PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS

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Indy Politics
SCORING THE EXCHANGES

John Prescott

Michael

Heseltine

Picks up five points simply for plain speaking and not making speeches. His first question was especially direct. But later questions were so broad-ranging that Heseltine easily swatted them away.

Standing in for the Prime Minister, who was in France, Heseltine started off well, repeating Tory pledge to increase funding for the NHS. Labour benches roared when he included Lord Marsh in a list of (supposedly avaricious) ex-Labour ministers who became businessmen. Marsh became a businessman - and a Conservative .

THEMES OF THE DAY

Former ministers in the boardrooms (Hugh Bayley, Lab. York)

Unemployment statistics (Greville Janner, Lab. Leicester W)

Small businesses (David Lidington, C. Aylesbury)

Combat knives (Alun Michael, Lab. Cardiff S and Penarth

PRESCOTT'S ATTACK

Prescott began by asking why, fifty years ago, the Conservatives voted against the creation of the NHS (a question, Blair should note, which he asked in exactly 25 words). Heseltine avoided an answer. But Prescott's next question allowed Heseltine to ask him to match the Tory NHS spending pledge. Prescott replied that Labour created the NHS, and ended somewhat Blairily, saying that the British people knew only Labour would safeguard it.

GOOD DAY... ...BAD DAY

JOHN GUNNELL

(Lab. Leeds S and Morley): asked Heseltine to condemn the fact that charity funding of the NHS should be necessary. Heseltine replied that he was glad that people gave money to charity, and that the NHS should not be used as a political football.

IAN BRUCE

(C. Dorset S) . A long-winded planted question on the number of French companies moving to Britain from the man who, on Tuesday, condemned Blair for being too wordy and wasting time.

THE QUIP OF THE DAY

Heseltine, on Prescott: "I'm always excited by the Honourable Gentleman. The whole House is excited by the Honourable Gentleman. He is a very exciting person..."

THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

Heseltine asked why Prescott wouldn't match the Conservative pledge to increase NHS year-on-year spending Another question is why Labour keep raising the subject when they so clearly haven't thought of a suitable response?

THE CREEP OF THE DAY

Edward Garnier QC (C. Harborough) commiserated with Heseltine on the invasion of his garden recently by a group of opencast mining protesters.

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