PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS

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SCORING THE EXCHANGES

John

Major

4/10

Major said that the creation of a single currency in January1999 was 'extremely unlikely'. But he went to great lengths to avoid answering Blair's question: 'might we join if Europe was [ital] ready?'. Yet immediately after the session, Downing Street answered the Blair question- it was, again, 'extremely unlikely'.

Tony

Blair

6/10

Blair's first and second questions highlighted the shift in Major's position on EMU, but his third question let him off the hook by bringing up the issue of a Conservative split, allowing Major to throw the accusation back at Labour..

THEMES OF THE DAY

Spending on the Millennium (Alex Salmond, SNP, Banff and Buchan)

The single currency

The windfall tax, Richard Alexander (C, Newark)

Labour's handling of the economy, Tim Yeo (C, Suffolk South)

Primary school class sizes, Harry Cohen (Lab, Leyton)

BLAIR'S ATTACK

Blair's first question established that Major thought Europe would not be ready to launch the single currency in 1999. His second question, asking Major to say clearly whether or not Britain would join if the conditions were satisfactory, established that Major did not want to discuss that scenario.

GOOD DAY... ...BAD DAY

Alex Salmond

He had calculated the benefit to schools that the funding allocated to the Millennium Dome could provide. Major fumbled and evaded the question.

Henry Bellingham

(C, Norfolk NW) A statement, dressed up as a question, on the windfall tax, was ruled out of order by the speaker because he was asking about Labour policy for which the Prime Minister has no responsibility.

THE QUIP OF THE DAY

Thomas McAvoy (Lab, Glasgow Rutherglen): "Is it not regrettable that the Defence Secretary, Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister were never members of the cadets, given that the first needs lessons in loyalty, the second needs lessons in self-discipline and this Prime Minister needs lessons in leadership?"

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Bob Hughes (Lab, Aberdeen North) "Will the PM say why he is spending hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation for farmers for the BSE crisis; in excess of pounds 100m in compensation . . . under the firearms bill . . . yet refuses to give any compensation to those infected with Hepatitus 'C'?

THE CREEP OF THE DAY

Alexander decided it was worth risking a question unrelated to government policy. His question on the windfall tax was not picked up on by the Speaker, and allowed Major to spend time discussing Labour's plans rather than those of the Government.

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