Below is the text of Prime Minister's Question Time from 15th October 1996.
Q1. Mr. Ronnie Campbell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 15 October.
The Prime Minister (Mr. John Major): This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.
Mr. Campbell: As a fellow working class warrior-
The Prime Minister: I believe in choice. I do not seek to deny choice to other people.
Q2. Mr. Congdon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 15 October.
The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave some moments ago.
Mr. Congdon: Which party controls the council with the worst GCSE results in England? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that he will take tough measures to tackle failing schools, rather than spouting about the family from thousands of miles away?
The Prime Minister: I am not sure which authority it is, but I know that the authorities with the poorest records are all run by the Labour party. That is undoubtedly true. As my hon. Friend intimated, we have now taken powers to deal with failing schools, and, when necessary, we shall use those powers.
Mr. Blair: Does the Prime Minister agree that the spate of reports of crisis in the national health service, culminating in a hospital refusing even emergency referrals of elderly patients because of a shortage of beds, are a disgrace? Will he accept the judgment of the head of the British Medical Association that that crisis is directly due to the Conservative Government's internal market reforms, which have undermined the health service?
The Prime Minister: No, I do not accept that for a second-
Mr. Blair: What I am putting to the Prime Minister is precisely the view of the doctors and nurses who work in the national health service. Perhaps he will confirm that, since he became Prime Minister, there have been 20,000 more senior managers and 50,000 fewer nurses. Since he became Prime Minister, in London alone there have been 2,500 fewer acute beds, and half the casualty departments in London have closed. When even doctors and nurses with a lifetime's experience in the health service say that that is due to the Government's internal market reforms, can the Prime Minister not see the fundamental damage that those reforms are doing to the very principles of the national health service?
The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. If he wishes to test whether the reforms are working, I offer him the one that was suggested by the right hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) when he was shadow Health Secretary: he said that the acid test was whether more patients were being treated. More patients are being treated; patient waiting lists have fallen; 1.5 million more patients are being treated than before the reforms; health expenditure has risen and been provided for by the Government; there are more doctors and more dentists; and waiting times have decreased dramatically. That is a health service providing a wider and better service. I very much regret that the right hon. Gentleman cherry-
Mr. Blair: I notice that the right hon. Gentleman did not dispute a single word I said. Furthermore, I do not know how he dare mention dentistry in the national health service after what his Government have done to it. He asked me to talk to those who work in the NHS. Does he recall what the chair of the consultants committee of the BMA said, just in the past few days? He said:
"I fear the hospital service will be close to collapse this winter."
Do not people know from their experience that waiting lists are getting longer, people are still lying for hours on end on trolleys in casualty departments, acute beds are scarcer and staff and nurse morale is lower? The right hon. Gentleman simply washes his hands of it. If that is the experience-
The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman knows that most of what he has just said about the health service is completely misleading and, in many parts, totally inaccurate. Waiting lists are falling. Since 1979, the health service has had the largest sustained building programme of any stage in its history. There are more doctors-
Q3. Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 15 October.
The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago.
Mr. Banks: Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the tremendous news announced today by Vauxhall at its plant in Ellesmere Port in north-
The Prime Minister: Today's announcement is certainly more good news on top of a range of inward investment in different parts of the country that has brought a great deal of hope and employment to many parts of the United Kingdom. If we continue to pursue the same policies in future, I believe that we shall continue to attract very large-
Mr. Ashdown: May I ask the Prime Minister a simple question of general principle? Is it right for a Government to seek to interfere in or manipulate the outcome of a Select Committee of Parliament?
The Prime Minister: As you, Madam Speaker, said yesterday, allegations ought not to be bandied across the House. If the right hon. Gentleman has a complaint, he should put it to the appropriate Committee, and he will see that there is no one in this House more concerned than I am that it should be properly examined.
Rev. Ian Paisley: Would the Prime Minister care to confirm to the House a statement that he made in a letter to me on 1 October? The letter stated:
"The Coronation Oath is indeed regarded as a solemn undertaking by the Sovereign which is binding throughout Her reign. Ministers would not advise Her Majesty to sign into law any provision which contradicted Her Oath."
The Prime Minister: I can certainly confirm that that is my view of the Coronation oath.
Q5. Mr. McAllion: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 15 October.
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave some moments ago.
Mr. McAllion: On the day the FTSE index of the top 100 UK companies soared to record new levels, will the Prime Minister spare a thought for the 12,000 Scottish teenagers and under-
The Prime Minister: I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman thinks that an extra level of taxation in Scotland would help those people-
Mr. Alexander: Has my right hon. Friend seen recent examples of the way in which female victims are sometimes treated in court, particularly where sexual offences are alleged? Did he read of the cases in which one young lady was cross-
The Prime Minister: I think that there will be a great deal of sympathy for what my hon. Friend said. Certainly, the case in which the lady was cross-
Q6. Mr. Brian David Jenkins: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 15 October.
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave some moments ago.
Mr. Jenkins: Does the Prime Minister agree that the price review announced today by the Director General of Water Services shows that the Labour party was right all along and that consumers have been ripped off for years under weak regulation, weak government and weak leadership?
The Prime Minister: The simple answer to the hon. Gentleman's question is no. It shows the Labour party to have been wrong all along. If the industries had remained in public ownership, we would not have had any regulator looking at price reductions, we would not have had a better service, and we would not have had the extra investment. We would still have had the massive amount of taxpayer subsidy to inefficient industries.
Sir Donald Thompson: Will my right hon. Friend disregard the London-
The Prime Minister: I believe that my hon. Friend speaks not only for himself and for his constituents but for the many millions of people who use the NHS each year and who know from their own experiences how well they have been treated in it.
Q7. Mr. Martlew: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 15 October.
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave some moments ago.
Mr. Martlew: Does the Prime Minister agree that, if we are to have a high-
The Prime Minister: We have put a great deal of public money into a number of rail lines-