PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS

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The Independent Online
SCORING THE EXCHANGES

Tony

Blair

Blair's case was helped by Sir David Steel, but in fact he needed little support. He kept it short and sweet. While the soundbites were there ("vote Tory for no right to a holiday"), so was everything else

8/10

John

Major

He couldn't or wouldn't answer Blair's questions; unfortunate on a day when the Opposition leader's attacks were particularly on-target

4/10

THEMES OF THE DAY

BAe's sale of Hawk aircraft to Australia,(Nick Hawkins, C. Blackpool S)

The Windfall Tax (Peter Luff, C. Worcester)

Free vote on gun control (Terry Rooney, Lab. Bradford N)

Recent Tory council by-election (Richard Alexander, C. Newark).

BLAIR'S ATTACK

Blair's first question: what is wrong with a law that leaves employees free to work long hours but forbids compelling them to do so? Major's reply summed up the ensuing argument: "I think the Rt Hon Gentleman yet again is in danger of missing the point. Unemployment is falling here as we become more competitive. This directive would reverse that trend."

GOOD DAY.. ...BAD DAY

Sir David Steel

Sir David Steel (L Dem. Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale). Liberal members are making a habit of asking questions which back up Blair's. Paddy Ashdown did it last Tuesday; yesterday, Steel pointed out that in July 1992 Employment Secretary Gillian Shephard assured the House that the Government had secured all its key objectives on the 48-hour week.

Lucy - David Blunkett's guide dog

It was the rowdiest question time for several months. Even the Speaker yelled. ("Stop shouting and barracking for goodness' sake!"). Lucy takes it well, only occasionally raising her head and looking despairingly about. Surely she should be spared such poor human company.

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Asked by Labour's Terry Rooney: "Could the Prime Minister tell the House why he favours having a free vote on caning but not on gun control?" "I have to say to him that I do not agree with him on that" was about as far as Major was prepared to go.

CREEP OF THE DAY

Richard Alexander: After citing a recent council by-election victory, he went on to compliment Mr Major on the wonderful state of the party which he leads, and asked the Speaker: "Can I put it to him . . . that if we continue with sensible policies, my Rt Hon Friend is on course for a record fifth Conservative victory?"

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