The Week in Review

THE TREASURY, guardian of the nation's purse strings and scourge of overspending departments, was adamant. The minister in the spotlight had bought three bottles of wine and not champagne and cigarettes.

The Public Sector Borrowing Requirement may be about to soar to pounds 44bn and the pound have nose-dived ignominiously out of the exchange rate mechanism, but the Treasury was in control on this one. It produced Norman Lamont's till receipt for pounds 17.47.

For Mr Lamont, Chancellor of the Exchequer a few days must have seemed like an eternity. His misfortunes began the previous week when it was revealed that he had not paid his Access card bill and was over his credit limit. One of the Access receipts was from a Threshers off-licence and when a shop assistant claimed that the non-smoking Chancellor had bought champagne and cigarettes in a seedy area of London, press curiosity grew. No sooner had the controversy fizzled out with the publication in every national newspaper of Mr Lamont's receipt than the Chancellor was involved in another row.

It emerged that the Treasury had paid pounds 4,000 towards a pounds 23,000 legal bill he had incurred evicting a tenant from his private home.

The fact that the tenant was a lady 'sex therapist' who had already featured prominently in the press at the time of her removal only added to the story. Whitehall did what it always does at such tricky times and announced an inquiry.

Details of the council tax, a product of earlier Government disasters over the poll tax, were announced on Tuesday. Predictably, many people, particularly those in London and south-eastern England, were very angry about what they will pay.

The Government however is hoping that fewer people will be cross about the council tax than about the poll tax, despite cries about 'chaos and injustice' from the Labour Party. If the grumpiness level proves controllable, the new levy should survive.

Bank customers are certainly feeling extremely grumpy and on Wednesday Laurence Shurman, the Banking Ombudsman, reported a 60 per cent increase in complaints. Bank charges and interest were the chief causes of consumer rage.

The findings of the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles were also announced on Wednesday. After interviewing 18,000 people it came up with the unsurprising conclusion that those with more money and greater opportunities have more sexual partners. It also discovered that in every age group far more men than women claimed to have had more than 10 sexual partners. This is final proof that men are bigger liars when it comes to talking about sex.

Both the Sun and the Daily Mirror have decided that Christmas comes very early indeed.

Both published full lists of television programmes over the festive period and, no doubt by an extraordinary coincidence, both did so yesterday.

Sadly the IRA, its mentality growing ever more twisted with the passing years, has also decided that Christmas comes early.

After failing to set off a massive car bomb in London on Tuesday it exploded two devices in Manchester's main shopping area on Thursday, injuring 64 people.

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