Village People: 13/02/2010


An aristocratic take on the oldest profession


*One effect of the Constitutional Reform Bill being debated this week is that there will be no more hereditary peers in the Lords. Some people have lamented the special expertise that will be lost. Debates about grouse shooting, forestry, land management and similar issues are so much better informed in the Lords than in the Commons.

An example of the very special take on life that a true aristocrat can contribute is Lord Lucas's speech last year on legislation that makes it a criminal offence for a man to pay for sex with a prostitute who has been a victim of human trafficking. He said: "It surprises me that a Labour Government should go down this route. It will be a law that will bite the poor, not the rich. It attacks the forms of prostitution used by ordinary working men, not those used by rich men. That is unjustifiable social discrimination."

He added: "I note that there are a couple of dozen of us here and it is said that one in eight men uses prostitutes. There is, therefore, a less than 5 per cent chance, on average, that none of us has an interest to declare..."

Lucas is an Old Etonian who inherited a title awarded to his family for remaining loyal to the Stuart kings through the Cromwell years. He was a minister in the last Tory government. A little of our national heritage will disappear when the last of these specimens leaves Parliament.

Mystery of the moth infestation

*Moth update. The Labour MP Graham Allen, who has an office on the corridor plagued by fluttering insects, has been pointing the finger for the infestation at the shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove, pictured left, who had bought a second-hand Moroccan carpet about the time the first critter appeared. But other theories abound about the provenance of the moths. "It it not true," insists Allen, "that the first moth arrived when I opened my wallet. Nor when I had to examine my 1987 expenses claims."

MPs to debate the seagull menace

*Another person with strange infestations on his mind is the MP for Gloucester, Parmjit Dhanda, who called a formal Commons debate on the seagulls plaguing the city. But why would seagulls congregate in Gloucester, which is about as far from the seas as you can get on these islands? "I can only imagine that the old-fashioned stone-clad buildings resemble seagulls' natural habitat of cliffs," Mr Dhanda conjects. You might think this a ridiculous subject for the Commons to debate, but remember the looming election. Gloucester is a marginal seat, and perhaps there's a critical mass of swing voters out there who will back a candidate trying to save them from squawking dive-bombers.

Bananaman backs convert Brown

*The Foreign Secretary David Miliband, or "Milibanana" as he has been known since that photocall, seems pleased Gordon Brown is eating nine bananas a day. At a dinner on Wednesday, Bananaman joked: "I was way ahead of the curve when it came to bananas. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so Gordon's commitment to the banana revolution is very well merited." Revolution? Surely he means banana republic?

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