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"They ain't gaffes. They are ideas. If you don't like them, fair enough. If you think they are rubbish, by all means say that they are. But they ain't gaffes." - Tony Banks, sports minister, defending the occasional outbursts which have landed him in trouble.

"Handouts are what toffs give to bums on skid row. Handouts are the middle-class's munificence to the poor." - Lord Hattersley, Labour peer, chiding the Secretary of State for Social Security, Harriet Harman, for describing social security payments as handouts.

"This has been a week when the Downing Street press officer, still only a minor figure in world history, was discovered addressing a Secretary of State in peremptory terms which would have been offensive if used to an office boy. Who does this man Alastair Campbell think he is?" - Lord Rees-Mogg, on Alastair Campbell's chastising memos to Harriet Harman and her deputy Frank Field.

"We have to speak up. It's time for people who care about the arts to stop being so nice." - Deborah Bull, Royal Ballet solo dancer.

"I, for one, will not be worrying much about my microchip-controlled toaster." - Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Cambridge computer scientist, claiming fears about the Millennium Bug are greatly exaggerated.

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