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Digging around in Hansard

Firstly, the big problem of the hour:

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Leader of the House whether it is the Government's policy that hon. Members who are married to or in a civil partnership with a member of the House of Lords will be eligible for a second home allowance.

The answer is dull and formulaic, so not worth adding in, but I do wonder how many of these Hackney / Chelsea relationships are going on. The only one I can think of imediately is Alan Beith / 'Baroness' Maddock. Maybe there is a lively dating scene in the House that pairs off the downturn with the uptown. Dai Davies himself would appear to be far away from the ermine outside of office hours, by the way.

Rather more serious is this

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what percentage of penalty notices for disorder remained unpaid (a) six and (b) 12 months after issue in each of the last five years

And the figures are pitiful, averaging 52% paid in full in 2004, bottoming out at 23% for 'Consumption of alcohol in public place'. 44% pay up for wasting police time, and one might wonder who is wasting whose time given the remaining 56%. On the upside, 83% of firework curfew breakers paid up.

Fishing appears to be getting more popular, year on year, based on DEFRA licences issued for salmon, trout and coarse fishing, rising from 589,245 in 1999 to 793,127 last year. Or maybe there's been a clampdown. I've never had the patience for fishing, so will throw in the old line from Dr Johnson - 'a stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other'.

Meanwhile, what is the well dressed DEFRA-ite wearing to the beach this summer?

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on branded stationery and gifts for (a) internal and (b) external promotional use in each of the last five years.

Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA orders low cost promotional items only to support specific campaign messages to external audiences. The following figures show how much DEFRA spent on promotional materials each year since 2005.

2005-06 Total spend £465.80—T-shirts;

2006-07 Total spend £13,806.00—T-shirts, travel wallets and toothbrushes for the BME Illegal Food Imports campaign;

2007-08 Total spend £10,177.80—T-shirts, pens, travel wallets for the BME Illegal Food Imports campaign and T-shirts for Act on CO2 campaign;

A fiver to anyone who spots someone wearing either t-shirt, photographs it and sends it to me. Seriously, I'll pay up.

No junkets for Harriet:

David Simpson: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how much expenditure was incurred in respect of overseas visits which (a) she, (b) other Ministers in the Government Equalities Office and (c) Government Equalities Office senior officials undertook in 2008.

Minister for Equality - 0.

Over in the Lords, Malloch-Brown wouold appear to believe that brevity is the soul of wit:

Lord Pearson of Rannoch To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Government's policy towards the European Union has been influenced by the analysis of the history and purpose of the European Union presented in The Great Deception, by Christopher Booker and Richard North. [HL3773]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): No.

What did Pearson expect...


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