The Sketch: Politics for entertainment only

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The Independent Online

Incredibly, new member Edward Timpson wasn't in the House for Transport questions, even though his constituency was mentioned. You're right if you think his colleagues have decided to put him through the By-Member Procedure. Erskine May requires that he now stands up after the Speaker has called the first question tomorrow and says, " Soit Crewe, la reine se dit elle veut" and takes off his hat three times. If he fails to do this... well, it will be worth watching is all I'll say for now.

Transport questions. Norman Baker asked this: was opening new airports the best way to meet our long-term emissions target? Ruth Kelly, the Government's little sunbeam, said she fully supported reducing carbon emissions by 60 or possibly even 80 per cent by 2050. But who cares? Norman Baker won't hold her to account on this because by then he'll be dead. She may very well be dead too. For heaven's sake, it's 42 years away, we'll all be dead.

These massive reductions are the perfect political promise. They're impossible to achieve but no one has any intention of achieving them and it doesn't matter because it'll all be someone else's fault. Bloody posterity. It's ruining the planet.

Peter Lilley should have been in those sort of war films Anthony Quayle made. He has the bearing of a cultivated major in an artillery regiment. Steady under fire, the bearing of a modest cockerel and full of regimental virtues (vim, intelligence, dry wit). His 10-minute rule Bill made, as Hugh Bayley said in reply, a political point rather than administrative proposal but it certainly cheered up all who heard it.

MPs' pay should be related to their responsibilities, Lilley said. The more they had, the more they should get. Now that the EU is putting so much more legislative roughage through our system, MPs should be paid correspondingly less. How much less? Some estimates had EU law at 50 per cent, others at 10 per cent. Only 10 per cent of our statutory instruments come from Europe, he conceded, but each of them authorised an entire directive equivalent to an Act of Parliament. And there were 177 of them last year.

Why didn't more people understand the scale of this Euro-intrusion? Because ministers, mysteriously, preferred to claim unpopular proposals (such as the Housing Information Packs) as their own initiative rather than blame the EU. It was, he said in a collectible phrase, the way of the cuckold – to claim paternity rather than admit impotence.

No, he's not proposing it with any serious hope of success. It's like Ruth Kelly's environmental ambitions. As the new Consumer Protection Act has it: the carbon targets are "for entertainment purposes only".

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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