No regrets and no apologies from Irvine

DIY STORES have joined the lengthening list of the people the Lord Chancellor has upset, after Lord Irvine rubbished their wallpaper and said he had no regrets about choosing hand-printed Pugin for the pounds 650,000 refurbishment of his state apartments in the House of Lords.

Declaring that he had no reason to apologise for the cost of the lavish restorations, the Lord Chancellor said future generations would be "grateful" for the quality of the work done on his grace-and-favour accommodation in the Palace of Westminster.

The Lord Chancellor could not go down to B&Q or Homebase for his wallpaper, he made clear to MPs on the cross-party committee on public administration.

"We are talking about quality materials which are capable of lasting for 60 or 70 years. We are not talking about something down in a DIY store which may collapse after a year or two," he said. "While I understand that pounds 650,000 appears to be a large sum of money I believe it is a noble cause and future generations will be grateful."

MPs were startled at the boldness of a man who, in a few ponderous legal sentences, had transformed himself from a national hate-figure, plundering the public art galleries for his walls, into a self-declared defender of the national heritage.

There was a point during his evidence when the Lord Chancellor appeared to be so impressed by his own replies, that he paused as if expecting applause from the MPs.

Instead, he was relentlessly pursued for two hours by a pack of Tory MPs. He dismissed the row over the refurbishment as a "remarkable storm in a teacup although I entirely accept that pounds 650,000 is a substantial sum of money".

Challenged by Tory MP Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) if he would echo the famous "je ne regrette rien" words of former Conservative Chancellor Norman Lamont.

Lord Irvine replied: "I certainly do not think that any apologies are due.

"On the contrary, I tend to side with those commentators who have said, `three cheers for this being done in Parliament and three cheers for the House committees that decided to do it'."

Living up to his image as one of the most imperious Lord Chancellor's of recent years, Lord Irvine swept aside suggestions that he was looking for a personal spin doctor because he had made such a hash of his own self-publicity since taking office.

The extent of any damage to his authority as Britain's senior law officer will be put to the test today when he unveils a fresh consultation document on proposals for reforming legal aid.

The Lord Chancellor dismissed the row about the cost of his interior decorating as a "storm in a teacup". But it has proved impossible to go ahead with plans for depriving some of the poorest people in the country of legal aid, while at the same time as spending more than half a million pounds on soft furnishings.

He will announce that he is substantially watering down the plans announced four months ago to scrap legal aid for all civil claims. It will be abolished for accident victims, who will be expected to sue with lawyers acting on a no-win, no-fee basis. Legal aid for medical negligence cases will be restricted to lawyers who are specialists in the subject.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

    Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

    £16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

    Day In a Page

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US