New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made his first appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions at lunchtime today with questions from the public.
Challenging David Cameron over the despatch box for the first time in his political career he delivered questions from ‘Marie, Paul and Gail’ on housing, welfare and mental health.
Wearing a tie, and flanked by his deputy leader Tom Watson and newly appoiinted business secretary Angela Eagle, he said: “Many told me Prime Minister’s Questions was too theatrical and Parliament was out of touch and they wanted things done differently.”
He launched straight into a question on affordable housing to which David Cameron was able to respond with familiar lines heard during the General Election camaign.
David Cameron said: “We do need to deliver more affordable housing in the future, I recognise much more needs to be done that means carrying on with reform on the housing system and continuing to support the aspirations of people to be able to afford their own home which is where Help to Buy comes in.”
Mr Corbyn asked on behalf of the public why tax credits were being taken away to which Mr Cameron said we need a country where ‘work pays’, and the importance of childcare.
The Prime Minister received little challenge despite the new style of questioning and was able to answer back using well rehearsed arguments on how the party is the only one to deliver a strong economy.
He told the House of Commons that if Labour go down the route of ‘limited spending’ and ‘printing money’ they risk the economic security of the nation.
He welcomed the new style of questioning however, joking that no-one would be more delighted than him for a change. It’s understood Conservative MPs were asked to refrain from heckling Mr Corbyn, and David Cameron referred to the Labour party during his answers.
While Mr Corbyn is a seasoned public speaker, who held court in 99 community halls and theatres over the summer during his leadership campaign, this is the first time he has spoken with the authority his new-found high profile position gives him.
In his 32 years in Parliament, the Islington North MP, never held a ministerial seat or a shadow cabinet seat and has spent his time on the backbenches.
Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, asked David Cameron about Greater Yorkshire’s progress with a devolution deal.
Mr Cameron said: “It’s excellent we’ve got those devolution proposals and a number of different ideas. Devolution is coming in terms of real power.”