The Sketch: Nothing of significance was said, which was interesting

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The Independent Online

PMQs: Cameron says: "It's a shambles, isn't it?" And the PM replies: "No. And it would be much more of a shambles if you were in charge." And the barrackers goes: "Wor! Mor! Bor!" We're a little off the high point of parliamentary debate, you might guess.

At least they're enjoying themselves. But I can't help thinking that this sort of thing was done better by William Hague (and look how well it worked then).

Cameron announced his desire for binding annual emissions targets (the Prime Minister thought he was being a little ... januarial). Then Cameron went off to Victoria Street to launch his policy on emission reductions. They're not binding in the least, so he did seem a little two-faced. But then it's all part of a narrative, not a governmental blueprint, so you can choose what to believe.

Then, an excursion to the Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation on a Human Tissue question (it's a 33-word title we haven't room for). The Liberals had "prayed against" a regulation and I was keen to see how this scrutinising mechanism works.

The first rule seems to be - if you want to "pray against" you have to turn up. Evan Harris, whose prayer had been answered, didn't take this precaution. A dozen high-powered parliamentarians and a £2,000-an-hour sketchwriter assembled to hear... almost nothing at all.

Liberal stand-in John Pugh presented a few post-legislative concerns of the British Medical Association about the Human Tissue Authority's Code of Practice. Stephen O'Brien for the Tories made an effort, at least, by producing a subjunctive argument starting: "If Evan Harris had been here, he would have argued for presumed consent for organ donors, to which I would have said..." But John Pugh rose to deny Evan Harris was going to say anything of the sort. At that point, the occasion lost a little tension, and we were only able to sit admiring Minister Rosie Winterton as she released her fragrance into the room for a quarter of an hour.

When the vote was taken, no one voted against.

As far as I could tell, absolutely nothing of significance was said on either side of the room. And had Rosie not laughed on her way out of the room: "I'm not Mental Capacity" (referring to today's meeting on the Mental Capacity Bill), "I only do organs, me," there would have been nothing memorable about the afternoon at all. Still, she produced a sentence that should be in a Dictionary of Political Quotations.

And of course, a total lack of content is a rare and interesting phenomenon. It's just very hard to remember.

simoncarr@sketch.co.uk

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