NoericforthExtensive tributes were paid to Eric Forth, whose seat behind David Cameron and in between David Maclean and Andrew Mackay was left free to symbolise the great Parliamentarian’s absence. Blair said he was a "redoubtable opponent, caustic at times, fearless and principled always, often
witty… a thoroughly decent man".

DC asked about immigration reform, quoting Blair who had said in 2004 that the immigration department had been transformed. He also lambasted him for blaming past governments – "he’ll be blaming Sir Robert Peel next". The House laughed through Blair’s defence, causing the speaker to reprimand the House twice – even threatening to end the session if members didn’t stop hissing.

Menzies Campbell seemed to a have a frog in his throat a la IDS. Menzies got the usual sarcastic cheer and as usual started on a sombre note by not only paying tribute to Eric Forth, but by starting his question with a reference to the Dunblane shootings.  His second question was snappier, pointing out contradictory statements by Tony Blair and John Reid about whether the Home Office was "fit for purpose" or not.

Cameron asked if Gordon Brown would take on the non-tribal politics displayed in the Education Bill, causing Blair to praise his record. Repeating his line on the reshuffle, Cameron scored points by asking if Gordon was doing such a good job, why didn’t Tony let him take over.

In response to a question from Malcolm Moss about John Prescott’s privileges, Blair said he had no intention whatever of discussing the reshuffle, and in response to Robert Goodwill’s question about the signing of the Hutton report he merely said that "no offence was intended".

His standard style of answering questions was being scorned by members more than ever today.

Deputy Editor

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