Friday 02 February 1996
I would not recommend Michael Portillo to loiter too close to the Lords at present. One of their number rang me in a high twitch yesterday to say that the Portillo name is mud in that chamber.
The problem? It seems that in his entire political career Portillo has only ever put two important Bills through Parliament: the first being last year's Jobseekers' Bill; the second is the Reserve Forces Bill, which is just going through.But in both cases the original Bill has been so badly drafted that it has had to be recommitted - that is, redrafted and re-presented to a committee before making it through to the Lords for debate.
"It is a pretty shoddy performance," says my disgruntled noble lord, "and all parties here are very fed up with him."
But isn't this a tad unfair? Surely, it's up to the parliamentary draftsmen to sort out the fine print. "It is not," an equally angry whip tells me. "The responsibility to get these Bills right before they enter Parliament belongs to the minister. The draftsman just follows his or her instructions."
Enemies in the Admiralty, enemies in the Lords ... 1996 has not begun well for the darling of the right.
The Prince and the what?
The Prince and the showgirl? Puh-leese. It's the prince and the actress. I'm glad to find Patricia Kirkwood upholding the traditions of actorly hauteur.
In a letter to the Daily Express this week, she scotches the myth that has resurfaced in the press recently of a relationship between herself and Prince Philip. It is a myth that has dogged and distressed her for 10 years, she says. And she adds, giving vent to 10 years of irritation: "Incidentally, I was never a 'showgirl' and neither was I a 'dancer'. I was an actress and singer, as described in two volumes of Who's Who in the Theatre."
Quite right. It just doesn't sound quite so catchy in a headline.
Ally behind the scenes
I am much moved by a stirring article in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. In it the journalist Barbara Amiel, wife of the Telegraph's proprietor, Conrad Black, makes a passionate case for the Royal Opera House in the light of recent criticism.
"It is home to the finest ballet company in the world," she reminds us, "and one of the finest opera ensembles as well." The average price of an opera ticket may be pounds 67, but, she argues, that can't begin to cover the cost of production.
In lyrical vein she claims that the dancers Darcey Bussell and Sylvie Guillem "take us into a world of such incandescent beauty that even spring flowers cannot match their radiance".
She then moves on to a more metaphysical level altogether. "Giving funds to opera when you don't like it is akin to giving to a charity for an illness that one will never get. My age and childlessness does not stop me from contributing to childhood leukaemia ... "
It can only have been pressure of space, I'm sure, that caused both Ms Amiel and the Daily Telegraph to neglect to mention that the author is a member of the Royal Opera House Trust. According to the Royal Opera House's literature, the trust was "established to support the work of the Royal Opera House and its three companies ... The Royal Opera House is extremely grateful for this support."
MPs drink to the Czechs
The arduous workload of our underpaid MPs: part II. On Wednesday night the honourable gentlemen and a few ladies packed the large Jubilee Room at the Commons for the fine and upstanding cause of supporting Czech Heritage. The particular aspect of Czech Heritage turned out to be that country's beer heritage. The free and lengthy beer-tasting session (sorry, heritage support meeting) went on well into the evening.
Welsh Water's dry humour
Welsh Water was in bullish mood yesterday when it officially took over South Wales Electricity in a pounds 853m deal. The water company's chief executive, Graham Hawker, went on BBC Wales's morning radio bulletin to announce that the new company so formed would be called Hyder, the Welsh word for confidence. In the town of Brecon, home to Welsh Water's head office, the townsfolk would have been glowing with confidence and pride over their morning tea, were it not that the latest in a series of leaks had resulted in all the water being turned off.
- 2 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber reach almost £154,000 on eBay
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...
£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...