Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Reading Hansard is *sooo* Billy Hague... but on this occasion it's quite useful. Have a look at the Delegated Legislation Committee last Friday, when the Equality Act (Sexual Orientations) Regulations were debated.

The Committee was out in full, but there were a number of guests. 24 MPs who were not members of the committee turned up to give their views - as they are entitled to do. Surprise of surprises, 23 were Tory (there was one Lib Dem).

Two funny bits, both from Chris Bryant:

Mrs. Laing: (speaking for the Tories) We support the principle of equality and we support the Equality Act 2006.
Chris Bryant: Hooray! (Camp as y'like)

And then there's this exchange with "Vulcan Johnny" Redwood...

Mr. Redwood: The majority of clothes shops in this country discriminate against me, as a man, because they sell clothes only for women. I see nothing wrong with that, because, fortunately, there are other shops that sell clothes only for men—[Hon. Members: “Come out, John, and be honest about this.”] We should not say to all women’s clothes shops that they have to sell clothes that are suitable for normal men.

Chris Bryant: Ah, normal. You would not stand a chance.

Mrs Laing did indeed vote for the regulations, as no doubt she was whipped*. This means that David Cameron can say that the Tories voted for the regulation and that they are open-minded paragons of 21st Century inclusivity.

But what he won't be saying is that 23 members of his party turned up with bulging eyes and scarlet cheeks to fulminate against this latest moral corruption by a Godless Government. (And if you don't believe me about the eyes and cheeks, check out Edward Leigh some time*).

That's 23 Tories up* at 8.30 on a Thursday morning. The ONLY thing Tories get up that early for is a bloody good foxhunt. Maggie Thatcher's funeral wouldn't get 23 Tory MPs at 8.30 on a Thursday morning. So there's some depth of feeling there.

Some of the Tories' speeches were... hmm. Int-eresting:

Dominic Grieve: (Yes, that one, the member of the shadow cabinet... but here purely as an interested observer) If a website designer who has Christian principles is asked to design a website promoting gay sexual (gaysexual?! Does anyone still say that?) relations—about which, I wish to make clear, there is nothing illegal... ("...disgusting and immoral perhaps, but nothing illegal...)

Tim Boswell: The only way in which I can register dissent is by voting against the motion on regulations that, in a sense, I wish to proceed with ("... so I can tell my Constituency Association I 'did the right thing' in the hope that they don't read this sentence, while at the same time appearing all touchy feely to Dave".)

Credit where it's due - IDS made a very sensible and even-handed intervention which did him credit:

"We want to make those points in a debate and to tease those matters out. We want to be able to tell our constituents, “We tried to get this changed,” or, “We got it changed,” or, “The Government listened and modified it.” The debate should be about modifying legislation and making it good, rather than just railroading it through because it was conceived by the Government—who, by the way, are not always right, whether they are Conservative or Labour."

But, of course, the committee divided and the Tories (as opposed to the Conservative Opposition) lost. So, will they be out tomorrow?*

*(Not in that way).

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