The Sketch: Simon Carr

Watch out Geoff, there are a couple of young pups eager to dehome you
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The Independent Online

I like Geoff Hoon. Mind you, I like my dogs but I wouldn't want them to be Secretary of State for Defence, either – even though they'd do perfectly well at the dispatch box (they like to bark). They're the breed that was featured, head cocked, in front of a large gramophone horn listening to "his master's voice". The Prime Minister would love them. I shouldn't be so negative. They'd make excellent ministers. Two of them, twins, female, and from another species. Imagine what that says about the Government's commitment to diversity.

Before we start, Labour's Clive Efford came up with the day's silliest neologism – "dehomed". The Speaker deignored him, he desat down and unshut up. It didn't make any difference.

Paul Flynn described America's "Star Wars" plan as "a Maginot Line in the sky". Rather a good phrase. "Could he explain," he asked the minister, "how a terrorist armed with an ebola virus or with smallpox could be affected by Star Wars and persuaded not to turn our cities into biological armageddons?" Mr Hoon had an answer so ingenious it defied understanding. "I simply don't accept the argument," he said, "that says fanatics that are prepared to take chemicals in a suitcase into public places are any less dangerous than those who are prepared to launch ballistic missiles." Mr Flynn probably would not accept that argument either, which is why he never made it.

Malcolm "the Mouse" Savidge ventilated a personal anxiety. "Practically and tactically", he declared, the thing to be worried about was a terrorist sneaking a small nuclear weapon into Parliament Square in a van and blowing away the House of Commons (sketch that!). Silly question. Parking a van in Parliament Square with a nuclear bomb is impossible. It's why we have parking wardens.

Bernard Jenkin – the new defence shadow, took over from ... it's on the tip of my tongue, no, it's gone – did quite well. Ministers had said British forces were "immediately available" and " ready now", while a senior soldier had said instead that they needed more training. Mr Hoon explained that the soldier's remarks had been taken out of context in the most unhelpful way and that troops who needed further training were immediately available. Monomaniacs master the art of double think and treble talk.

John Bercow raised a point of order. He'd tabled a written question about the level of under-spending on both health and education. The question remained unanswered well after its due date. Instead, the material was given to this newspaper. While the Sketch is in favour of sensitive material being leaked to The Independent, this was none the less a disgraceful contempt of Parliament.

There was more. It appeared that a further Bercow question had elicited a more detailed response from Andrew Smith, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He was told to look up the answer himself on the Treasury's website. When Mr Bercow tried to do so, the website told him: "Page no longer exists or has been moved".

The Speaker was asked for a ruling, or at least an opinion. He cocked his head, listening out for his master's voice. And hearing nothing, said: "Bow wow wow, arf arf, ow ow!" I think we all know what he meant.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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