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The daily Parliamentary miscellany

The question of whether Presleytarians Jedi Knights and so forth deserve legal protection has moved from the Lords to the Commons:

"Robert Neill: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality whether the Equality and Human Rights Commission recognises the Church of Scientology as a religion or faith".

However, Maria Eagle is a tad less all encompassing than her colleague the other week:

"The Equality and Human Rights Commission recognises all religions, faiths and beliefs in terms of its duties to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief. It is up to the courts to decide whether Scientology is a religion or faith within the terms of the Equality Act 2006".

I foreseee much speculative litigation.

Meanwhile, isn't the Northern Irish Department generous with its time:

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether it is his Department’s policy to offer staff (a) additional leave entitlement for Christmas shopping and (b) Christmas bonus payments. [262803]

Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Office does not make Christmas bonus payments to staff. Individual members of staff have been granted additional leave entitlement for Christmas shopping at the discretion of local line management.

Why can't they just use a certain internet operation named after a South American river like the rest of us? And what about employees celebrating May the Fourth - do they get the third off to stock up with light sabres?

Rosindell falls flat on his face:
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what expenditure his Department has incurred on its Second Life website in the last 12 months.

Mr. Sutcliffe: My Department does not have a Second Life website.

If I were Sutcliffe I would have said 'zero', thus facilitating another slapdown later in the week.

The DCMS are being good little arts commissars:

"Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much and what proportion of its waste his Department recycled in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008. [266775]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The following proportion of waste was recycled by the Department:

2007: 54 per cent.

2008: 69 per cent.

Mainly in the form of press releases and interviews with Jowell.

Evan Harris clearly wants to be rude quite soon:
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to abolish the offence of criminal libel; and if he will make a statement.


To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to abolish the offences of (a) sedition and (b) seditious libel.

Straw told him to get lost, albeit in a Parliamentary fashion.

Why is the Home Office's spend on 'magazines, newspapers and other publications' quite so erratic:

If it was an annual spike I could understand it - Beano annuals and Holiday Specials academic titles and the like, but October 2006 and November 2007?

Statistical curiosity o' the day, the statistical modal age for women having abortions, region by region. For every region in England & Wales it is 18, 19 or 20, but in London it is 23. Note also that modally, these are for women without children.

Meanwhile, the utterly pointless G20 bunfight (what's wrong with video conferencing, eh?) is costing every last one of us 35 pence:

"Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his latest estimate is of the cost of hosting the G20 London summit. [267607]

Caroline Flint: The total costs for hosting the London summit are currently estimated at £21 million which includes £7.2 million for policing.

This figure is £2 million greater than the figure given in the answers of 17 March 2009 ... The increase is due to an additional £1.75 million for changes in the build design of the venue, and £250,000 for tented immigration at airports to allow delegations through border control quickly. These amounts were not included in the previous estimate.

£1.75 million in build design? What in tarnation? And given what we know about Our Friends the Saudis, do we really want them waved through at Heathrow?

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