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The Hansard Trawl, featuring sentient cows, a plug for IBM from DEFRA and the ongoing costs of supporting the Ulster Lawyers' Benevolent Fund

If only cows could talk:

"Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will arrange immediately to hold a conference for all interested parties to discuss the state of dairy farming.

Maybe they do.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Representatives from throughout the production and retail chain already attend the twice-yearly Dairy Supply Chain Forum. The most recent of these forums was held on 17 June 2009. Both industry and the Government felt that the key message was a need to boost market confidence".

One of my all time favourite jokes involves proferring an outstretched hand, and then rhythmically squeezing the hand offered in return while avering 'hello, I'm from the Milk Marketing Board'. I tried it on a dairy farmer once, and he rather liked it.

Sticking with matters rural:

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many laptop computers belonging to (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have been lost or stolen in the last five years.

Dan Norris (Thefts having risen from 18 in 2005-6 to 54 in 2008-9): The recent increases should be seen against the background of a significant increase in the numbers of laptops in use; for example, the numbers of IBM laptops issued across the DEFRA network under the enabling contract has increased more than six fold from some 1,200 in 2005 to over 7,500 in 2009, as we have gradually replaced desktops with encrypted laptops to reduce environmental impacts and make it easier for staff to work remotely.

Why the superfluous detail?

Meanwhile, DEFRA's reading material:

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to which (a) magazines, (b) journals and (c) newspapers his Department subscribes; and what the cost of such subscriptions has been in each of the last three years

And what a list it is. I am not going to quibble over Farmers Weekly, Horticulture Week or even the doubtless thrilling Agbiotech Reporter, but the Radio Times? And National Geographic?

The latest costs for the Northern Ireland Lawyer Welfare Fund various public inquiries are in. My previous update appeared in February, and the Nelson Inquiry has (to May) cost £41.1m and the Hamill Inquiry £26.8m.

Is someone feeling the impact of Troughgate / worried about his majority and looking for a new income stream?:

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the odds of winning a minimum prize with a £500 Premium Bond holding were in (a) 1992, (b) 1997, (c) 2001, (d) 2005 and (e) 2009.

The figures were 1 in 23 in '92 and are now 1 in 73. I could note Milton Friedman's (?) observation that the odds on the illegal New York Numbers game were considerably better than those of the state sanctioned lottery that was brought in to, inter alia, protect the public.

An interesting if somewhat creepy Q&A:

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many bodies of persons who died in the last 10 years in England and Wales remain unidentified.

Bridget Prentice: Where a deceased person cannot be identified the body must be disposed of by the local authority in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, either by burial or cremation. Central records of such disposals are not kept.

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Blogger JuliaM said... 11:39 am

"Why the superfluous detail?"

On the 'IBM' bit, no idea. On the 'encrypted' bit, it's to show how they've learned the lessons of the HMRC foul-up.

Although I suspect the average 10 year old would have no problem cracking the encrypition provided by most govt suppliers..  

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