PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS

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Indy Politics
John

Major

The exchange today was a no-contest; the issue of head-teachers' qualifications, and the differences in emphasis between the Education Minister and the Prime Minister is either a slow-burner or a no-burner.

Tony

Blair

Unless Blair has a grand plan for which Major's answer yesterday laid the foundation, he did nothing worthy of many points. But, as last week, he did at least allow more backbenchers the chance to speak.

BLAIR'S ATTACK

Labour has plans for a compulsory `national competence qualification' for head-teachers. Employment Secretary Gillian Shephard indicated earlier yesterday that she was opposed to this, while Major appeared not to

have ruled the idea out. Blair's single question yesterday secured Major's assurance that indeed he had not. At best, this revealed a potential Conservative split. Not a particularly impressive session.

THEMES OF THE DAY

Spending of Liberal Democrat and Labour local authorities (Andrew Rowe, C, Mid Kent ).

Unemployment figures (Greville Janner, Lab, Leicester West)

Taxes on air travel (Dennis MacShane, Lab, Rotherham)

Currency stability (Sir Peter Tapsell, C, Lindsey East)

GOOD DAY.. ...BAD DAY

DENNIS SKINNER

(Lab, Bolsover) was in his element, rising to his feet while Major quoted employment figures. "Fiddled!" he yelled lustily, while chewing gum and being held back by his colleagues.

WILLIAM POWELL

William Powell (C, Corby) took up time asking whether three days could be set aside to debate what he detected as Michael Meacher's instinct to raise taxes.

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Janner: "Has the Prime Minister seen the findings of the employment policy institute, which show that some four million people in this country are seeking work...?" Major simply quoted his own figures ("the reality") in reply.

THE QUIP OF THE DAY

Major: "My Rt Hon Friend the Chancellor has had from the Shadow Chancellor the most remarkable endorsement of his economic policies that any Chancellor has ever recieved. On every single tax decision, on every single spending decision, this year and next year, the Shadow Chancellor agrees that my Rt Hon Friend is infallible."

THE CREEP OF THE DAY

Lawrence: Spent a long time asking Major to "congratulate

a firm called Technic Holdings in my constituency". Many members found comic irony in the fact that the company specialises in re-treads for worn-out tyres.

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