-averting actions. Not a good day for The Speaker either. Dennis Skinner has a record of attacking Osborne. In calling him Michael Martin was inviting the attack on George Osborne that the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ did indeed make. The Speaker also called more MPs from the non-Tory opposition backbenches than from the Tory backbenches."
Highlights, not verbatim:
12.30pm: Dennis Skinner raises the Osborne issue: Can the PM promise that he won’t approach Russian billionaires to rescue the Labour finances? The PM replies by saying that this is a serious manner and should be investigated.
12.27pm: Graham Stringer invites the PM to cancel plans for a congestion charge for Greater Manchester and simply bring forward investment in the tram system. The PM doesn’t answer the question.
12.21pm: John Whittingdale invites the Prime Minister to reinstate Empty Property Relief.
12.19pm: Nick Clegg says the Government is all at sea on economic policy – even if it isn’t on a luxury yacht (boom! boom!). Brown says the Government will look at all ideas that will help the economy. He attacks the LibDems for promising £20bn of cuts in public services.
12.17pm: Nick Clegg asks what the Government will do to help the real economy. Will it wait until things are as bad as they got for the banks? What, in particular, will the Government do about fuel poverty? Brown makes a joke about Nick Clegg not knowing the real level of the pension. Vince Cable smiles naughtily at this joke!
12.15pm: Brown says the issue is the judgment of David Cameron and the Shadow Chancellor. Neither he says are offering any real solutions to Britain’s economic problems.
12.11pm: The Prime Minister asks me to name the causes of recession, we’re looking at them says David Cameron – pointing at the Labour benches. He invites the PM to again admit that he hasn’t abolished ‘boom and bust’. Brown again doesn’t answer the question and says that noone other than the Opposition believes that this is a UK-made recession.
12.09pm: David Cameron: For years the Chancellor talking about prudence with a purpose, now it’s borrowing without limit. Will the Prime Minister finally admit that he didn’t abolish ‘boom and bust’. Brown replies by accusing Cameron of talking down the economy.
12.06pm: Cameron says the problem with Labour’s borrowing was that it was undertaken in good times. He says too much of Britain’s debts are off balance sheet, notably PFI. "Britain is being governed by a master of dodgy accounting". Half of OECD nations have surpluses that they can use to beat recession. Does he not regret that Britain does not?
12.04pm: Cameron rises with Osborne sat next to him. Cameron asks if it was a mistake to have such high borrowing. Brown replies by saying that Britain can afford to borrow because it has such low overall debt levels.
Noon: Brown announces something on repossessions. Missed the detail.