People and Business

One thing intrigued me about this week's two-day Monetary Policy Committee meeting at the Bank of England. What did the eight members do on Wednesday evening, half way through the talks?Were they bussed to a hotel, like a trial jury, in order to guard against details leaking out? Were they simply told not to blurt anything out on the train home? Or did they all stay in the office? Did Eddie George hold a pyjama party at Threadneedle Street... My fevered imaginings were swiftly doused yesterday by a spokeswoman from the Bank, who assured me the MPCmembers went home as usual. "Routine confidentiality arrangements apply to all employees of the Bank. The Committee members do go into a period of purdah (from journalists) for a week before the meeting and a day afterwards. But they are already used to dealing with all sorts of sensitive information," said the spokeswoman. In fact, a two-day meeting might even aid decision-making, since the members do most of the discussing on Wednesday and then have a chance to sleep on their decision.

Congratulations in advance to Ian Byatt, the water regulator, on his impending nuptials next week to Dr Dierdre Kelly, a specialist in liver diseases at Birmingham Children's Hospital. The wedding will take place in a registry office, followed by ables sing in Birmingham Cathedral, and then a honeymoon in Dr Kelly's native Ireland. As I'm sure you know, Mr Byatt was previously married to ASByatt, the famous author, who herself is now married to Peter Duffy, a fund manager who was formerly an editor of the Daily Telegraph's Questor column. Good luck to James Bethell, former author of this very diary column, who is helping to launch Ministry Magazine today in his capacity as head of media at the Ministry of Sound nightclub in South-east London. The warehouse-turned-rave-venue, owned byJami e Palumbo and located in the otherwise unappealing Elephant &Castle, is launching its own "lifestyle" magazine for clubbers. The joint venture with Dennis Publishing will kick off with a 120,000 print run. James claims they have received 5,000 subscriptions even before hitting the streets. "The first issue covers everything from herbal ecstasy to the booming bisexuality scene, " he enthuses. He's certainly come a long way from writing up Fyffes's interims. The British public were nearly robbed of this unique literary event when burglars nicked all the club's computers, but thankfully not before the first issue of the mag had been put to bed, he says. Where you or I may have just gone to a disco in our youth, dear reader, the men from the Ministry aim to spin a media empire off the original club, with radio stations, Internet sites and record companies all in various stages of development. Sadly,last weekend's press suggestions of a pounds 20m offer by Sony to buy the Ministry's record label seem wide of the mark. However, I'm sure someone like Richard Branson will come along and snap the lot up before long.

A growing number of motorists are going "on the wagon" and not touching a drop of booze, according to figures compiled by Dial Direct, a motor insurance company. The analysis of insurance claims shows that nearly a fifth of motorists applying for cover c laim to be teetotal. Good news for safety campaigners, it seems. But the surprise findings don't end there. Declared "non-drinkers" are making between 5 and 10 per cent more insurance claims than those car drivers who declare they enjoy the occasional tipple. Mike Elkin, Dial Direct's marketing manager, suggests the sad explanation for these findings is that "some motorists are being economical with the truth about their drinking habits when providing information to us". Surely not. Make mine a treble...

Some musical chairs at the top of the drug companies. Novartis has appointed Jerry Karabelas as head of its healthcare business worldwide and chief executive of pharmaceuticals, starting next year. Mr Karabelas, 45, currently executive vice president with SmithKline Beecham, will succeed Pierre Douaze, who will retire, SmithKline has recalled Howard Pien from China to replace Mr Karabelas in North America.