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Prime Minister’s Question Time

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 1st July 2015.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North 11:30 am, 1st July 2015

If he will hold discussions with his Cabinet colleagues to review the effect on voters’ perceptions of Parliament of Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I regularly reflect on Prime Minister’s questions with Cabinet colleagues and others. For all its faults, and there are many, I would say that it has two important points: it puts the Prime Minister on the spot to the public, but it also puts the Government on the spot to the Prime Minister—needing to know issues right across every Department before coming to the House at 12 o’clock on a Wednesday is an important mechanism of accountability.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North

Given that Parliament may be moving out of this place in 2020, will the Prime Minister take that opportunity to share the joys of Prime Minister’s questions, which he has just outlined, and this federal Parliament by convening it in each of the nations of the United Kingdom and thereby symbolise his Government’s and this Parliament’s commitment both to the Union and to devolution?

Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

As I said in an earlier answer, I am committed to trying to cut the cost of politics, and I am not sure that that would help. It is important that we take our politics and issues to all the different regions of the country, and that is something the Government are very committed to do, not least with our regional economic plans for every region of our country. As for the future of this House of Commons and where we stand and where we debate, that is a matter for the House of Commons, but I have to say that I have a slight emotional attachment to this place—the place at this Dispatch Box specifically.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Conservative, Newbury

The brass fittings on that Dispatch Box are worn paper thin by the sweat from the palms of Prime Ministers and Ministers down the ages. That is a visual example of parliamentary accountability. Although our constituents rightly feel that, at times, this session is a little absurd, does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be a great pity if senior members of the Executive were not held to account in that way?

Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I agree with my hon. Friend. I remember taking some constituents on a tour when I first became a Member of Parliament and hearing for the first time something I had not known—namely, that after this Chamber was bombed some of Winston Churchill’s most important speeches and parliamentary occasions took place in the other place rather than here. I do not want to start a complete fight between both Houses, so I think I will leave it at that.