Friday, December 18, 2009

House Points: 2009 Awards

When your postman finally makes it through the snow, you will find that this week's House Points contains this column from me.

Annual awards

I have just returned from this year’s House Points Awards. It was a great night for The Taxpayers’ Alliance, which walked off with two prizes.

It won Most Pompous Quotation in a Press Release following a rescue by Gloucestershire’s fire service. “Whilst no one likes to see a duck suffering,” said the release, “animal rescue is not the central job of the fire service. In this case there were no emergency calls pending, but calls can crop up at the last minute which could be much more pressing than the rescue of a duck.”

The Alliance also won Most Amusing Pressure Group of the Year. News that one of its directors lives in a Loire farmhouse and has not paid British tax for years had the audience falling about.

Court Injunction of the Year was won by Mr Justice Eady. I’d like to tell you more about it, but it would be against the injunction.

Commons Written Question of the Year went to Tim Farron for his concern at “the introduction of the 500kg cod lottery draw”. It’s easy to laugh, but this is a serious matter. Just ask the inshore fishing industry.

Besides, once cod take up gambling there’s no knowing where it will end. Today a lottery: tomorrow a poker school.

The final award – Most Bizarre Anecdote in Hansard – was won by Liz Barker:

Many, many years ago ... a very good friend of mine, Mr Roger Hayes, left school and went to work as a horticultural trainee for a London council.

One afternoon in the summer he was working away, doing his job in the potting shed, when there was an almighty bang outside the window. He looked out to see flames shooting 30 feet into the air.

He dialled 999 and asked for the fire brigade. It was all going very well until the lady from the emergency services asked him what exactly was on fire. He had to confess that some months earlier, the circus had come to town and had gifted to the local authority three tonnes of exotic animal dung.

Roger Hayes is a former Liberal candidate for Kingston and this story of his is well known in Liberator circles. We never thought it would be heard in the Lords.

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