by RAY FLEMING
IT was an odds-on bet for the PM's Questions Stakes yesterday that David Cameron would follow the UK's tabloid newspapers in gunning for Home Secretary John Reid's performance and the so-called soft sentences on convicted paedophiles. As things turned out, however, Tony Blair had little difficulty in winning the event by pointing out in impressive detail that most of the current problems in sentencing and early release are the result either of pre-1997 Conservative legislation or delays and watering down of Labour legislation because of Conservative opposition. Mr Cameron persisted but the prime minister had the better of the exchanges. Mr Blair also gave the impression that he is again on top of his game in giving a comprehensive response on nuclear energy policy to a thoughtful question and supplementary from Menzies Campbell, the LibDem leader, and by dismissing the suggestion of a member of the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party that a recent discovery of weapons in Northern Ireland showed that “decommissioning by the IRA has never taken place”. Mr Blair suggested that there are always two sides to matters of this kind.
One of those impressive Parliamentary moments closed proceedings when the Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay asked that the case for a posthumous pardon for more than 1'000 soldiers executed for cowardice in World War I should be rexamined as the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is marked.

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