Hague said that shares in BP held by Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Lord Simon, created a conflict of interest, and that he was holding the shares in Jersey "in order to pay less tax". Blair said that a "vile and scurrilous" campaign was being waged and that Hague should "go away and grow up."
Ashdown warned once more of "a winter crisis on the [hospital] wards". Blair said Labour had "inherited" the Conservatives' spending levels for this year, but the injection of pounds 1.2bn planned for next year was already helping health authorities to plan ahead.
THE BACKBENCH ISSUES
THEMES OF THE DAY
The people of Lichfield (Michael Fabricant, C. Lichfield)
Repairs to school buildings (Paddy Tipping, Lab. Sherwood)
Housebuilding on green-field sites (Bowen Wells, C. Hertford & Stortford)
Shareholder dividends at South West Water (Linda Gilroy, Lab. Plymouth Sutton)
The people of Midlothian (Eric Clarke, Lab. Midlothian)
GOOD DAY... ...BAD DAY
Calmed things down after the leaders' bare-knuckle bout, with a question about literary summer schools. Blair, still gulping for breath after the fight, was grateful.
Had a go at being a creep, but became tongue-tied. Asked if Blair would "have a time in Midlothian, because we would welcome him ... he would get a `yes-yes' vote"
THE QUIP OF THE DAY
Sir Michael Spicer (C. Worcs West) had little chance of catching Blair out when he asked: "looking back over the past 96 days, what does the Prime Minister think to have been his worst mistake?" "That's for me to know and him to find out," Blair replied.
THE UNANSWERED QUESTION
Paddy Ashdown asked: "Will waiting lists be cut this winter?". Blair would only say: "It is precisely in order to cut waiting lists that we have taken the measures that we have already outlined to cut bureaucracy."
THE CREEP OF THE DAY
Paddy Tipping challenged the Prime Minister to agree with him that, "one of the most damning legacies of the Tory years is the state of disrepair of our schools." He also observed: "it must be the case that investment in education is investment in our future." Blair "absolutely" agreed.Reuse content