Labour Conference: Seen & heard

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The Independent Online
Tony Banks, the Sports Minister, was forced to apologise to William Hague, after he had called him a "foetus" at a fringe meeting Having said that Conservative MPs had "elected a foetus as party leader", the outspoken minister then added: "I bet there's a lot of Tory MPs that wish they hadn't voted against abortion now."

Mr Banks said in a later statement: "This was a tasteless remark, uttered off the cuff, which I acknowledge caused offence and for which I fully apologise."

A Conservative Party spokesman said the remark had been "utterly distasteful". Sir Teddy Taylor, Conservative MP for Southend East and Rochford, said: "This is little more than saloon-bar vulgarity. If Mr Banks is going to bring back this kind of filthy and offensive language into British politics, it won't do anyone any good. At least Mr Hague is a gentleman."

"Charlie is the youngest person ever to address a Labour conference. All I can say is, `William Hague, eat your heart out." David Blunkett introducing Charlie Nobbs, an 11-year-old whose speech on his reading summer school beat Mr Hague, who addressed the Tory conference at 16, by five years.

Seen in the conference shop: Sets of mugs for pounds 17.50, each bearing one of Labour's five election pledges. But "Waiting lists will be shorter" has mysteriously become "Treat more NHS patients." (see picture opposite)

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