Friday, February 18, 2011

The week

There hasn't been time to update the blog so far this week, but the House rose yesterday until Monday week, giving me the opportunity of catching up with the rest of my life, including half an hour on Skype with Victoria and Alan in Cambodia this afternoon, and the same with Maurice in New Zealand just now (20.00).

We had two late nights this week on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, which the Labour Party has tried so hard to scupper. They didn't want the size of constituencies to be equalised, and they are now against a referendum on giving electors the right to choose a fairer voting system, which they backed at the election less than a year ago.

Anyway, the Bill finally went through after some ping-pong, and the House went into recess yesterday for 10 days. It should give me a chance to catch up on the paperwork, and to prepare for my 2 1/2 hour debate on the situation in Zimbabwe on March 10.

I received an invitation from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health this week. You'ld think governments would latch onto the idea of increasing the tax on tobacco, simultaneously reducing the £2.7 billion annual cost to the NHS of smoking-related illness. Its estimated that with the tobacco control measures now in place, a 5% increase in the retail price of cigarettes through a tax hike would increase revenue by £430 million, and save money on treatment of smoking-related disease.

I used to smoke quite heavily (20-40 a day) until I gave up on July 31, 1976. The prevailing wisdom was that 20 years after a smoker gave up, the risk would be cancelled. But I'm certain that my vascular problems are related to my previous smoking history. The best way to avoid smoking-related disease is never to start smoking.

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