Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Short week

Yesterday the Parliament was prorogued, ie ended, and the new Session will be opened by the Queen on November 6. I have never attended the State Opening in the 45 years I've been in Parliament, because I don't see Parliament as being about dressing up in funny clothes like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.

The prorogation ceremony I don't object to so much, because only the Lord Speaker, the Leader of the House, the Leaders of the three parties and the Leader of the Crossbenchers have to put on robes. The men also have to wear ridiculous Napoleonic headgear, which they doff three times to the Commons at the bar, while the two women just bow. The names of the few Acts which haven't already been given Royal Assent are read out in turn, and after each the Clerk says 'La Reine le Veult'. Finally, the Leader reads out a Queen's Speech on prorogation, listing all the wonderful things done by 'my Government' during the past Session.

The extra day's sitting, at which no other business is transacted, probably costs £50,000

I chaired a meeting to discuss the research findings of Dr Jo Richardson of de Montfort University on site provision for Gypsies and Travellers, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation []. Other speakers were Cllr Richard Bennett, chair of the LGA Gypsy Traveller Task Group and Janie Codona, a former Commissioner of the CRE.

Monday I asked a supplementary question on the trials of the four LRA leaders in Uganda, and the scientific evidence on global warming and the floods in Uganda (and other parts of east and central Africa)

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