PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS

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The Independent Online
SCORING THE EXCHANGES

Tony

Blair

6/10

Blair's confident performance had Major frowning and folding his arms. Lost a point for being unable to resist a soundbite, saying the Government was `incompetent, incapable and can never be trusted'.

John

Major

2/10

Major never really found safe ground. He was forced by the Speaker to retract his accusation that Blair was `misleading the House' over beef. He resorted to: `No doubt innocently, the Right Honourable Gentleman has misunderstood...'

BLAIR'S ATTACK

Blair returned to beef, asking Major when the European ban would be lifted. Major replied that it was `in the hands of our European partners'. As Major fumbled about `extra evidence', Blair responded unequivocally: `I have just checked with Hansard and the Prime Minister said that the date for the lifting of the British ban was in the hands of the Government.'

THEMES OF THE DAY

Maria Fyfe (Lab, Glasgow, Maryhill) Cost-effective hospitals

Harry Greenway (C, Ealing North) OECD report on British economy

David Atkinson (C, Bournemouth East) Computers after the millennium

Roger Sims (C, Chislehurst), White Paper on Health

Robert Hughes (C, Harrow West) Damon Hill

GOOD DAY... ...BAD DAY

MARIA FYFE:

Who pointedout that in a geriatric unit in Glasgow, incontinence wipes are limited to 2 per person to save money. Major took refuge in generalisations.

PADDY ASHDOWN:

His question on beef added little to what Blair had just said, but with greater verbosity.

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Will computers be able to cope with the year 2000? Atkinson presented a doomsday scenario in three years' time when business and industry grind to a halt as computers fail to recognise the start of the new millennium.

THE QUIP OF THE DAY

Hughes: "Would the Prime Minister agree that the people of Wakefield would not want us to leave this year without congratulating Damon Hill on winning Sports Personality of the Year .... and what does the Prime Minister make of his being able to achieve it without the help of an audience participation unit?"

THE CREEP OF THE DAY

Greenway asked Major if he had seen the favourable OECD report, presumably to make up for last Thursday's `dissembling' gaffe. Major, delighted he had been given a good end-of- term report before the Christmas holidays, was able to wax lyrical how `the prospects for achieving sustained growth were the best for 30 years.'

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