Friday, November 02, 2007

House Points: Defra questions

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News. In my experience you cannot go wrong with fish-related humour.

Fish business

Ben Bradshaw ("The Haddock’s Friend") is no longer Minister for Fish. He has moved on to higher things at the Department of Health. I hoped that questions to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last Thursday would show who has taken his plaice. But MPs insisted on talking about trivia like climate change, foot and mouth disease and floods, so fish never got a mention.

Not all is lost. Thanks to the Scottish Labour MP Tom Clarke we learned of another of Defra’s concerns. He told the House that a company based in his constituency exports sausage skins to many parts of the world. "Europe, Africa and so on," he added brightly.

The company needed certificates of clearance so that it could continue to export skins from their plants in Moodiesburn and Bellshill during the recent foot and mouth outbreak. Clarke said Defra had been enormously helpful and passed on the company’s thanks.

No one pointed out that it would have been even more helpful if the government had not allowed the virus to escape from its Pirbright laboratory in the first place. No doubt they didn’t like to carp.

But what about the sausage skins? The company’s website reveals that most are made of collagen - the same substance that is injected into the lips and buttocks of celebrities who are trying to stay youthful looking and so remain on their perches.

A survey on the same website tells you that 55 per cent of consumers do not know and most have never considered the origin of a sausage skin. Perhaps it is just as well.

Defra questions also saw the Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood asking about building on the flood plain, a big worry in his Cheltenham constituency and other parts of Gloucestershire.

In reply the Secretary of State, Hilary Benn, said around two million British homes already stand on a flood plain. "The building that we are in now is on a flood plain," he said, "but it has a defence."

I disagree. The Palace of Westminster has no defence. And we’ll be back to the fish one day. For Gordon Brown, the whiting’s on the wall.

1 comment:

HE Elsom said...

Did you delegate this column to Whittington?