21 Nov 03: MichaelHoward: The Government may care about vulnerable ministers, but the people care about vulnerable children.
3 Dec 03: Anne Macintosh: What is more important for the Prime Minister: spending time in Nigeria with Commonwealth leaders or coming home to have his photo taken with Jonny Wilkinson?
10 Dec 03: CharlesKennedy: Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister says he wants a serious conversation across the country, but he clearly doesn't want a serious conversation across the floor of this house.
13 May 04: TonyBlair: I have to say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman [MichaelHoward] that I somehow find it worse when he is being reasonable than when he is being his normal self
19 May 04: JohnPrescott?: I think that the hon. Gentleman [Nigel Evans] looks more like a kipper than an oyster.
23 Nov 04: John Bercow: I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that the truest description of this Home Secretary is that never has there been a Home Secretary who has wielded so much power, has made so little effective use of it and has been in such an indecent haste to blow his own trumpet.
28 Feb 05: Simon Hughes: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, from the time of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and that of the imprisonment of people in Belmarsh, the Government have issued no invitation to take part in two or three-party proceedings to discuss what should happen if, ultimately, the courts ruled, as many of us argued, that their proposals were illegal? Mr. Grieve: I agree with the hon. Gentleman—what he says is the absolute truth. I believed at the time that the lack of consultation was due to the bizarre and individual attitudes of the previous Home Secretary.
15 Feb 06: TonyBlair: I am sorry but, as ever with the right hon. Gentleman [WilliamHague?], the jokes are good but the judgment less so.
15 Feb 06: WilliamHague?: I know it is a long time since I have asked the Prime Minister questions, but it seems even longer since we had an answer. Can he not now experience a deathbed conversion to democracy, as the Chancellor asked me to call it <snip>?
John Prescott: How much am I spending on pest control? I'm doing my best to keep the Opposition down.
MichaelHoward: Let me just remind the Prime Minister that it's my duty to ask questions on behalf of the country and it's his duty to answer questions on behalf of the Government. And if he wants to change places with me, I'm happy to...
Michael Howard: It really doesn't bode well for the BigConversation if in this quite small conversation the Prime Minister isn't prepared to answer the questions.
Lorna Fitzsimons (on the NUS): ...that august body...
TonyBlair: On the rare occasions when Conservative party members say sensible things we listen.
MichaelHoward: Is the Prime Minister aware that his government is spending taxpayers' money advertising his government's student finance policy, including top-up fees, even though they haven't been approved by Parliament?
... Isn't this a flagrant breach of the government's own rules?
... Is the Prime Minister so indifferent to the abuse of taxpayers' money in contravention of his own government's rules that he's not prepared to answer this question?
MichaelMartin: Mr Heath, I understand the Prime Minister's answering the question - Order! - <pause> in his own way.
Alex Salmond: ...the Prime Minister's Big Con <pause> versation...
Jeremy Paxman: You keep saying that the top countries send 50% of their young people to university. Which ones? TonyBlair: Scotland, for example.
Have we in England been mislead about the extent of devolution?!
TonyBlair: Sometimes you please very few of the people any of the time.
Is the PM saying that we don't live in a democracy?
Peter Hain: Of course, there are around 36 Tuesdays in a calendar year.
Oliver Heald: The Leader of the House has gone one better — he is now ignoring his own opinions, as set out in the Fabian Society speech that he made only last Saturday.
David Davies: In the past few weeks, we have witnessed the astonishing spectacle of the Prime Minister inventing policy at the Dispatch Box, being contradicted by his official spokesman within hours, being put in his place by the Home Secretary and being blatantly ignored by the Minister for Europe.
MichaelMartin: Order. Miss Widdecombe, when you ask a question it is polite to wait for the answer — even if you consider it not to be an answer. She later raised a point of order: Ann Widdecombe: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am aware that you are not responsible for the contents of ministerial answers, or for the contents of any answer that the Prime Minister gives this House, but you do preside over a House whose duty is to hold the Executive to account. When a Member of this House asks the Prime Minister a straight question, and the answer is about as related to that question as to the habitats of African elephants, how are we supposed to hold the Executive to account?
Dennis Skinner: 'As the Prime Minister seen the film Ground'og day? Because in that film they keep on repeating the same events. If we have this second enquiry - or is it the fourth? - I believe some of those in the other party and the media will want another, and another!
MichaelHoward: Isn't there a pattern here - a gimmick dreamt up, a headline grabbed, an innovation dropped, and the Prime Minister's reverse gear in full order?
Lembit Opik: Gavin Davies and Greg Dyke resigned from the BBC because they defended in good faith bad intelligence obtained by their subordinates. Could the Prime Minister tell us whether the same principle applies to his government?
Peter Luff: What are the Government planning to do to help the Plain English Campaign celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year? What will the Deputy Prime Minister do personally to help it wage its war on gobbledegook? John Prescott: The honourable gentleman, from time to time, may get his grammar right, but his thinking on politics and his common sense are often missing. And to that we can add the sketch writers as well. But I will not be addressing the conference.
Michael Ancram: Like the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister has not answered the question. The only difference is that the Prime Minister doesn't answer because he won't, while the Deputy Prime Minister doesn't answer because he can't.
TonyBlair: My correspondence with him on that topic is about as intense as any I have had since I was a very young man.
Gerry Steinburg: Does my right honorable friend agree with me that if the policies of the Government at the time had been similar to the policies of the present Opposition, neither the Leader of the Opposition nor I would be in the House today?
Hansard has regrettably omitted the "What?"s uttered by many members in reponse.
And again in PMQ (snipped from the middle - [full context]): MichaelHoward: The Prime Minister was not prepared to tell us what he had in mind, so let me see whether I can help him. When did the Cabinet reverse its policy and decide to hold a referendum on the European constitution? TonyBlair: We announced our policy on the referendum yesterday. <waffles OT> MichaelHoward: The whole country will have seen that once again the Prime Minister has failed to answer a simple, direct question. I am in a helpful mood this afternoon, so I will help him again. We know that the Cabinet was not consulted because the Foreign Secretary told us so last night. From the grandeur of the Foreign Office, he made this authoritative statement: "This is a reflection really of, of where we are in terms of, not of spin as some people suggest, but in terms of how we have to live in a much more open society, open culture, and twenty four hour news. Would that it would have been possible to have delayed the announcement until Thursday so it could have been formally discussed in Cabinet but as it turned out it simply wasn't possible". That is what the Prime Minister means by Cabinet government: he performs a huge policy U-turn; he leaks it to the newspapers, and then he tells the Cabinet that there is no time left for them to make a decision.
PeterHain?: On the question of a referendum, the hon. Gentleman invites me to accept the proposition that the Liberal Democrats are totally consistent. As all my right hon. and hon. Friends will confirm, the Liberal Democrats will say one thing to one part of Britain and another thing to another part, to gain opportunistic advantage, so the idea of being consistent is a novel proposition from any Liberal Democrat which I regret to say I am not prepared to accept.
Shona McIsaac?: What recent progress has been made in relation to a ban on hunting with dogs? Alun Michael: A clear commitment has been given to the House that the issue of hunting with dogs will be dealt with during the life of this Parliament. Shona McIsaac? : As this democratically elected House has expressed its will on the matter on a number of occasions, does my right hon. Friend agree that we can conclude the matter swiftly and that we could deal with all stages of a reintroduced Bill in one sitting day? Alun Michael: I agree with my hon. Friend that the views of the House have been made clear. She knows as well as I do how announcements are made about how the future business of the House will be dealt with. I hear what she says. The commitment to which I referred was made at the time of the Queen's Speech and reinforced as recently as 7 January. I hope that that gives her sufficient confidence about the way in which we will deal with the issue. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: In view of what the Minister has just said, could he predict when this Parliament might end?
Eric Forth: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You may not be aware that during the Division, Whips from both sides of the House were seeking to organise, instruct and guide Members on how to vote. As I thought that we had already established that this was strictly a House of Commons matter, is there anything you can do, Mr. Speaker, to protect innocent MPs from being badgered by Government and Opposition Whips on a House of Commons matter? Surely, something must be done to protect the House and its Members from such gratuitous intervention. DeputySpeaker?: Let me reply to the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Eric Forth). The right hon. Gentleman is right: it is a House of Commons matter, but Whips like to tell people what to do - that is the nature of the beast. I can assure him that they were acting in a private capacity. <snip irrelevant exchange> Sir Menzies Campbell: Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. If Whips were acting in a personal capacity, should that not result in a deduction of one day's salary in respect of all those who receive public funds? Assorted: Hear, hear. DeputySpeaker?: Order. When I was in engineering, there was a practice called quartering workers - but that was not a day's salary. Mrs. Browning: Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was acting as a Whip in a personal capacity, so does that mean I will get paid? DeputySpeaker?: That is not a matter for the Chair.
Eric Martlew: There are two schools of thought about the right hon. Gentleman [Eric Forth]: one is that he is a great parliamentarian and the other is that he is a pain in the neck. I have never changed my opinion about him.
TonyBlair: The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is this. It is not that, in a democracy, bad things do not happen. It is that, when they do happen, action is taken.
(PeterTaylor) Nothing to do with the process by which decisions are taken then? Although I must say that it's hardly news that TB doesn't understand the nature of democracy.
Colin Pickthall : Over the last 50 years it has become a tradition for roads Ministers — and, indeed, shadow roads Ministers — to appear in Ormskirk town centre to say that the congestion is terrible and that the town needs a bypass. Yet we still do not have it. I would hate the current roads Ministers to break that tradition, but I hope that they will turn up to cut the first turf of that much-needed bypass.
Peter Luff: What assessment he has made of the reliability of information provided to passengers (a) on stations and (b) on trains about services and alterations to them. Kim Howells: The latest national passenger survey shows that 13 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with the provision of information about train times and platforms at stations and 23 per cent dissatisfied with the provision of information during the journey. Peter Luff: I thank the Minister for that genuinely helpful reply. I have decided that, should the charms of this place ever be subdued in my breast, I will find another way to serve my constituents — to stand on the platforms at Droitwich Spa, Worcester Shrub Hill or Worcester Foregate Street stations and advise them what the trains are actually doing. I remind the Minister of scenes of chaos at Worcester Shrub Hill on Monday when trains were transformed while standing at platforms or eventually, of course, cancelled. When the Minister is talking to train operating companies, will he ask them to review all their procedures in relation to information? When he is talking to the Strategic Rail Authority, will he ask them to give a high priority to information systems within the funding available to them? Kim Howells: I can certainly do that. The hon. Gentleman will have to put on a bit more weight if he is going to become the Fat Controller of Worcestershire, but I have no doubt he could do the job if he was asked.
Peter Bradley: Having read the papers all week, I am relieved to see that the Prime Minister is still here.
MichaelHoward: I intend, if elected, to serve a full term of office — does he? TonyBlair: I have to say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that since I have been Prime Minister, it is not Prime Ministers who have gone but Leaders of the Opposition.
GeorgeWBush?: Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
He didn't really make such a gaffe, did he? Ye gods, I wonder how much the opposition bribed his speech writers. --Vitenka
See [Google News]. And what do you mean, "bribed his speech writers"? This is Dubya we're talking about.
Well yeah - he Isn't a Prince Philip doing it on purpose, someone is doing it for him. --Vitenka
Read the articles. It seems he wasn't reading from a piece of paper.
Seems to me he's more of a Dan Quayle than a Prince Philip. --Requiem
MichaelHoward: [The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry] spent last year lecturing people about the need to save energy. As she says, why pay more than we need to? Yet two nights ago, her Department was lit up like a Christmas tree. When asked why, her spokesman helpfully explained by saying that the lights were either on or off. He is clearly going to go far in this Government.
CharlesKennedy: We will make the case, vigorously and on several fronts, against the introduction of identity cards. First, there is the question of cost. If asked, the public would say that they would prefer the £3 billion that has been allocated to be given to the priority of ensuring more visible policing on the streets of their communities. Secondly, as we heard during last week's exchanges in Prime Minister's questions, terrible complexities have recently been experienced in the computerisation of the Child Support Agency. For that, in days gone by, read the Department of Health and the Inland Revenue—and so it goes on. The public have little confidence—and we do not share the Government's confidence—that a computerisation of the complexity that would be required for a national ID system could, if it bears any relation to the haphazard and hellish track record on these matters, in any sense be relied on. Thirdly, of course, we must remember that identity cards did not prevent depraved individuals from carrying out terrorist assaults in Madrid and New York. We should not, therefore, allow the argument to develop that ID cards would be a fundamental failsafe against such an attack, particularly a suicide attack. A further issue is that, even according to the Home Secretary's own interpretation, these proposals would not kick in during this Session of Parliament, even if it were to run for its entire five-year length. Those are the practical and principled objections that we shall make to the introduction of identity cards on a voluntary, then a compulsory, basis. We shall work not only with our own party colleagues but, I hope, with colleagues in other political parties in this House and the House of Lords, and I still hope that we shall be able to thwart the proposed legislation.
CharlesKennedy: It is refreshing to get into a philosophical debate with the Prime Minister — they should let him out more often.
Douglas Hogg: Will the Home Secretary help me on one point? Clause 1(6)(c) provides that the individual is apparently required, if he has died, to state the date of his death. CharlesClarke?: Under the Government's proposals, people will be able to live on after the point of death and do just that in every respect.
Is that a "Yes"?
MichaelHoward: The Government leaflet only adds to the confusion. It introduces a wholly a new phrase, "very excessive and gratuitous force", to make the muddle even worse. Let me read him another extract: "A rugby tackle or a single blow would probably be reasonable". That sounds like guidance for the Whips Office.
Ian Davidson: Is the Prime Minister aware that we may be approaching a general election? [Interruption.] I say that because I read it in the papers. Is he further aware that many voters are wondering whether to vote Labour next time? Does he agree that voters should reward all of us on the Labour Benches for all the good work that we have done by retaining a Labour Government, and then turn and punish the Government for any mistakes, errors or misjudgments they have made by voting no in the European referendum?
Does it sound to anyone else that he's saying "People should vote Labour to reward us for winning an election 4 years ago"?
I have to say that's not how I parsed the "by retaining a Labour Government" phrase, and your interpretation didn't occur to me until you pointed it out. --AC
(PeterTaylor) Aah! That's the means of reward rather than the good work. Thanks, Alex.
It took me reading it out loud to interpret it in any other way than 'Vote for us because you voted for us last time!'. --Requiem
Older quote - must be from Jan 2004: CharlesClarke?: Mr Deputy Speaker, can I thank the Liberal Democrat speaker on his Christmas card this year? It conveyed as much information on Lib Dem policy as the speech we've just heard.
RobinCook?: I have never come across an amendment tabled by a Back Bencher about which a Minister could not find a reason to argue that it was defective. Indeed, one of my regrets from my period as Foreign Secretary was that we had few pieces of legislation and I did not have adequate opportunity to tell Back Benchers that their amendments were defective.
A couple of old ones - probably late 2003 / early 2004 PeterHain?: I'll be meeting with myself.
TonyBlair: I don't want to comment on Devon County Council. I'm not as aware of who's employed there as, er, the Quakers.
15 Feb 2006: WilliamHague?: It is the opinion of all decent lawyers — the Prime Minister should ask one; he probably has one at home — that the Lords amendment that we support covers more than written statements.
Ditto: When the Deputy Prime Minister [JohnPrescott?] said of local government last week, "if you want to have a unitary then you can have a ballot, discuss it with the people, but if you want it, fine", what exactly did he mean? Those who like this page may also appreciate the Parliamentary Insults (between 4 and 200 years old) at [eccentrica]. Features the classic "part of his speech was rather like being savaged by a dead sheep". --AlexChurchill