Diary: Come on, kids – behave like real parliamentarians


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The Independent Online

It was the turn of the grown-ups yesterday to set an example of proper behaviour in the House of Commons, in complete contrast to the previous day's snarling, finger pointing confrontation between George Osborne and Ed Balls. The Youth Select Committee, most of whose members are too young to vote, has begun its first parliamentary inquiry. Their chosen topic was transport, with particular emphasis on school transport.

It was very serious, very polite, and very focused on the day's topic. The question that caused the ministers in the hot seats the greatest difficulty was being asked: "At what age do you believe that a child becomes an adult?"

The Tory children's minister, Tim Loughton, sensed a trap. If he replied "16", he would be asked why 16-year-olds cannot vote. If he said "18", he would have to explain why some of the bus companies make 16-year-olds pay adult fares. So he tried to dodge the question, but when the chairman, Dara Farrell. politely insisted on an answer, he opted for 18. Norman Baker, the Lib Dem transport minister sitting next to him, went for 16. And that was the nearest thing to a coalition split that the session produced.

The other awkward moment came at the end, when the chairman asked innocently: "Do you have any recommendations that we can make to ministers in your department from this session?" It was everything a parliamentary session ought to be – sensible, serious, polite, and dull. After an hour, I was longing for the kids to link arms, chant "Cameron is a w***ker" and get kettled by the Met like proper teenagers.

Bangers and gnash

You cannot make a Cornish pasty or a Melton Mowbray pork pie, unless you're from respectively Cornwall or Melton Mowbray. But you don't have to be in Lincolnshire to manufacture and market Lincolnshire sausages. The Lincolnshire Sausage Association considers this outrageous, and has applied to the Department of Environment for what is known as a Protected Geographical Indication. It was refused.

Last month they appealed, and this week the agriculture minister, James Paice, offered a glimmer of hope when he told Scunthorpe's MP, Nic Dakin, that the ministry will give "careful consideration" to any "new information" presented by the sausage makers.

Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, has warned: "Lincolnshire is in revolt on this issue. The last time we rebelled was against Henry VIII when he called us his 'most brute and beastly of counties'. This is not good enough."

Hollande's revenge?

President Francois Hollande is to visit David Cameron in Downing Street next week. We all hope the meeting goes well, but there are reasons why it might not.

Thinking that French voters needed his advice, Cameron used a February press conference to urge them to re-elect Nicolas Sarkozy. When Hollande visited London before the election, the Prime Minister decided not to meet him. Post-election, Cameron has offended the French by suggesting that their higher rate taxpayers should come to Britain, where taxes are lower. This week, President Hollande threatened punitive taxes on British owners of holiday homes in France. C'est la guerre.