The Sketch: We will trust the minister if he puts a parrot in his pants

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The Independent Online

But first, some amateur psychology. Baroness Scotland is a very fine looking woman. Too good looking, it's disabled her. She never had to be clever to be popular; she could just stand at a party and everyone would end up looking at her, as if she were a television.

But first, some amateur psychology. Baroness Scotland is a very fine looking woman. Too good looking, it's disabled her. She never had to be clever to be popular; she could just stand at a party and everyone would end up looking at her, as if she were a television.

Nonetheless, she may find herself in the record books. As she argued the Government's terror case, she established an entirely new definition of vacuity. Science may be interested. There's always a use for really complete emptiness. Especially when you don't have to go out beyond the asteroid belt to find it.

The Lords voted a series of humiliating amendments through. How I long to be a peer. I would have tabled an amendment requiring five singing canaries to be tied to the Lord Chancellor's collar. They would have passed it. I could have got it written into the Bill that derogated control orders could only be issued by a judge if the Lord Chancellor had a parrot in his pants. I wouldn't even have had to argue for it, they would have voted for it unanimously.

It was about trust, apparently. Was the Government to be trusted? There was only one answer to that. A crossbench amendment was passed requiring the state to feed people under house arrest. How about that? Lady Scotland tried to say that they could surely be trusted with that? The House didn't agree. They wanted it in writing. And who would take the children to school? Had that been considered? And if the fellow couldn't go to work, who'd pay the mortgage? And if his house was repossessed, whose house would he then be kept under arrest in?

The baroness assured the House everything had been thought through thoroughly, but even the raw, filthy politics has been botched, let alone the fine, copperplate drafting.

Lord Onslow warned that the logical conclusion of this house arrest process would be people having to pay for their own imprisonment. This Government's 18th-century tendencies have been noted before by this column.

"We have been accused of undermining the security of the country by suggesting amendments," Lord Kingsland said.

And there's the nub of it. This Bill is a tactical joust to portray the Tories as soft on terror. There is no real urgency, and precious little efficacy. If preventing 200 Iqbals and Alis from using their mobile phones will stop a dirty bomb going off in Parliament Square - I'll eat my glowing, radiating sketch.

At any rate, amid the smoke and the smell of cordite, the amendments seemed to me to make the Bill more or less acceptable.

Today it comes back to the Commons where, we have to assume, all the good work of the Lords will be torn to pieces.

It'll be torn to pieces by lawyers, case by case, in any event, as soon as it becomes law.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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