Part of Orders of the Day — Child Support Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 22nd May 1995.

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Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 5:30 pm, 22nd May 1995

The right hon. Gentleman can put it that way if he wants, but we will let the nation judge.

During the last minute or two I have managed to obtain a copy of the press release referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. I will not go into the detail because others will no doubt wish to do so. However, it begins with what is positively the most offensive pun, in terms of taste, that I have seen for a long time. It is an extraordinary production.

However, I am glad to see that of the 20 major and decisive spending commitments that I am accused of making—which apparently will change the whole tide of fiscal history in the United Kingdom—the 20th is the new clause that we are about to discuss. That puts the matter into some sort of perspective. Apparently, the appointment of an advisory body is evidence of the fiscal irresponsibility upon which the right hon. Gentleman founds his case. I need hardly tell him that we will be looking carefully at the list and will want to comment on it in due course. I find it a remarkably unconvincing indictment and it is not one that could be taken to a higher court, never mind the high court of Parliament, by a politician with any sense of perspective.

I suppose that, in a way, I am flattered, but it seems lunatic for the Secretary of State to assume, for example, that because one tables a question seeking information, in which one asks for the costing of a development at varying levels, one is making a spending commitment at the level of the highest variable. That does not do the Secretary of State's credibility much good.