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The daily Hansard trawl

Having been beaten to it by Dizzy, who spotted that our legislators are back, now's my chance to pick over the carcass

The Lords first:

"Lord Moonie - To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the allowable rental on central London properties for military personnel serving in the Ministry of Defence main building on Whitehall for whom service accommodation is not available".

Well, the brass hats do need somewhere to hang their, erm, hats, but what do they get?

Right at the top of the foodchain, we have 'Rear Admiral/Air Vice Marshal/Major General' or above', and they get £1380 a month. Not a bad sounding figure, perhaps, but for central London? The going rate for a 2 or 3 bedroom flat in the centre, and not in, say, Cadogan Square, looks to be in the region of £1000 a week. As to the grunts - 'Leading Rating/Corporal and below' - they can have the joy of being sniggered at by the animated slime that passes for estate agents in these parts when they ask what they can get for £770. Still, when they get bumped to Sergeant etc said animated slime will be laughing on the other side of their faces as the figure is £780 a month.

Sticking with the boys and girls in green, we have this:

Lord Moonie To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the salary range on 1 April for Lieutenant-Colonels (or equivalent ranks in other services) up to 2-star level in (a) 1979, (b) 1989, (c) 1999 and (d) 2009.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The annual salary ranges (inclusive of X-factor1) for Lieutenant-Colonels (and equivalent ranks) up to Major-General (2-star rank and equivalents) are shown in the following table....


The X factor, eh? "was introduced in 1970 to recognise the relative disadvantage in conditions of Service experienced by members of the Armed Forces in comparison to civilian life". Maybe there's a TV programme to be had from this.

Moonie (Or Lord Reunification, mebbe?), a perhaps unlikely troopie groupie, is a former quack who, amazingly enough, got a peerage after standing down as MP for Kirkcaldy, and entirely co-incidentally, allowing a certain Gordon Brown to take the seat. Amazing. Moonie is also one of the villains of the peace over the cash for influence.

And so the World's Largest Outdoor Steroid Abuse Festival:

Lord Jopling To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the latest cost of the 2012 London Olympic Games; and what was the proposed cost in the United Kingdom's original successful bid.

Lord Davies of Oldham: ...As confirmed in the recent quarterly economic report on the Games (13 May 2009)—the £9.325 billion funding package for the Games remains unchanged.


I fear the Lord has not been entirely straight here, and I suspect that there are some off book figures he has skipped over. Note that Davies did not mention the £2.35bn that this wretched event was supposed to cost. Still, what's an extra seven billion for the privilege of hosting the modern pentathlon, small bore rifle shooting, synchronised swimming and all of those other events that about 10 people - exluding family and competitors - in London care a fig for?

Earl Howe (remember him?) has found a wrong that cries out to Heaven for vengeance:

"To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to introducing legislation to prevent persons under the age of 18 from gaining access to coin-operated sun-beds".
Doubtless a concern, but is this really the issue of the day?

Switching Houses:

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2009, Official Report, column 439W, on trade unions, what office facilities his Department provides for the exclusive use of each recognised trade union; and what the notional annual value of such provision is

"...approximately £60,000 per annum".

Aren't we generous. The list of things supplied include printers, PCs etc, but rather intriguingly, pedestals. Given that desks are also named in the list, one does end up with the image of the various DEFRA tribunes taking turns standing atop the pedestals to better declare 'I'm the king of the castle'. Or maybe not.

Rosindell is asking about the pink bits on the map again:

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what UK (a) Army and (b) Royal Navy personnel are based in the UK Overseas Territories in the Caribbean; [276784]

(2) what UK armed forces are based in (a) Anguilla, (b) the British Virgin Islands, (c) the Cayman Islands, (d) Montserrat and (e) the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are no UK armed forces based in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, or Turks and Caicos Islands.

I think any of those places would be ideal for some post-Afghanistan R&R for our military types. Especially since there is always the chance that Cuba might invade. You can't be too careful, can you?

Meanwhile, see how calm you feel after reading this question from political lifer Gordon Prentice:

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department takes to (a) verify and (b) validate accounts of the actions of soldiers for which they are given awards for gallantry.

Well, Gordon, folk serving with the colours tend to have just a marginally greater sense of honour, probity, decency, trustworthiness etc than some politicans.

Sticking with matters military, the dreaded white phosphorous:

Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any munitions containing white phosphorus manufactured in the UK have been used in theatres of operation involving UK armed forces in the last 10 years.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The UK armed forces inventory does include some white phosphorous munitions that were manufactured in the UK. They were manufactured over 10 years ago and have been used by UK forces in theatres of operation within the last 10 years to protect troops on operations by producing a smoke screen to provide cover.

Which is what it is designed for.

It can't have been much fun working for 'Lord' Falconer, with sickies per head per year ranging from 9.8 days per year in 2004 to 10.9 in 2006. Straw is either a nicer capo dei capi to work for or he does not put up with so much lead swinging, as sickies had fallen back to 7.6 per head per year (and still a shocking figure) by 2008.

An interesting one:

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) suspected and (b) viable explosive devices or components have been found in each prison in England and Wales in each of the last 12 years for which figures are available.

Joint leader, with two viable devices, in 1999-2000 was Ford. Ford is the white collar prison par excellence, and is a former home to Ernest Saunders, Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken. Maybe the bomb maker was upset about the FSA or had a bad week with long bonds.

The DoH's taste in celebs:

John Mason: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has engaged any (a) actors, (b) musicians and (c) other performers to support its initiatives over the last five years.

Melinda Messenger promoted the five a day thing, and then these household names show up - Jenny Frost who promoted breast feeding, Gary Lucy, Gemma Bissex and Sian Reeves (who are these people?) had video diaries covering their attempts to stop smoking and Donna Air the unforgettable 'Catch It Bin It Kill It' campaign.

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