Blair's first question showed that he wasn't looking to entrap Major with clever facts, but was using the NHS as a launching pad for a "the Government must go" conclusion.
Major concentrated on Labour's opposition to Conservative Health policy, and said Blair should stop "harping on". As always, the two leaders presented polarised views of the NHS.
Blair asked whether Stephen Dorrell should "concentrate on dealing with the crisis in the NHS rather than adding to the crisis in the Conservative party". Major replied: "he has been an outstanding Secretary of State". Blair asked about a survey saying that many accident and emergency departments were in crisis. Major said Labour had opposed all the improvements the Conservatives had made to "create a modern NHS". Blair said if Major was so confident, he should call an election.
THEMES OF THE DAY
The Northern Ireland devolved assembly (Clive Soley, Lab, Hammersmith)
Immigration (Nicholas Budgen, C, Wolverhampton South West)
The "Conservative fightback" (Paddy Ashdown)
The date of the General Election (Helen Jackson, Lab, Sheffield Hillsborough)
Conservative success (Peter Luff, C, Worcester)
GOOD DAY.. ...BAD DAY
Ben Chapman (Lab, Wirral South) was introduced as an MP when questions were over. Major advised him not to unpack his bags. But perhaps the new boy will be around for longer than the Prime Minister?
Nicholas Budgen praised the Government's strict immigration policy asking Major to condemn Labour's proposed relaxation of the rules. Major simply said he would not support anything that would damage race relations.
THE UNANSWERED QUESTION
Jackson: "Following the very decisive statement by the voters of Wirral last week, will the PM . . . tell us whether or not the General Election will be on May 1st?" Major said that firstly, he wanted to congratulate the new MP for Wirral South, Ben Chapman. He then sat down without making a second point.
THE QUIP OF THE DAY
Ashdown: "When last week the PM instructed his party to start the fightback immediately, did he expect them to take him quite so literally? Lord Tebbit . . . Lord McAlpine . . . and the Health Secretary . . . In deciding how to deal with these delinquents, has the PM ever considered that he might make use of secure accommodation and electronic tagging?" Major was seized by the giggles, and had to look at the Speaker to regain his composure.
THE CREEP OF THE DAY
Luff: "This country has the most successful economy of any ... in Europe. We have a Government determined to protect the interests of the UK in Europe, and... prepared to protect the unity of the UK and its ....influence around the world, and wouldn't all this be put at risk by the policies of the party opposite?"Reuse content