It was a particularly rowdy prime minister’s questions before the spending round today. Prime Minister David Cameron repeatedly pressed opposition leader Ed Miliband on whether or not he would borrow more, a question that he did not answer.
Miliband came out all guns blazing, however, noting a number of damning statistics attacking infrastructure spending. First, where the education minister said last May that work would begin immediately on 261 new schools, just one had been started. In addition, while Cameron said they would bring forward 561 infrastructure projects in October 2011, just seven have been completed and 80 per cent have not been started. In a triumphant climax, he highlighted deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s complaints that the gap between intention, announcement and delivery of projects is significant.
IFS say infrastructure spending this parliament has been slightly above Labour's plans.— Adam Boulton (@adamboultonSKY) June 26, 2013
Cameron also made an uncalled-for (and outdated) dig at Miliband, saying it's no wonder people call him Bert from the muppets as he belongs on Sesame Street rather than Downing Street. His other joke that it's not just people at Wimbledon asking for new balls (referring to shadow chancellor Ed Balls) was also met with a mix of laughter and groans.
Some weeks Cameron turns up to work at #PMQs. This week he turned up to back row of classroom to make schoolboy jokes.— Isabel Hardman (@IsabelHardman) June 26, 2013
Housing was a hot issue, with Miliband outlining a failure of the NewBuy scheme and Cameron saying he would not rule out further action to address the supply shortage. Cameron was also questioned by Crispin Blunt about protection for green belt land. He replied that while the rules haven't changed, he is hoping to strike a balance between environmental protection and addressing the housing shortage.