Major was well prepared to allege Labour shenanigans in response to Blair's call for the immediate publication of the Downey report. He did so with force and passion.
Blair was equally sure of himself, putting the argument for a later prorogation, and a continuing cash-for-questions investigation with equal force and passion.
Blair said that the report by Sir Gordon Downey, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, could and should be seen before Parliament was dissolved. Major said the report was just the start of a new process of examination by the Standards and Privileges Committee. Blair reminded Major that he had said last year that he wanted the report published before the election, and told Major that his stance did not look like "can't" but "won't". Major replied with a torrent of allegations of Labour sleaze, and said Blair was only using the affair to try to hide recent good news about the economy.
THEMES OF THE DAY
The timing of the prorogation of Parliament (Chris Mullin, Lab, Sunderland South; Blair; Paddy Ashdown)
Prices of privatised electricity in the Southern region (Sir James Spicer, C, Dorset W)
The economy (Winston Churchill, C, Davyhulme)
GOOD DAY.. ...BAD DAY
Ashdown's manner always riles Major, who went over the top calling the Liberal Democrat leader "pious and pompous".
David Shaw (C, Dover) led Tory backbench catcalls. Eventually, the Speaker could take no more, and Shaw (majority 833) was reprimanded on what could be his penultimate day in the House.
QUIP OF THE DAY
Dennis Skinner (Lab, Bolsover), who piped up in response to one of the day's two creeps. According to Spicer, if Major visited Dorset, he could pass on "the good news that as from Tuesday they've had an 11 per cent cut over the course of the last nine months in their electricity bills". "Don't go there by train," advised Skinner.
Churchill: Is the unemployment in France and Germany "due to the fact that they have not had the benefit of the Thatcher/Major revolution?" A complex question to which the Prime Minister did not address himself.
CREEP OF THE DAY
Churchill: "May I thank my Rt Hon Friend and his Government on behalf of my Manchester constituents for making this country the best functioning economy of all of Europe?"Reuse content