Parliamentary Question of the week…

Just been sent this Parliamentary Question from Westminister (though we’ll take them from anywhere)…  It’s not so much the question as the answer here…

Euro 2012

Mr Douglas Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any member of the Government is due to attend any matches that England will play following their qualification in the group stages of the European football championships.

Mr Hague: The Government regrets that this question is no longer relevant.

Your own nominations #gratefullyreceived…

  • Dennis Skinner: How many civil servants are a) men and b) women?

    Tim Renton: All of them

  • Rory Carr

    I order for Tim Renton’s reply to be strictly accurate Dennis Skinner’s question should have been (as indeed it should have):

    How many civil servants are a) men or b) women?

    As it stands it would appear that the Civil Service is staffed entirely by hermaphrodites.

  • Rory Carr

    Typo: “I order…” should read “In order…”


  • Dec

    Gregory Campbells contributions to the mother of parliaments is a veritable treasure trove of bitterness, pedantry and a worldview that would embarrass a medieval serf. here’s one andd as above, it’s the answer:

    Jim McGovern (Dundee West) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman says that he has no wish for his contribution to be viewed as republicanism. What are his views on republicanism?

    Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar ) (SNP): I think it works quite well in America, Ireland and France—

    8.30 pm
    Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP): It does not work well in Ireland.

    Mr MacNeil: I should have known that someone from the economic powerhouse that is Northern Ireland was sitting behind me—I say that with irony.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah glory be to Freud!!

    One day your superego will catch up with your Id Rory! 😉

  • Rory Carr

    And here was I thinking that my post was more inspired by Fowler but, you’re right, that damn’d Freud has his fingers in every pie. See what I mean ?

  • Mister_Joe

    Lord Jay submitted a written question to the House on 9 May concerning the Government’s plans “for the future of the stuffed anaconda in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office library”.

    The Minister for the State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Howell of Guildford, replied: “Albert, the 20ft-long stuffed anaconda, has graced the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) library for more than a century.
    “He remains proudly in place, just as he did throughout the noble Lord’s distinguished career in the FCO, and continues to be held in great affection by FCO staff. We have no plans for Albert other than to clean and stuff him from time to time.”

  • Rory Carr

    I am not so sure, Mister Joe, that Jay was necessarily referring to Albert when he raised his question.

  • “though we’ll take them from anywhere”

    Excellent. Here’s a wonderful reply from a member of our own ‘endangered species’: Alex Attwood. In summary, the Minister acknowledges a global problem – but his department’s actions fall a long way short of a necessary local solution.

  • mollymooly

    Mr Hague’s answer is incorrect. The question is still relevant whether it relates to the past or the future. Dunno whether Douglas Alexander would regard ministers’ attendance as a waste of taxpayers’ money, or regard their non-attendance as shameful lack of patriotism.

    One might attempt to argue that, since the question is phrased in the future tense, it cannot be answered; but the question was, presumably, submitted before the tournament started. How many more important awkward questions could be left unanswered by simply waiting for the future to become the past?

  • This thread concerns MPs giving voice before brain is engaged. Fair enough.

    And then there’s this, from the latest issue of Private Eye [no:1317, page 8]:

    One MP seemed particularly well briefed during the second-reading debate of the defamation bill. Almost alone in challenging the cross-party consensus for liberalising England’s libel laws, Ian Paisley Jnr made no fewer than 10 interventions.
    When justice secretary Ken Clarke illustrated the menace of libel tourism by referring to the action brought by whiffy Saudi billionaire Khalid Bin Mahfouz against US academic Rachel Ehrenfield (see Eyes passim), Paisley said: “The Saudi gentleman does not exist … let us consider the cases that do exist.” John Whittingdale MP, whose select committee described libel tourism as a “national humiliation”, pointed out that the Saudi gentleman did indeed exist and that “the Rachel Ehrenfield case was heard in this country where there was no connection other than the 23 copies of her book that were sold.”
    Despite making an ass of himself, Paisley was not to be silenced. Later in the debate he told MPs that he’d spoken to “an eminent lawyer in Belfast … Paul Tweed is the author of a seminal book called Privacy and Libel Law and practises in three jurisdictions.” Besides plugging Tweed’s latest book he cited Tweed’s warning that the new bill’s “serious harm test” would raise the bar for libel so high that “anything short of being called an axe-murderer probably falls short”.
    Later he returned yet again to Tweed, “a media lawyer of more than 30 years standing”, who had informed him that “it is now becoming almost impossible for a claimant without substantial financial means to contemplate a libel action”. In case hon members had forgotten, he reminded them that Tweed is “practising in three jurisdictions in London, Belfast and Dublin”. Roll up, roll up!
    There’s one detail the MP forgot to mention: Paul Tweed is, er, Paisley’s lawyer, winning libel damages against the Daily Mail in 2009 and now pursuing his claim for damages against News International for phone hacking.

    For the record, Ian Paisley Jnr has voted in just 36.6% of divisions in this Parliament, but speaks frequently.

  • Mister_Joe

    Apropos of nothing or no one in particular:,8599,1840392,00.html

  • Thank you, Mister_Joe @ 9:06 pm. Don’t call us: we’ll call you.

    The true propagator of that might well be former-Governor of Texas, Ann Richards:

    … she criticized the George H.W. Bush administration for using warships to protect oil tankers in the Middle East, which she considered a hidden subsidy for foreign oil. “You can put lipstick on a hog and call it Monique, but it is still a pig,” she said. Richards returned to the theme in her failed 1994 gubernatorial race against the younger Bush, using the “call it Monique” line to disparage her opponent’s negative ads.

    This Slate piece, by Ben Zimmer, traced the origin of the expression back past the invention of lipstick (apparently 1880) to much earlier.

    What Zimmer doesn’t make clear is that originally “lipstick” referred to “blacking up” stage make-up for a minstrel show. As a female cosmetic, it’s early 20th century: the OED finds a US use only in 1919, and a UK one in Arnold Bennett in 1922. Once again it has curious origins: blacking-up used by female roles in orthochromatic stock for silent movies.