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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
This was Ming's day
Prime minister's questions sketch
By Nick Assinder
BBC News political correspondent

Ming Campbell had a good day. It's worth repeating, the Liberal Democrat leader had a good day.

Sir Menzies Campbell
Ming may have hit his stride
Since being elected to replace Charles Kennedy, his question time performances - to the dismay of many of his colleagues - have veered from disastrous to the not-quite-so disastrous.

Today he hit the prime minister fair and square with a classic liberal issue of the sort his predecessor regularly raised - rendition.

His style was no different to previous performances - all ramrod straight and, frankly, sparkle-free. But this time he pulled it off.

With a brace of un-flashy questions he attempted to get some answers from the prime minister over the latest report from the Council of Europe which has claimed the UK has colluded in CIA rendition flights.

The prime minister resorted to the sort of non-answer he has deployed before on this highly-sensitive and potentially damaging issue.

There was nothing new in the latest report so he had absolutely nothing to say about it.

Tax credit

So what about his previous statement that he fully endorsed US rendition, asked Ming.

Tony Blair
Blair's answers failed to satisfy some MPs
Well I didn't say that, I said it had been the US policy for some time including under previous administrations, said the prime minister.

None of this came anywhere close to satisfying Ming and his troops - neither did it do much to reassure some of the prime minister's own backbenchers who are feeling decidedly uncomfortable, even suspicious, about the issue.

As for David Cameron, he focused on the alleged "incompetence" of the man responsible for the tax credit system which has, once again, been criticised by the cross-party treasury committee.

Who is responsible, he asked, before answering his own question with the name Gordon Brown.

The chancellor, for once, was not sitting alongside the prime minister thanks to an important meeting of European finance ministers in Luxembourg which had demanded his attention.

Perfectly reasonable stuff from the Tory leader, but he got nowhere with it other than provoking one of Tony Blair's lists - this one about all the people and families spared the workhouse by the Chancellor's fabulous system.

Sir Menzies Campbell, however, may well have left the chamber believing he has finally hit his stride.



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