Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

The Commons voted to lower the age of consent to homosexual acts from 18 to 16, except in Northern Ireland, for some reason, where in future only at 17 may either heterosexual or homosexual acts be consented to. The Government was urged to pause in its release of Irish Republican Army and Protestant terrorists because of the great increase in beatings and mutilations through shooting of civilians in Northern Ireland. Mr Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, signed a protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights, binding Britain not to impose the death penalty. Some people wondered who was going to lead the Liberal Democrat party after Mr Paddy Ashdown retires in June. About 40,000 miners are to be awarded L500 million in compensation for white-finger, a debility brought on by operating machinery that vibrates; another 100,000 might receive L1.5 billion for respiratory damage. Gross domestic product rose by 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, marginally keeping out of a recession. The deficit in trade in goods rose from L1.6 billion in October to L2.2 billion in November; the deficit in goods and services rose from 500 million to L1.1 billion. A new edition of Social Trends showed that 80 per cent of households have a video, 25 per cent a satellite dish and 20 per cent a mobile phone. The Most Reverend John Ward, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, was arrested after a woman said he had raped her when she was six, 40 years ago; he said he denied the claim absolutely. Admiral of the Fleet Lord Lewin, the Chief of the Defence Staff during the Falklands war, died, aged 78. Manic Street Preachers won the NME award for best band. The late Ted Hughes won the Whitbread Prize for Birthday Letters. The Queen Mother had her nose cauterised after a serious nosebleed.

AMERICAN military planes attacked missile sites and air-defence installations near Basra and in the north of Iraq; some civilians in Basra were killed. …

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