Actors Of Parliament
This issue’s look at parliamentary gobble-de-gook.
Squall 13, Summer 1996, pg. 15.
Secretary of State, Peter Lilley staked a claim for the loyalty of the working classes in a speech delivered to the Scottish Conservative Party Conference in Aberdeen in May. He said: “We must make it clear. We Conservatives are the party of the hard-working classes. We don’t care if they have blue collars or blue blood.”
The board members of the newly created Environment Agency, the biggest quango in Britain, would undoubtedly waggle their cigars in agreement. They each receive £12,000 a year for putting in four days of ‘work’ a month. Unelected chairman of the new Agency is Lord De Ramsey, a rich landowner living in John Major’s Huntingdon constituency. Despite all this, Prince Edward recently voiced his deep conviction that Britain no longer operates a ‘jobs for the old school tie’ system. Instead, he suggested, promotion and reward were offered on a basis of of personal merit and hard work: a “meritocracy” according to man of the world Eddie.
Indeed, when Sir Derek Barber was chairman of the the Countryside Commission - another government-appointed quango - he wrote about this new meritocracy: “I became chairman... as a consequence of sharing a cab with a stranger. Another quango chairman was appointed following a pheasant shoot at which the Secretary of State was a fellow gun; the subsequent chairman of a water authority bumped into a cabinet minister while birding on a Greek Island. It is a splendidly capricious and British way of doing things. I am advised that the success-failure rate is about the same as when headhunters are engaged. And look at the thousands of guineas you save.”(Countryside Commission Newsletter March 1991). So plebs, stop moaning about vested interest nepotism, get on your bike and go and earn your ancestral inheritance. Hard work all round what, what, and pass the port.
Lady Olga Maitland, Con MP for Sutton and Cheam and ever the outraged open mouth, made her pedantic contribution to the 2nd reading debate on the Noise Bill. Whilst most MPs banged on about how disruptive modern music was to the nation’s sleep patterns, Maitland concerned herself with other abominations : “Noise at night from other sources should be included in the Bill for example cockerels crow at night and with the early dawn.... they make a dreadful piercing sound.” (Hansard 16/2/96 Col 1290)
According to a recent opinion poll conducted by MORI, Britain’s parliamentary system has lost its democratic mandate. In 1991 59 per cent of those questioned thought Parliament worked “very” or “quite” well. By 1996 this majority had disappeared, as the figure slipped to 44 per cent. Despite this vote of no confidence, MP’s are pushing for a 30 per cent pay rise.