Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23 January 1996.

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Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party 12:00, 23 January 1996

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 23 January. [8822]

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave some moments ago.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

Is the Prime Minister aware that Robert Burns might be birling in his grave in this, his bicentennial year, at the prospect of the Scottish Secretary laying a wreath at his memorial in London? Excise duties, in which the poet might have had a vested interest, have been increased, but can the Prime Minister point to a policy of his Administration that reflects the qualities of compassion, equality, Scottish patriotism and human understanding that flow through the works of Robert Burns? Is there a policy that reflects any of those virtues?

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I strongly suspect that, if the great poet were here today, he certainly would not support the policies of the hon. Gentleman. He certainly would not support policies of extra taxation that will drive more Scottish opportunities out of Scotland and more Scots out of Scotland, and he certainly would not propose the isolationism that underpins the hon. Gentleman's policies.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Does the hon. Gentleman wish to raise a point of order?

Photo of Mr Timothy Devlin Mr Timothy Devlin , Stockton South

I am sorry, Madam Speaker. Perhaps you could not hear me in the hurly-burly, but I was seeking to raise a point of order. It relates to the method by which people whose names are not recorded in Hansard might indicate whether they were abstaining. I understand that, in a Division last night, the Leader of the Opposition did not vote. I should like to know whether that was an abstention or whether he just failed to appear.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would ask the Leader of the Opposition—that is not a matter for the Speaker.