PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS

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Indy Politics
SCORING THE EXCHANGES

Tony

Blair

7/10

Blair angrily demanded satisfactory replies on specifics, and testily answered back to shouts from the Conservative benches. His performance was good, but marred by his customary `if-Major-cannot-be-trusted-with- a-little-how-can-we-trust-him-with-a-lot?' soundbite.

John

Major

4/10

Major was riled by Blair's questions on war pensions, and was more patronising than usual. His case started to look shaky when he did not deny the examples of alleged penny-pinching that Blair put to him.

THEMES OF THE DAY

The referendum on a single currency (Sir Teddy Taylor, C. Southend E)

War pensions (Alan Beith, Lib Dem. Berwick upon Tweed)

A-Level standards (Sir Rhodes Boyson, C. Brent N)

European Court ruling on borders (Charles Wardle, C. Bexhill and Battle)

BLAIR'S ATTACK

Insults were traded in an acrimonious session, by end of which both leaders looked ready to roll up their sleeves and take the fight outside. Blair claimed that British war pensions would suffer pounds 50m-worth of cuts as a result of the Budget. Major said Blair was `just plain wrong'. Blair challenged Major to deny some specific charges of penny-penching, "instead of all this patronising stuff about how we don't understand". Major responded with a dig at Blair's "piety".

GOOD DAY.. ...BAD DAY

Conservative Eurosceptics - Teddy Taylor and Charles Wardle were able to fit in questions on Europe, and Thomas McAvoy (Lab. Glasgow, Rutherglen) raised the question of the Chancellor's loyalty once again.

Dennis Skinner (Lab Bolsover) On such a vicious day, the `Beast' himself could only offer some rather weak doggerel about a supposed inspection of the Treasury chest, dressed up as a question about the PSBR.

THE QUIP OF THE DAY

Appropriately given the mood of the chamber, Major said he hoped that Skinner had not left a lighted match behind him when he went to inspect the Treasury chest.

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Are public-gallery protests about arms to Indonesia, and subsequent scuffles, going to be a regular feature of Prime Minister's Questions from now on? They have a one hundred per-cent record for the week, but the protesters again found themselves booted out.

THE CREEP OF THE DAY

Sir Rhodes Boyson: "Is my Hon Friend the Prime Minister aware that there are great rejoicings in this country today on the knowledge that the A-level standards will be retained and strengthed? And would he also agree that this is one of many reforms brought in by this government for the benefit of British education?"

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