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The whole country will wish to praise the work of the emergency services and how they have dealt with the unexpected long spell of cold weather. We have all seen and heard incredible stories about neighbour helping neighbour. Can the Prime Minister reassure the House that everything that can be done is being done to ensure that we have sufficient supplies of salt and that it is being properly distributed so that we can keep our country moving at this time?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me a chance to tell the country the most updated situation on the transport network and the protection of our roads by salt. Virtually all main transport networks have remained operational throughout the period. For the work of our highway and other maintenance workers, and to those who are running the emergency services and the thousands of people who are volunteering-I pay tribute to organisations in areas around the country-the country remains deeply grateful. It shows that when there are difficulties, the country comes together as one to meet them.

Five airports in the south and midlands have been and will remain closed for a period this morning, but I believe that they will open later today. We are working with the Highways Agency, the devolved Administrations and representative local government to manage salt supplies. It is important that every road remains safe. It is also important that we have sustainable supplies of salt for what is the longest and worst period of bad weather for 30 years in this country.

As for salt, one of the salt producers has announced this morning that it will produce additional salt. We expect imports of salt in the next few days as a result of arrangements entered into weeks ago, and we are confident that, with the measures announced yesterday by the Transport Secretary, we will be able to maintain the road network. We are working closely with local authorities, and I hope that people will continue to be able to work together for the common good. It does prove that Britain works best when Britain works together.

Mr. Cameron: I am grateful to the Prime Minister for that answer. The pressure on supplies and the steps taken to ration salt in the last week clearly show that lessons can be learned for the future. Can he tell us what steps he will take to hold a review and to involve those in local government, to ensure that we learn those lessons?

The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that each time we have a winter weather problem we should learn lessons from it. Last winter, we set up the UK Roads Liaison Group, and it made three recommendations that we implemented-for local authorities to hold a six-day salt supply, for the Highways Agency to have a bigger reserve and for transport workers to be allowed to work longer hours to deliver the salt. It also recommended the creation of a Salt Cell to ensure a fair distribution of salt throughout the country. We will review all those arrangements after this winter period, but at the beginning of this difficult spell, the Highways Agency had 13 days of supplies, and we are now building on that with orders from abroad and additional production from UK mines. We are doing everything that we can, and the Department for Transport has made every effort to consult all local authorities.

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Ms Dari Taylor (Stockton, South) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will know that today in Great Britain 80,000 children are living in care, 80 per cent. of whom will live in care until they are 16, not in a loving, stable family home. Is it not time that this House considered the lives of looked-after children again and considered that if a child is not living in a stable, loving home in the first 18 months of their life, adoption and long-term fostering must be their right in order to enter a loving, stable home?

The Prime Minister: This is a real challenge not only for all local authorities, but for all people. We must not only pay attention to the number of children in care, but make sure that those children have the chances that every other child has for educational attainment, for jobs and for stability in their lives as they leave care. In 2007, we published the White Paper "Care Matters" and we set out to transform the prospects of children and young people in care. We have made some progress with placement stability, there has been an increase in educational attainment and we have better outcomes for care leavers, but at the same time we must move faster to close the gap. That is why it is important to recognise that public expenditure has been necessary in this and it has doubled since 2000 on the needs of children in care. That is what we have tried to do to help those children.

Mr. Nick Clegg (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD): I want to add my own expressions of sympathy and condolence to the family and friends of Captain Daniel Read from the Royal Logistic Corps, who tragically lost his life serving in Afghanistan on Monday. I also want to add my expressions of sympathy and condolence to the family and friends of Rupert Hamer, the distinguished defence editor of the Sunday Mirror who died in an explosion on Saturday, and of course to the family and friends of his injured colleague, Philip Coburn.

As the Prime Minister said, as news is coming in of the terrible earthquake in Haiti, all our hearts go out to the many, many people who will be so terribly affected by that natural disaster. I am grateful for what he said about the Government's humanitarian response.

Given everything that has come to light in the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, will the Prime Minister now do the decent thing and volunteer to give evidence to the inquiry before people decide how to vote on his record in government?

The Prime Minister: The Chilcot inquiry has drawn up a list of those people that it wishes to interview and has invited the people on the dates that it has done. I will follow the recommendations of the Chilcot committee. I have nothing to hide on this matter and I am happy to give evidence. Equally, at this time, I thought that the outcome of the debate in the House was that the Chilcot inquiry should decide when people were heard.

Mr. Clegg: The point is that this is not just a question for Sir John Chilcot; it is a question for the Prime Minister's own conscience. When the decisions were taken to launch this illegal war, he was not only in the room-he was the one who signed the cheques. He should insist on going to the inquiry now. People are entitled to know before they decide how to vote at the general election what his role was in this Government's most disastrous decision. What has he got to hide?

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The Prime Minister: Nothing, and the right hon. Gentleman was the one who wanted Chilcot to make the decisions about whom he called. He cannot on one day say that Chilcot should decide and then say that he or someone else should decide what happens.

On the Iraq war, we have given every single document to the Iraq inquiry. We have given it the opportunity to look at every document and to ask for which documents it wants to be declassified. The only documents that will be withheld from publication are those that directly affect national security and international relations. This is a full inquiry being run by Sir John Chilcot. People are being interviewed, rightly so, and asked for their evidence, but it is for the Chilcot committee to decide how it proceeds-that is what the right hon. Gentleman proposed.

Early Intervention

Q2. [310397] Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) (Lab): What discussions he has had with hon. Members on an all-party approach to early intervention since 9 December 2009.

The Prime Minister: I have visited my hon. Friend's constituency to look at early intervention programmes, and I am very happy that cross-party discussions on these matters take place. Everybody knows the importance of early intervention to help young children.

Mr. Allen: There are also tremendous economic consequences of early intervention, and early intervention bonds, social impact equities and many other financial instruments raise money from the capital markets rather than from the taxpayer. Will the Prime Minister please encourage the Treasury to look at these imaginative and creative ways of raising money, so that we not only help individuals but find a long-term way of writing down the national debt, thereby reducing the burden on UK taxpayers?

The Prime Minister: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the issue of social impact bonds. They are being looked at by the Justice Secretary at the moment. If the first 48 months of a child's life are more important than the next years because of what is learned or not learned, we have to do more to help children under five. That is why we introduced Sure Start and the child tax credit, and doubled the credit for children in their earliest years. It is also why we have given maternity and paternity leave. All these are important ways in which we can help young children in their earliest years, and I believe that there should be a cross-party consensus on keeping them; I hope that there will be.

Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon) (Con): Given that the Home Affairs Select Committee heard powerful evidence yesterday that one of the primary causes of crime is poor parenting and dysfunctional families, what more can this Government do to bring forward effective policies on early intervention to ensure that fewer children stumble on to the conveyor belt of crime?

The Prime Minister: If I may do so, I refer to the proposal that we are putting forward and the family intervention programmes that I saw in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North
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(Mr. Allen). Let us be honest: there are about 50,000 families in this country that lead such chaotic lives that we need to intervene and turn them round. We need to make a contract with them that a no-nonsense approach will be adopted by them and by us. That is what lies behind the family intervention programme. We are investing heavily in that, and in the parenting tuition that is necessary as part of it. I hope that the hon. Member for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter) will agree that that is a way forward. That is a better expenditure of money to help the children he wants to help than a return to the married couples allowance.


Q3. [310398] Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South) (Lab): In the past 12 months, people in Blackpool have turned out in unprecedented numbers for Remembrance day and Armed Forces day ceremonies and to give a civic welcome to troops returning from Afghanistan. Blackpool has done that because people recognise the sacrifice being made by those who risk their lives daily. Will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government will continue their resolute action against any extremist group, wherever it comes from, that seeks to disrupt and dishonour that support?

The Prime Minister: I praise Blackpool for hosting the first Armed Forces Veterans day. I know that Blackpool has lost soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and my hon. Friend is right to say that we must commemorate all those who have served and made sacrifices for our country. I share his views on extremists who use freedom of speech in our country to foster division and incite hatred and, in some cases, to incite people to kill. We have already strengthened our powers to allow us to prosecute them, and an organisation was proscribed yesterday as a result of our determination to do what is absolutely necessary through the legal process. This is also about standing up for our shared values and showing young people in Muslim communities in particular that we stand for values of justice, dignity and fairness. I believe that our Prevent strategy, which involves talking to people in their schools, churches, faith groups and mosques, is an important way of building inter-religious consensus and a belief that we can solve all our problems together.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): After the events of last week, the Prime Minister told his colleagues that he would change the way he governs. Can he tell us how he will be different?

The Prime Minister: I think that I should start by saying that the right hon. Gentleman looks very different from the poster that we see out there. If you cannot get your photograph right, it is pretty difficult to get your policies right as well. Last week, we announced plans for digital Britain, plans to improve education in our community, and plans for 70,000 jobs in offshore power. We also announced our new growth strategy. This is the Government who are moving forward with policy. He can have his posters; we will have the policies.

Mr. Cameron: The Prime Minister asks about pictures. Why don't we do a bit of market research? When it comes to Labour Members' election addresses, hands
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up who is going to put the Prime Minister's picture on the front. Come on, hands up. [Interruption.] Four! There are six of them who do not want him in the Cabinet, and just four who are going to put his picture on their election addresses. He has been airbrushed out of the whole campaign.

Let us see if the Prime Minister has changed. Let us see if he is prepared to do something that he has never done before-listen to people, and admit his mistakes. My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) asked a very straight question. When Britain went into recession with one of the largest deficits in the industrialised world, that was because this Prime Minister thought he had abolished boom and bust. That claim was wrong, wasn't it?

The Prime Minister: As I keep telling the right hon. Gentleman, we went into the recession with one of the lowest debts in the G7, and the reason we had one of the lowest debts in the G7 is that we had taken action over the previous years to run down the debt that had been run up by the Conservative Government.

I think the country would prefer our policies to a person who has three policies on one day. The right hon. Gentleman needs three television election debates because he has three versions of the same policy to put forward in the debates.

Mr. Cameron: The Prime Minister talks about his policies. We now know what his own election co-ordinator thinks of his policies-yes, the Development Secretary. I do not know whether he is the chairman of the campaign or the co-ordinator of the campaign: the Prime Minister has three people co-ordinating his campaign.

This is what the Development Secretary said. He said that Labour

I must say that I think that is completely unfair. After all, the deputy leader of the Labour party took only five hours and 32 minutes to come out and support the Prime Minister, whereas the Secretary of State for International Development took six hours. [Hon. Members: "Question!"] All right, here comes a question. Let us try something else to see if this Prime Minister has changed. Will he now admit the truth about spending cuts? He has stood there week after week and denied what everyone knows to be true: that there will be spending cuts. The Chancellor now says that those cuts will be the deepest for 20 years. Will the Prime Minister repeat those words?

The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman is becoming even redder-much redder than he is in his photograph on the poster. I have to say that what you see is clearly not what you get.

I have to say this to the right hon. Gentleman as well. I wish that he could talk about policy. We are coming out of the most difficult recession that countries have faced. Every country around the world is facing the difficult public spending decisions that the Chancellor talked about last week. I agree exactly with what he said: that every country has got to face up to it. But there is one way of facing it up to it, and that is publishing our deficit reduction plan, and another way: the right hon. Gentleman's not knowing what he wants to do on the married couples allowance, not knowing
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what he wants to do on national insurance, and not knowing what he wants to do on the top rate of tax. He is asking people for a don't know at the election rather than a yes or a no; and the only policy he has that is not going to change is his policy on inheritance tax, which helps the richest persons in our society.

Mr. Cameron: If the Prime Minister wants to know how people are going to vote, why does he not find some courage for once and call the election?

The Prime Minister talks about policy. The country is fed up with his policies, but his colleagues were not complaining about the policies; they were complaining about the weakness, the dithering and the backbiting. That is what they were complaining about.

Everyone can see that the Prime Minister will not change the way in which he governs. Everyone can see that he will not answer the question, and that he will not be straight with people. Is not the conclusion of the last week that the Cabinet and the Labour party are too disloyal to support him, but too incompetent to remove him? Should he not ask for the verdict of the British people, so that we can get rid of the lot of them?

The Prime Minister: I must say that the right hon. Gentleman's airbrushed poster had better lines on it than the lines that he is delivering today. He should get better lines from the shadow Foreign- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. The Prime Minister must be heard.

The Prime Minister: This is what the Leader of the Opposition said only a few days ago:

He has misdescribed what he is doing, because we know that on the health service there is no guarantee for cancer patients; we know on police that there is no guarantee about neighbourhood policing; we know on education that there is no guarantee of education to 18; and we know on the recession that the Conservatives would have done nothing to take us out of the recession and that they would have gone back to the policies of the 1980s. When he finally wakes up to the fact that policies matter more than posters, he will know that his policies are actually those of the '80s, not those for 2010.

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab): Will the Government back my amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill next week that will rid Parliament of parasitic non-doms?

The Prime Minister: We will look at that amendment, and we will bring our view to the House at the right time.

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