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23 June 2010

Cameron sails through PMQs but fails to answer pressing questions

Harriet Harman goes on the attack over family tax credits.

By James Macintyre

Harriet Harman brought to life a rather dull and uneventful Prime Minister’s Questions today when she pressed David Cameron to confirm that families with children earning less than £40,000 would not lose out on tax credits.

Cameron refused to rule out a loss in that bracket, instead accusing Labour — and Labour leadership contenders — of failing to come up with areas they would cut to help reduce the deficit.

Harman claimed that “Budget small print” showed “big cuts in eligibility for tax credits” and argued that “there are families on a joint income of £30,000 who will lose all their tax credits” under the government’s plans, announced in yesterday’s Budget.

At one point, as tensions rose, John Bercow, the Speaker, reminded the House that “barracking” was “detested by the electorate”. After which Harman said that “what people detest . . . is broken promises”.

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Cameron accused Labour of adopting “Greekenomics” and said it had to “get serious” about the scale of the deficit.

A quiet, parochial and slightly boring PMQs, in which Harman put up a good fight, but a smooth Cameron sailed through with no real cuts or bruises. This, despite one of the most controversial, ideology-driven and risky budgets in modern British political history.