The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
PMQs updated (twice)
by Peter

After last week there has been a little too much attention focussed upon Prime minister's Questions today.

This is how the Guardian reports it:


Sir Menzies Campbell asks simply how many of Sir Michael Bichard's recommendations have been implemented since his report of over 18 months ago. Mr Blair admits he cannot say.

The Lib Dem stand-in leader asks when the relevant police computers will be operational? Again Mr Blair cannot say exactly. A good double blow from Sir Menzies - rival candidate Chris Huhne is sat behind him, nodding furiously.


[Ming's] Lib Dem leadership hopes were probably riding on today's show. And after this outing, the game is back on.

Firstly, he chose a subject which virtually ruled out any of the schoolyard braying, sneering and sniggering that greeted his last, fumbled question over schools who couldn't find permanent heads.

The sex offenders crisis is about as serious a subject as it gets and he delivered a brace of well-targeted questions that went to the heart of the matter. And, as a result, he was heard in near silence.

Secondly he produced two embarrassing "don't know" answers from the prime minister - over how many of the Bichard recommendations following the Soham inquiry had been implemented, and when a police computer checking system for offenders was going to be completed.

Lastly, he managed it without looking like he was going for cheap political point scoring (even though it had the same effect).


And here is the transcript

Sir Menzies Campbell: "Following the tragic murders at Soham, Sir Michael Bichard in a report published over 18 months ago made 31 recommendations. Can the Prime Minister now tell us how many of these have been implemented?"

The Prime Minister: "I can't tell him precisely how many ... err ...have been implemented since Michael Bichard produced his report. But I can say this: that we will ensure there is legislation introduced implementing his report and I would just quote from what Michael himself said the other evening which is that 'The Department of Education and Science has been working hard since the enquiry in producing a single barring scheme and they've kept me in touch with what they're doing and I'm very impressed with the work they've actually done'."

Sir Menzies Campbell: "The Prime Minister will know that one of the key recommendations of the Bichard Inquiry was a police computer system designed to share intelligence about sex offenders. Can he tell us why the Impact computer system is now reported to be three years behind schedule and can he tell us when he expects it to be fully functional?"

The Prime Minister: "Um...I cant give him that reason off ... off the cuff but I will... I will write to him and tell him. I can say to him, however, that since 1997, I think this is an important point that should be made in light of all the recent and perfectly understandable controversy, since 1997 there has been a tightening and not a loosening of the system and it also worth pointing out that people have taken these types of decisions in very difficult cases going back over many many decades and so it is important of course that we introduce both the recommendations that Sir Michael Bichard has put forward and I also think my Right Hon Friend will be talking about further safeguards that we will introduce tomorrow and I very much hope they will command the support of the whole house."

posted by Peter Pigeon @ 5:15 pm  
  • At 18 January, 2006 19:50, Blogger MatGB said…

    Hmm; that's enough for me to consider Ming as second after Huhnne for now, but OTOH, he gets a free platform; Charles should've stayed on as caretaker for a truly fair fight.

    Wonder what the other candidates might manage given a similar platform.

    Bichard is too important for partizanship; shame, Blair et al are making it one. Sorry, pet hate, work related.

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