The Diary: Car park problems are starting to drive the peers mad

Andy McSmith
Saturday 11 February 2012 01:00

The House of Lords is a sedate place where little disturbs the calm, but there are two major issues currently endangering their lordships' blood pressures.

One is the overcrowding caused by David Cameron's determination to stuff the upper house with political placemen and women. The other is their car park.

Driving to this otherwise desirable London club has become increasingly frustrating, not just because more peers means extra traffic, but because of the security.

Their lordships complain that those who drive in have to execute a large loop to get through security, while those arriving by taxi have too far to walk from the drop off point.

This week, Ivon Anthony Moore-Brabazon, right, the third Baron Brabazon of Tara, whose job is to keep the Lords abreast of modern times, promised that a committee would investigate.

Meanwhile, since May 2010, the Coalition Government has awarded 110 new party political life peerages, not counting the new independent or crossbench peers, at the same time that they are pushing through legislation to cut the number of MPs.

Lord Forsyth, a former Tory Cabinet minister, suggested this week that this was a government plot to discredit the House of Lords as a prelude to abolishing it.

Lord Strathclyde, leader of the Lords, assured him he was wrong. He defended the influx of new peers by saying the total membership has seen "a reduction from the high reached earlier on" because of the number of peers who have died off during the cold spell.

The book's in the post, Mr Cameron

David Cameron thought the microphone was switched off at the end of the summit in Sweden where the discussion had included the possibility of introducing quotas for women in boardrooms. So when a delegate came up afterwards to say there were interesting thoughts on that very subject in the book Masters of Nothing, by the up-and-coming Tory MPs Matthew Hancock and Nadhim Zahawi, the Prime Minister had no hesitation in replying that he has not read it.

I understand the publishers are dispatching a copy to Downing Street.

Insult brings Twitter torment for Harvey

Hardly a day goes by without someone else in the public eye making a fool of himself by tweeting in haste. Alan Harvey, a councillor from Bingham, in Nottinghamshire was visiting Gainsborough and was struck by its similarity to Grantham. Then someone insulted his wife. In a fury, the councillor tweeted: "Gainsborough is a bit like Grantham, only with a bit more in-breeding."

As soon as he calmed down, he tweeted an apology to the people of Gainsborough, only to receive an irate call from the Grantham Journal wanting to know why he had not apologised to Grantham, too. Like the man said "Too many twits might make a twat."

Scott and Coalition hardly poles apart

This could be a Coalition minister speaking: "We plunged on, first thinking we were too much to the right, then too much to the left. Meanwhile the disturbance got worse. There were times when it seemed almost impossible to find a way out of the awful turmoil we were in.

"At length, arguing that there must be a way on our left, we plunged in that direction..."

Actually it is a diary entry by Robert Scott leader of the ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, 100 years ago today.

A workplace that's full of sweethearts

Sometimes you have to admire these public relations people for the ingenuity and effort they put into trying to whip up interest in something that is truly, deeply, utterly uninteresting.

This one came yesterday from a PR person identifying herself only as Rachael: "The Swizzels Matlow factory in Derbyshire, home to the iconic Love Hearts sweets, is in the running for the most romantic workplace in Britain, after love blossomed for 61 couples. One in four of the factory's workforce is in a relationship with a fellow colleague."

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