Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

The ban on the export of British beef to European Union countries was lifted on the favourable vote of ten EU agriculture ministers, with four abstentions and the opposition only of Germany. Mr Derek Fatchett, a Foreign Office minister, met 16 Iraqi opposition groups and urged them to unite and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Labour MPs cried 'hear, hear' and peers groaned in front of the Queen when, at the opening of Parliament, she announced the government would abolish the right of hereditary peers to vote in their House; other bills promised included one to deal in an unspecified way with trade union recognition, one to tighten up procedures for dealing with immigrants claiming asylum, another to impose new medical tests for those claiming invalidity benefit and a law to reduce the age of consent to homosexual acts to 16. But among bills missing from the speech were a freedom of information bill, which has been a Labour manifesto commitment for 25 years, and provision for a promised Food Standards Agency. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with the trial of a man accused of robbing Mr Ron Davies, the former secretary of state for Wales, after a meeting on Clapham Common. Law Lords ruled by three to two to uphold a CPS appeal against the High Court's earlier ruling that General Augusto Pinochet had sovereign immunity from extradition proceedings instigated by Spain. Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, visited Northern Ireland, where terrorists were still refusing to decommission their arms. Three Church of England bishops and two Catholic bishops wrote to Mr Blair, objecting that proposed party-list methods of electing Euro-MPs would make it 'extremely hard for people to vote with their conscience' because they would not know the moral views of the candidates chosen.

IRAQ REFUSED to produce documents demanded by Mr Richard Butler, the head of the United Nations force of weapon inspectors. …

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