London politics LIVE: Oliver Dowden and Angela Rayner clash over NHS waiting lists at PMQs

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has faced MPs in his first Prime Minister’s Questions while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is in Japan.

He clashed with Angela Rayner over waiting lists at the NHS, with the deputy Labour leader saying they are longer than when Mr Sunak made his pledge to reduce them.

Ms Rayner said: “The fact is, waiting lists are longer than when the Prime Minister made his pledge five months ago. The number of people in England waiting to start hospital treatment is the highest since records began. 7.3 million patients left waiting.”

But Mr Dowden insisted the government is making “good progress” on reducing the lists, adding that Rayner was “forgetting” the pandemic.

The pair made jibes at each other - with Mr Dowden accusing Ms Rayner and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of being the “Phil and Holly of British politics”.

On the NHS, Ms Rayner said: “I know the Prime Minister has his own private GP, so maybe he doesn’t appreciate the urgency.”

The pair were stepping in as Mr Sunak joins other members of the G7 in Hiroshima.

Mr Sunak is unveiling a new defence and technology collaboration before seeking to galvanise support for Ukraine during talks with world leaders.

Back in Westminster long-promised plans to ban “no-fault” housing evictions will be introduced to Parliament in the Renters’ (Reform) Bill by Housing Secretary Michael Gove.

Meanwhile a top Metropolitan Police officer is facing questions from MPs over six protesters arrested at the King’s coronation who were then released without charges.

Met Temporary Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist denies officers had been overzealous or were under any political pressure.

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14:14 , Barney Davis

‘They’re the Phil and Holly of British politics' Oliver Dowden blasts Angela Rayner & Keir Starmer

13:22 , Barney Davis

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has branded the Labour leader and his deputy the “Phil and Holly of British politics” as he clashed with Angela Rayner in the Commons.

Deputy Labour leader Ms Rayner said the Conservatives were “stuck in a conveyor belt of crisis” after 13 years in office, as she criticised their record on child poverty and the NHS during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Dowden countered he was “surprised the Lib Dem leader isn’t taking questions today”, referring to reports Sir Keir Starmer has left the door open to working with the Liberal Democrats if he does not secure a Commons majority after the next election.

PM avoids railway chaos on private jet - MP slams Rishi’s flights

13:14 , Barney Davis

A Labour MP highlighted the Prime Minister’s use of a private jet at a time when people are facing chaos on the railways.

Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington) told the Commons: “I was concerned to read last week that the Prime Minister had to be airlifted to a pharmacy in Southampton after suffering electoral dysfunction.

“Several weeks earlier, he flew all the way from Lancashire to Yorkshire by private jet. Meanwhile, angry rail commuters face the reality of cancellations, longer journey times and are unable to get to work on time…

“The public think that the Prime Minister’s got his head in the clouds, they are right, aren’t they?”

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden replied: “It is quite extraordinary to take lectures from the party opposite about the railways when actually the head of the train drivers’ union actually sits on Labour’s NEC.

“He was described by the Deputy leader of the Labour Party as I quote, one of us. No wonder Labour won’t stand up to the militant rail unions. They literally let them drive their policies.”

Labour accused of wanting to rig elections by allowing EU settled citizens the chance to vote

13:13 , Barney Davis

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden suggested Labour was planning to “rig” votes in future elections.

Conservative former minister Sir Desmond Swayne said: “What would be a reason for extending the general election franchise to settled EU citizens, a population of voters equal to the number in Wales?”

Mr Dowden said: “I think that (Sir Desmond) is referring to the plans from the (Labour Party).

“And it’s actually quite interesting that this week while we’re pushing ahead with legislation to break the smuggling gangs, what’s Labour’s big idea? Give foreign nationals in a say in our elections.

“So there we have it. While the Conservatives will stop the boats, Labour will rig the votes.”

Prime Minister wants to protect Greenbelt

13:09 , Barney Davis

Downing Street insisted the Prime Minister was committed to housebuilding in response to Sir Keir Starmer’s comments.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is committed to building new homes.

“But he also wants to ensure that we protect the greenbelt and we encourage people to use brownfield sites where possible.”

Healthcare and child poverty in spotlight

12:46 , Miriam Burrell

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner chose to pull apart the Government’s efforts to reduce NHS wait times and child poverty during today’s PMQs.

She said the number of people in England waiting to start hospital treatment is the highest since records began and 7.3 million patients are left waiting.

She claimed the Government “has taken a wrecking ball to measures by the last Labour government to eradicate child poverty”.

Oliver Dowden said the Government has introduced record increases in the National Living Wage.

Dowden ‘surprised Lib Dem leader isn’t taking questions’

12:43 , Miriam Burrell

Oliver Dowden said he was “surprised the Lib Dem leader isn’t taking questions today” as he faced deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Deputy Prime Minister claimed Ms Rayner and Sir Keir Starmer are the “Phil and Holly” of British politics, and that “it’s all lovey dovey on the surface, they turn it on for the cameras, but as soon as they’re off, it’s a different story”.

Oliver Dowden asked about mental health

12:35 , Miriam Burrell

MP Rachael Maskell said mental health patients are being failed and she urged for a meeting with ministers.

The deputy prime minister said the Government has invested in 150 wider capital schemes and made mental health a priority.

Half of Newcastle children in poverty, MP says

12:33 , Miriam Burrell

Half of children growing up in Newcastle are in poverty, MP Chi Onwurah said.

Oliver Dowden said the Government has lifted 1.7 million people out of “absolute” povery altogether.

UK praised for high reading rates

12:30 , Miriam Burrell

MP Robin Walker said the UK has high performing reading rates. He commended the 10-minute rule bill and urged the Government to adopt it.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he would examine the details of the bill.

Delays to A&E facelift in Shropshire

12:24 , Miriam Burrell

In 2016, £300m was secured to modernise A&E in Shropshire but building work has not started, MP Daniel Kawczynski said.

Oliver Dowden said the trust is due to submit plans in the coming months to the Department of Health and the Government will “work at pace” to make sure it gets started soon.

Public loos shut in Guildford

12:21 , Miriam Burrell

Tory MP Angela Richardson said it’s an “absolute disgrace” that the Lib Dems-run council have shut public toilets in Guildford at night, and women are at risk of sexual assault.

Oliver Dowden said she should make those views known to Guildford District Council.

Travellers parking on private land, MP claims

12:19 , Miriam Burrell

MP Esther McVey said Tatton has a problem with travellers parking on private land, claiming police do not have sufficient powers or are not using them.

She asked Oliver Dowden to make sure police can take action.

The deputy prime minister said Home Office officials regularly liase with police on this.

SNP calls for Govt to admit Brexit has failed

12:18 , Miriam Burrell

SNP deputy leader Mhairi Black said Brexit has led to a shrinking economy and asked the Government to admit it has failed.

Oliver Dowden said the UK has one of the fastest growth rates in the G7 since Brexit.

He said the party needs to work with the Government and stop the focus on independence.

Oliver Dowden asked about child poverty

12:13 , Miriam Burrell

Angela Rayner pointed to child poverty rates increasing, and remembered being a young mother worried about paying her bills.

She asked what level of child poverty is seen as a success.

Oliver Dowden responded by saying the Government has taken one million working-aged people out of poverty.

Rayner turns to NHS wait lists

12:11 , Miriam Burrell

Angela Rayner has now turned to NHS waiting lists.

She said they are now longer than when the Prime Minister made his pledge five months ago.

The Labour deputy leader said 11,000 patients have waited more than 18 months.

Oliver Dowden asked why Labour is opposing the Tory’s minimum service levels.

Rayner, Starmer ‘at each other’s throats'

12:09 , Miriam Burrell

Oliver Dowden has claimed Angela Rayner and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer are “at each other’s throats” in private.

Ms Rayner responded by saying Mr Dowden should take notice of Tory failings before focussing on Labour’s in-house politics.

Dowden asked about Tory local election loss

12:07 , Miriam Burrell

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Oliver Dowden has been the third deputy prime minister she has faced at PMQs.

She asked Mr Dowden who should be responsbile for the Tory loss at the local elections.

Mr Dowden responded by saying he was surprised he wasn’t facing the Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey.

PMQs begins

12:01 , Miriam Burrell

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has begun PMQs.

Where is Rishi Sunak?

11:58 , Miriam Burrell

Rishi Sunak is skipping PMQs this week while he’s in Japan.

The Prime Minister will unveil a new defence and technology collaboration before seeking to galvanise support for Ukraine during talks with world leaders.

He will join allies including the US’s Joe Biden and France’s Emmanuel Macron as the G7 group of industrialised democracies meets in Hiroshima.

Read more here.

Government announces long-promised plans to end ‘no-fault’ evictions

11:55 , Miriam Burrell

After PMQs long-awaited plans to abolish no-fault evictions and give renters the right to keep pets are being introduced in Parliament.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said the sweeping reforms will allow tenants to challenge poor landlords without losing their home.

Read more here.