HC Deb 09 February 1998 vol 306 cc15-6
33. Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

If she will reintroduce twice-weekly Prime Minister's questions. [26130]

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Ann Taylor)

No, we have no plans to do so.

Mrs. Bottomley

The whole House will have been enormously sympathetic when it heard through the usual channels today that the Prime Minister is worried that not enough time is being spent explaining and presenting the Government's policies. Does not the right hon. Lady have an opportunity to assist not only the Prime Minister but the House, by suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman should leave the No. 10 bunker and come to the House twice a week where, free from spin doctors, he can present and explain his Government's case and even answer questions from the Opposition since, after all, the Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament?

Mrs. Taylor

Of course the Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament and he spends exactly the same time answering at Prime Minister' s Question Time as his predecessor did.

Mr. Skinner

Does the Leader of the House appreciate that, as one who did not favour the change from two days a week to one for Prime Minister's Question Time, I have done a little research? I have found that, contrary to what the right hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mrs. Bottomley), otherwise known as "Golden Virginia" has just said, my right hon. Friend has answered more questions since he has been Prime Minister. What is more, because he has not been absent from Question Time as the previous two Prime Ministers were, he has been present to answer questions more often than was the case when the Tories were in power.

Mrs. Taylor

My hon. Friend is right to point out that the Prime Minister has not been absent from Question Time. Under the old arrangement, he would have answered questions last week for only 15 minutes because he was in America on Thursday.

Mr. Bercow

As the right hon. Lady talks with glowing pride about the Prime Minister's answers to questions, I feel sure that she will be happy to tell the House the wording of at least one of the Prime Minister's answers since 1 May last year.

Mrs. Taylor

I am indeed full of pride at the answers that the Prime Minister gives. I do not think that the quality of the questions matches those answers.

Forward to