HC Deb 06 November 1995 vol 265 cc590-1
29. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he is taking to improve the presentation of Government policies. [39713]

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

All Ministers must take responsibility for presentation of their Departments' policies. The relevant Cabinet Committee, which I chair, provides a collective forum to discuss presentation.

Mr. Banks

May I say what an excellent job the Deputy Prime Minister is doing in standing in for the Prime Minister? To be fair, it is perhaps not the most intellectually challenging task that he has had to face. I thank him for his great courtesy when he came over to Newham in his capacity as one of the millennium commissioners. I know that he is considering my borough as a site for the millennium exhibition. I am sure that he will use the judgment of Solomon in coming to the right conclusion and ensuring that Newham is chosen. I am not one of those whingers who complains about the squillions that it has cost to set up his Department. I am sure that the taxpayer gets great value for money, and I wish the right hon. Gentleman a very nice day.

The Deputy Prime Minister

The House will recognise new Labour in a new form. If I may so, it is a great improvement on the old version.

Mr. Nigel Evans

Does my right hon. Friend agree that not only is presentation of policy important, but it is important to have the policies there in the first place? To act as a Government involves more than glitzy public relations, red roses and new suits. We need policies that are in the best interests of the British people, not the glitzy PR exercise that we get from the Labour party.

The Deputy Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The fascinating thing about what is happening throughout the world today is that the entire intellectual debate about how to pursue policies for the next century is conducted from the right of politics.

Mr. Simon Hughes

If the electorate are confused about the Government's attitude on whether the House should be entirely independent, is that the fault of Government policy—which does not say that it is clear, following Nolan, that this place should not be bought—or is it a fault of the presentation of Government policy? Does he agree with his junior Minister, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, that, for the past 150 years, the Government have worked on the assumption that Members of Parliament work part time?

The Deputy Prime Minister

During the whole of the past 150 years, it has depended entirely on whether Members of Parliament were employed as Ministers or as Back Benchers. The fact is that they are two quite different jobs. The House itself is sovereign in these matters, as the hon. Gentleman knows.