Major answered Blair's call for an election by saying that the Government had important Bills to see through before an election was held. This is much more satisfactory response than the more traditional one, that he will call the election in his own good time.
Blair asked only one question, whether Major would now call the election, and declined the second and third which he is allowed by tradition. Not particularly sparkling, but he made his point.
THEMES OF THE DAY
Grant-maintained schools, Harry Greenway (C, Ealing North)
Taxes under Labour, Sir Fergus Montgomery (C, Altrincham and Sale)
VAT on the Severn Bridge toll, Paul Marland (C, West Gloucestershire)
Mixed-sex wards, Terry Rooney (Lab, Bradford North)
School league tables, Patrick Nicholls (C, Teignbridge)
Blair's sacrifice of his second and third questions made the point that the removal of "the fag-end of a burnt-out government" was all that mattered to the country. The point is debatable, but at least the time that Blair could have taken went to other questioners - not necessarily a bad thing.
GOOD DAY... ...BAD DAY
Paul Marland asked Major to confirm that the Government never intended to levy VAT on Severn Bridge tolls; and that the idea could in fact be traced to Neil Kinnock, the European Commissioner for Transport. At last the Conservatives have a VAT accusation to throw back at Labour.
Patrick Nicholls drew Blair's wife Cherie Booth into the pre-election- campaign campaign with a question on school league tables. A precedent could thus have been set, and Major appeared embarrassed, replying: "I think the important element is the policy of the party opposite".
THE QUIP OF THE DAY
Sir Roger Moate (C, Faversham) had a dig at Blair and Harriet Harman: "Does my Rt Hon Friend recall the remark by the Labour education spokesman, `I'm having no truck with left-wing middle-class parents who preach one thing and send their children to schools in other areas'?".
THE UNANSWERED QUESTION
Andrew Miller (Lab, Ellesmere Port and Neston) reminded Major that on 28 January 1992, he pledged not to increase VAT. "Will he now apologise," bellowed Mr Miller, "to the millions of pensioners who have to pay VAT which he imposed. . . ?", Major had other things on his mind: "the Hon Gentleman might bear in mind his windfall tax. . ."
THE CREEP OF THE DAY
Montgomery asked Major to confirm that he would not "spend pounds 30bn more on public expenditure while at the same time saying that there will be no increase in taxation".Reuse content