The Government was accused of being "in the pockets of an elite few" by Jeremy Corbyn as he revealed "in the last two years nine of the richest hedge fund tycoons have donated £2.9 million to the Conservative Party".

Theresa May hit back at Prime Minister's Questions, saying that "income inequality is down since 2010" when the Tories came into office, adding her party "want everyone to be better off, everyone to have good jobs and everyone to have a better life".

But the Labour leader said the Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir Angus Deaton had said the UK "risks having extreme inequality levels of pay, wealth and health", asking: "Is that something the Prime Minister is proud of?"

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Mrs May replied that the "top 1% are contributing more income tax than at any point under the last Labour government".

Mr Corbyn later urged Mrs May to restore the link between inflation and social security to "try to reduce the disgraceful levels of child poverty" in the country. In his concluding remarks, the Labour leader said: "When the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in Britain has increased by £50 billion in one year but there's not enough money to properly feed our children or pay workers a decent wage, then we have failed as a society.

"This country is seeing the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, while the Government is in the pockets of a super-rich elite.

"More children in poverty, more pensioners in poverty, more people struggling to make ends meet - when is she and her Government going to reverse the tax giveaways to the super-rich and make sure they pay their fair share of taxes so we can end the scandal of inequality in modern Britain?"

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Mrs May said the top 1% are paying more in income tax than they did under a Labour government, adding: "The Labour Party has a plan for a system where everybody in this country would get benefits.

"That means handouts to hedge fund managers paid for by tax hikes on working people. Labour's policy: money for the rich paid by taxes on the poor."

The PMQs session began in slightly farcical fashion as Mr Corbyn apologised for starting a "parliamentary sing-along" after quoting the entertainer Doris Day, who died this week.

He said it was "only right" the House pays tribute to a "leading Hollywood icon and animal rights activist", adding: "I'm tempted to quote some Doris Day songs but I won't." But after encouragement from the backbenches he recited a line in the song

The Deadwood Stage from the film Calamity Jane, saying: "Alright, whip-crack away!"

As the noise levels rose in the chamber, the Labour leader added: "I do apologise Mr Speaker, I've obviously started a parliamentary sing-along here." In response Mrs May said she also wanted to mark the "sad passing of someone who gave us many hours of entertainment through her films and career, Doris Day".

PMQs was interrupted by the sounding of an alarm in the Commons chamber. Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) was asking the Prime Minister about the results of trials of the National Bereavement Care Pathway when a loudspeaker announcement went off saying "Can I have your attention, can I have your attention? The test is now completed."

MPs erupted into cheers after the announcement and Speaker John Bercow joked that Ms Sandbach had "indeed passed the test".