HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 cc310-2
Q8. Mr. Kemp

Has my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister authorised any of his officials to make a statement that appeared in today's press to the effect that the future of the Conservative party is in the hands of 38 people from the planet Zog? And if not, why not? [2581]

Madam Speaker

Order. The Prime Minister has no responsibility for that. What a waste of a question to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Yeo

Will the Prime Minister confirm that if any of his Cabinet Ministers are found to have knowingly misled the House of Commons, that Minister will be expected to resign?

The Prime Minister

I have always made it clear that those Ministers who knowingly, deliberately or seriously mislead the House of Commons should not be in the Government. I have always made that clear and I make it clear again today. I hope that the values that this Government have undertaken to work with are somewhat different from those of the previous Government.

Q9. Mr. Stevenson

Is it not a scandal that thousands of our children and young people are being taught in dilapidated buildings? Is it not a fact that that is a direct result of a deliberate policy of chronic neglect by the Conservative party when it was in government? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that under this Government this completely unacceptable situation will be dealt with as a matter of priority? [2582]

The Prime Minister

I can confirm that. Of course it is important that we begin to put right the damage done over a period of years. The plain fact of the matter is that the previous Government were one of the very few Governments anywhere to preside over a situation where the proportion of national income spent on education fell, although the social security and welfare bills rose enormously. It is precisely for that reason that we do not see additional expenditure on education as enough in itself. It must be accompanied by measures that reduce the huge and appalling burden of social and economic failure that is the product of the past 18 years. It is both those things going together that allows us to get as much money as possible into the areas of productive investment and to get us out of social failure. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where from?"] How about by reducing the numbers of young people on the dole? That is where from.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that he spent three years answering questions in opposition—[Laughter.]—asking questions in opposition, slamming the previous Government's record on possible charges in the health service, and that he fought the recent election on the basis that the Conservative Government might introduce such charges, yet today cannot rule out prescription charges for pensioners or hotel charges for everybody else when they enter hospital? Is that not a betrayal?

The Prime Minister

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman waits for the outcome of the review. I can tell him that we shall fight the next election on a platform of renewing and improving the national health service after 18 years of Conservative failure.