His Ability to Fill Airtime with Verbal Padding Was Impressive

Daily Mail (London), November 4, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

His Ability to Fill Airtime with Verbal Padding Was Impressive


Byline: QUENTIN LETTS

SHOULD the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, ever find himself with some spare time - it could happen, you never know - he should be snapped up by the Radio Four gameshow Just a Minute.

Towards the end of Defence Questions yesterday, Mr Hoon matched the late Kenneth Williams at his Just a Minute peak.

He did not quite flap his wrists and say 'matron!' with nostrils flared, but his ability to fill airtime with verbal padding was every ounce as impressive.

Question Time lasts for an hour a day. The Order Paper lists about 25 to 30 prewritten questions from MPs. Seldom do ministers waffle past the first 15 questions.

Yesterday there were 24 questions. Several Hon Members were away on fact-finding missions/foreign freebies/hot-pash trysts with their pneumatic assistants. The House was not full. Business moved at an unprecedented pace.

The session started at 2.30pm.

By 3pm we had trundled as far as question six, about European defence policy. By 3.15pm we had reached under-strength regiments (question nine).

Just another normal day.

Then a series of mishaps occurred. We had the parliamentary equivalent of a batting collapse. Quite a few MPs who were listed on the Order paper failed to show. Their questions were bypassed. Faint unease fluttered across Mr Hoon's gaze.

Lindsay Hoyle (Lab, Chorley) was down to ask about the Hawk 128 Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft.

Mr Hoyle was absent. Bill Tynan was listed to raise the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft. Of Mr Tynan, plus several other question-setters, was there none. Ivor Caplin is a long-knuckled minister who, viewed from certain angles, can resemble a prehistoric caveman.

Across his broad brow formed contours that in Neanderthal cavespeak might translate as 'oggrunff ?' - or in modern English, ''ere, wot's goin' on?'

Anne McIntosh (Con, Vale of York) now played a dirty trick. York's tweed- skirted Miss Right, hitting question 13 with all her pert power, demanded to know what the blazes was happening with the RAF's new Typhoon fighter.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

His Ability to Fill Airtime with Verbal Padding Was Impressive
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?