Friday, February 15, 2008

House Points: Tales from Westminster Hall

Today's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News. (Thanks to Jonny Wright for the aardvark.)

Cricket, dolphins and road safety

With MPs away for a half-term holiday, it’s time for a round up from Westminster Hall. This secondary debating chamber is the Commons’ answer to the outside courts at Wimbledon.

It is also where our own Greg Mulholland was recently recorded in Hansard as calling a minister "an a*******". The general view is that he called him an aardvark.

Last week’s highlights included a debate on free-to-air sporting events initiated by John Grogan, the Labour MP for Selby. He spoke of the way the authorities had squandered the legacy of England’s 2005 Ashes victory by selling the rights to televise cricket to a satellite broadcaster.

And he quoted the Australian batsman Justin Langer: "After the impact of the Ashes I’m amazed that every kid in England isn’t able to watch cricket ... I have been in this country for four weeks now and I’ve seen maybe half an hour of cricket on TV."

Andrew George held a debate on cetacean mortality -- or dead dolphins. This is an important subject from a conservationist point of view. The figures suggest that the population of dolphins in the Irish Sea has fallen by two thirds since 1993, but that may just because those figures are more accurate these days.

But the debate also mattered to Andrew because he is concerned that fishermen from his Cornish constituency are being unfairly blamed for a decline in dolphin numbers. And he was granted the privilege of a reply from Jonathan Shaw, the new minister of fish.

Finally, in a debate on novice drivers, Gwyenth Dunwoody quoted some striking figures: "In 1998, drivers aged 17-21 accounted for 7 per cent. of the total driving population, but they comprised 13 per cent. of drivers involved in collisions; one in eight driving licence holders is aged under 25, yet one in three drivers who die in a collision is under 25, and almost one in two drivers killed at night is under 25; 27 per cent. of 17-19 year-old males are involved in a road collision as a driver in their first year of driving; 1,077 people died in 2005 in crashes involving a driver aged 17-25."

Cricket, dolphins and road safety: just another week in Westminster Hall. Oh yes, and aardvarks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All quite interesting, and all as English as a Traffic album.

But I don't know why you dragged the poor earth-pig into the Westminster morass - as we were all taught long ago, aardvarks never hurt anyone...

No, I have no shame - why do you ask?