I am grateful to you, Madam Speaker, for sorting out the confusion that seems to overwhelm the Conservative party. Does the Leader of the House agree that if anyone other than the Prime Minister wins the current leadership election contest on Tuesday, he will have no democratic legitimacy to govern because he will not have the consent of the people for the policies that he pursues?
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the matchless city of Chester, crime continues to fall and detection rates continue to improve? Is he further aware that in Chester, since 1979, the number of policemen has increased by 38 per cent. and that the only time that police numbers in Chester have fallen was under the last Labour Government? Is he also aware that, this year, Cheshire is to get an additional 195 police officers and special constables for policing on the beat? Does my right hon. Friend share Chester's and Cheshire's commitment to front-line policing?
I warmly congratulate my hon. Friend on making those points and, indeed, Cheshire police on their achievements. I understand that recorded crime in the county fell by some 7 per cent. in 1994 and I know that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary was able to visit the force recently and to congratulate it personally on its policy of front-line policing. Her Majesty's Government are supporting the force with a funding increase of £9 million and are making funds available for closed circuit television in Chester.
Has the Leader of the House any awareness not just of the despair, but of the disgust that most people feel about the spectacle that the Conservative party has become? Is not the real choice that the British people want not one between the warring factions of that party, but one between a Conservative party that is disintegrating and a Labour party that is in touch with the people and ready to serve?
Well, it certainly seems to be in touch with the lot of people in Monklands. [Interruption.] I shall not regret it. The people of Monklands may regret it and I suspect that the right hon. Gentleman may regret the thrust of his question because, if and when he gets the chance, he will have to stop fudging and come clean on his spending and taxing policies, on his minimum wage and creating unemployment policies, and on his European policies, not for an opt-out, but for a sell-out. [Interruption.]
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the constituency of Torridge and Devon, West has the highest proportion of older people in the United Kingdom and that, two weeks ago, Mrs. Cleverdon celebrated her 105th birthday? Would he like to consider the wisdom of the Tories in west Devon, especially their Conservative association, which promotes the Prime Minister's cause and has asked me to vote in his favour, which I shall do?
Could the Leader of the House explain to innocent bystanders such as myself how it is that a party which is proving by the hour that it is incapable of governing itself can have any lingering claim to govern the country?
Does my right hon. Friend agree that this Government's policies of choice and diversity, of testing and reporting to parents, have driven up standards in education? [Interruption.]
I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that the policies of the Government have increased parental choice, raised educational standards and given schools greater freedom, and I equally agree with him that the policies of the Labour party would threaten all those objectives.