'He can dish it out but he can't take it': David Cameron accuses Ed Balls of being a bully in benefits rise rowDavid Cameron hits back at heckles from the shadow chancellor during Prime Minister's QuestionsInsults hurled over plan to cap benefits at 1% for the next three yearsEd Miliband says people affected include those cleaning George Osborne's office while he is still in bed
15:17 GMT, 12 December 2012
David Cameron today accused Ed Balls of being a bully who ‘can dish it out but he can't take it’ as insults were thrown in a Commons row over government plans to limit rises in benefits to 1 per cent a year.
The Prime Minister accused the shadow chancellor of ‘not being able to keep his mouth shut for 20 seconds’ after a stream of heckles about the below-inflation cap on welfare handouts.
Mr Cameron clashed with Ed Miliband, who said the real-terms cut in state benefits was a ‘tax on strivers’.
David Cameron took aim at Ed Balls' heckling today, after the shadow chancellor's gaffe at the despatch box last week during a debate on the Autumn Statement (left)
And in a swipe at the PM’s membership of the infamous Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, the Labour leader asked: ' Have you wrecked a restaurant recently’
Last week Chancellor George Osborne announced he was ending the link between inflation and benefits rises, and from next April most working age benefits would rise by only 1 per cent, not the 2.2 per cent as planned. The policy will save 3.7billion by 2016-17.
But Mr Osborne’s suggestion that it was necessary to curb handouts for the jobless who are ‘still asleep, living a life on benefits’ while others go to work was seized on by Labour who say six in 10 of those affected are in jobs.
Defending the policy at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron said: ‘The fact is this, that welfare needs to be controlled and everyone who is on tax credits will be affected by these changes because we have to get on top of the welfare bill.’
Mr Cameron said a person working full-time on the minimum wage would see their income tax bill halved under the coalition Government.
'We are saying to working people you can earn another 3,000 before you even start paying income tax. This is the party for people who work, his is the party of unlimited welfare.'
Labour leader Ed Miliband mocked the PM for his membership of university dining group, the Bullingdon Club, asking: 'Have you wrecked a restaurant recently'
But Mr Miliband claimed more than 60 per cent of those affected by the one per cent cap are in work.
He launched a deeply personal attack on the Chancellor saying those affected by the benefit curb included low earners.
'It's the factory worker on the night
shift, it's the carer who looks after elderly people around the clock
and it's the cleaner who cleans the Chancellor's office while his
curtains are still drawn and he's still in bed.
'The Chancellor calls them scroungers, what does the Prime Minister call them'
The Labour leader accused Mr Osborne ‘trying to play divide and rule’.
Miliband added: ‘He said his changes were all about people living a
life on benefits… but it turned out it just wasn’t true – it was a tax
Mr Miliband accused Chancellor George Osborne of targeting his benefits squeeze on the person who cleans his office while he is still in bed
Amid a barrage of heckling from the Labour frontbench, Mr Cameron turned his fire on Mr Balls, who last week blamed his stammer for a blunder in the Commons about whether or not the deficit is falling.
The PM said: ‘I'm surprised the Shadow Chancellor is shouting again because we learnt last week, like bullies all over the world he can dish it out but he can't take it. He never learns, he never learns.’
But Mr Miliband responded: ‘I’ve heard everything when the boy from the Bullingdon Club lectures people on bullying – absolutely extraordinary. Have you wrecked a restaurant recently’
The Bullingdon Club has a reputation for wealthy students donning dinner suits to trash restaurants in Oxford.
Mr Balls, described as a serial ‘heckler, barracker and sledger’, was knocked off his stride last week when the Chancellor announced that the Government’s deficit was forecast to fall this year.
In an apparent slip, he conceded that the national deficit was ‘not rising’, provoking a wave of Tory cheers.
Indeed, Mr Balls, who has spoken in the past about his lifelong battle with a stammer, appeared to speak the words clearly.
But the following day he suggested his condition was to blame for his confusion, saying it sometimes ‘got the better of him’.
‘Everybody knows with me that I have a stammer,’ he said. ‘Sometimes that stammer gets the better of me in the first minute or two when I speak, especially when I have got the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and 300 Conservative MPs yelling at me at the top of their voices.
VIDEO: Ed Balls gets in a muddle with the deficit
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