Prime Minister's questions

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Indy Politics
The leaders tackle each other

John Major

Major caught Blair out on the question of Scottish and Welsh devolution referendums: Blair had said that a Bill on devolution would be published before the referendums were staged, but more recently that voters' judgement would be informed by a white paper, not a Bill. Why had he changed his mind? Blair would not admit to doing so, simply saying that all relevant points would be in the white paper.

Verdict: Major wins

Paddy

Ashdown

A decision on monetary union will soon be made, and the choice will probably be between relaxation of conditions, or delay: which would Blair choose? Ashdown pointed out that Maastricht allowed a degree of flexibility in the timetable - would the Government push for this provision to be used? Blair said it was important that the criteria should not be "fiddled or botched".

Verdict: Draw

THE BACKBENCH ISSUES

THEMES OF THE DAY

A possible `entente cordiale' with France's Socialist victors (Denis MacShane, Lab. Rotherham)

The West Lothian question (Stephen Day, C. Cheadle)

E-Coli deaths in Scotland (Dennis Canavan, Lab. Falkirk West)

The Stephen Lawrence case (David Winnick, Lab. Walsall North)

GOOD DAY... ...BAD DAY

David Davis

(C. Haltemprice and Howden) - said that Blair believed reducing labour costs would reduce unemploymen. So why did he think that a minimum wage, raising labour costs, would not increase unemployment? Blair did not say.

David Wilshire

(C. Spelthorne) - Said Bill Clinton had a "real First Lady", and that Labour ministers were using the title for Cherie Booth. They should "stop this arrogant practice". Blair said Wilshire should stop "insulting the wives of politicians".

THE QUIP OF THE DAY

Blair - Eurosceptic William Cash asked him to go to Amsterdam and renegotiate the Maastricht treaty, "as I have repeatedly asked of our previous Prime Minister". Major rolled his eyes. "I hope he does more good for me than he did for the Rt Hon Gentleman", said Blair of Cash.

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Cynog Dafis (PlC. Ceredigion) asked a specific question on the Earth Summit. Helen Jackson (Lab. Sheffield Hillsborough) asked a supplementary about 30-plus class sizes in her constituency. Because her question did not relate to the Earth Summit, the Speaker ruled it out of order, and Blair was unable to answer.

THE CREEP OF THE DAY

Rachel Squire (Lab. Dunfermline W) asked Blair to confirm that the Eurofighter aircraft was vital to Britain's defence needs, and its importance should be made clear to the German Chancellor. "Of course" said Blair, "she would know" that the Defence Secretary was making this point to his German counterpart as they spoke.

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