Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

Floods swept Cumbria after 12.4 inches of rain fell in 24 hours (at Seathwaite), the most ever recorded in Britain. Main Street in Cockermouth was more than waist deep in water. Some 1,300 houses were affected, and insurance claims were expected to reach £100 million. PC Bill Baker died in the collapse of the Northside bridge at Workington, away from which he was directing traffic. Six bridges were washed away, and all 1,800 in the county were to be checked, with the Calva bridge at Workington being condemned, separating the town by a 20-mile drive. The floods arrived a day after the government announced in the Queen's Speech that 'legislation will be introduced to protect communities against flooding'.

Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, visited the area.

Mr David Curry resigned as chairman of the Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee and referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner allegations that he had claimed thousands of pounds for a second home at which he seldom stayed. Scotland Yard sent the cases of four MPs and peers for consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service. A poll by Ipsos Mori put the Conservatives at 37 per cent and Labour at 32. Mr Brown told the Confederation of British Industry that 'we will see a major announcement' on 'a European network of train service that takes us quickly not just to Paris and Brussels but quickly to Cologne and Amsterdam'. A portrait of Lady Thatcher was unveiled at 10 Downing Street.

Sir John Chilcot began his public inquiry into the Iraq war. Mr Jonathan Montgomery, the chairman of the Human Genetics Commission, said he had received 'some evidence' that police sometimes arrested people in order to gather their DNA for retention. The Democratic Unionist Party continued its wrangling with Sinn Fein over the devolution of policing in Northern Ireland. A 400lb car-bomb failed to explode properly outside the Policing Board offices in Belfast.

The Supreme Court overturned rulings by lower courts that the Office of Fair Trading could investigate the fairness of bank charges for unauthorised overdrafts. The Bank of England revealed that it had secretly lent £61.6 billion to the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS last October to prevent their collapse. Britain's public-sector net borrowing rose to £11.4 billion in October, bringing total net debt to £829.7 billion, or 59.2 per cent of GDP. …

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