Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

The House of Lords defeated by 205 to 144 the Sexual Offences Bill which would have reduced the age of consent for homosexual acts to 16; they voted instead for an amendment by Lady Young to retain the illegality for both boys and girls of anal sex under the age of 18. The government undertook to push the legislation through, threatening to use the Parliament Act, though it was not clear how quickly that might take effect. As a curtain-raiser to next month's European Union summit in Nice, Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, made a speech at Mansion House saying `anything other than a constructive approach to Europe becomes frankly ludicrous'. Mr Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister of Germany, said that the summit would set the `keystone in the edifice of European integration - that is political integration'. The Mail on Sunday said it had seen minutes of a Cabinet meeting on 19 June 1997 showing that some ministers opposed the Millennium Dome project when Mr Blair wanted it pushed ahead. Police found a mortar bomb containing 2251b of explosive in a van at Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh. Train operators are to claim perhaps 330 million compensation from Railtrack for its closures and restrictions on lines. The number of people out of work and claiming benefit rose unexpectedly by 3,500 to 1,047,300. Mr Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he wanted to replace tax paid by people placing off-course bets by a tax on bookmakers' profits; the tax has been increasingly avoided by people placing bets with offshore bookmakers. A Sunderland market-trader prosecuted for weighing fruit and vegetables by the pound told the court that shrimps were being sold by the stone from a Sunderland Council fishquay. Prince Harry had a minor operation after breaking a bone in his thumb playing football at Eton. Frisky, the cat that appears on the opening credits of Coronation Street, died, aged 14. …

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