Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

The Conservatives continued in disarray after Mr William Hague, the party leader, sacked Lord Cranborne as leader in the Lords. The grounds were that he had proceeded without permission to arrange with Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister and leader of the Labour party, that Tory peers would not oppose legislation to reform the Lords if 10 per cent of hereditary peers, plus a few hereditary peers with particular jobs, were allowed to continue sitting and voting until the next stage. of reform was reached. This contradicted Labour party policy, but after Lord Cranborne went (saying that he had been caught `running in like an ill-trained spaniel') Mr Hague accepted the accommodation; Lord Strathclyde, the chief whip in the Lords, took over from Lord Cranborne under that proviso; others, including Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the deputy leader in the Lords, resigned from the front bench or from taking the whip. The Human Genetics Advisory Commission and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, both statutory bodies, said that human embryos should be cloned, not for the purposes of reproduction, but so that they could be used for medical experiments. Mr Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, proposed a 2,000 fine on lorry drivers for each illegal immigrant they brought into the country; this followed the rounding up of more than 100 Romanian gypsies who had climbed from a lorry in Kent, and then claimed asylum. An arsonist serving an 18-year prison sentence, who is campaigning for a royal commission on vivisection, lay dying after more than 60 days on hunger strike; fellow extremists threatened to murder ten scientists of whom they disapproved. Mr Jonathan Aitken was committed for trial at the Old Bailey on charges of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, John Chadwick, who with Michael Ventris deciphered Linear B in the 1950s, died aged 78. …

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