Showing posts from November, 2008

A law that should be repealed

The more I read about the common law offence of “aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office” the more I am convinced that it is dangerously vague and bad law, and should be abolished. A number of journalists including Sam Coates and Matthew Parris in The Times and Nick Cohen in the Guardian have written very powerful articles on this. With superbly ironic timing, a case which had been brought involving the same charge against journalist Sally Murrer collapsed the day after Damian Green was arrested. Nick Cohen writes a damning and frightening account of the way that case was prepared here. Some of the reactions to the Green arrest comparing the present government to Robert Mugabe are a little over the top. But it is not exaggerating to say that if you could ask the people of my father's generation who fought and in many cases died to defend this country from Hitler what they were fighting for, some of them would have listed keeping this the sort of

Cross party concern at arrest

It is not just Conservatives who are extremely concerned at the way shadow cabinet member Damian Green MP was arrested and had his home and parliamentary office searched. I don't aften agree with former Labour minister Denis MacShane but I did agree with his response to the Green arrest. He said that the Speaker should make clear that MPs were entitled to hold sensitive material in the same way as lawyers and doctors, and added: "To send a squad of counter terrorist officers to arrest an MP shows the growing police contempt for Parliament and democratic politics," he said. "The police now believe that MPs are so reduced in public status that they are fair game for over-excited officers to order dawn raids, arrests and searches of confidential files held by MPs or those who work for them. "I am not sure this is good for British democracy." Tony Benn, not someone you would expect to rush to the defence of a Tory MP, said "I may sound strangely medieval,

The Daily Mash on the Damian Green Arrest

"The Daily Mash" has a satirical view of the arrest here. "THE PURGE BEGINS News - War THE Prime Minister last night began the elimination of his enemies as he pledged to cleanse Britain of the virus of dissent."

Statement by Damian Green M.P.

Speaking outside the House of Commons, Mr Green said: "I was astonished to have spent more than nine hours today under arrest for doing my job. "I emphatically deny I have done anything wrong. I have many times made public information that the government wanted to keep secret - information that the public has a right to know. "In a democracy, opposition politicians have a duty to hold the government to account. "I was elected to the House of Commons precisely to do that and I certainly intend to continue doing so."

Green arrest raises disturbing questions

Damian Green MP, Conservative front-bench spokesman on immigration, was arrested today, apparently by nine anti-terrorist policemen, in connection with home office documents allegedly leaked to him by a home office whistleblower. His home and office have been searched, but he has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. I have met Damian Green on several occasions, and I like and respect him. I do not believe for one second that he would have put into the public domain any information he had received unless he was convinced that it was in the public document to do so. For the police to arrest opposition politicians for releasing to the media documents critical of the government is not the way we do things in Britain. All governments have people working for them who disagree with some of the things they do and leak them to the opposition. All oppositions make use of the information. All governments get cross about this, and order leak inquiries. But it is unprecedented in Britain for

The Darling Tax

I am still fuming at the size of the mess the Labur government is leaving for the incoming government to clear up. Perhaps one of the new taxes that will have to be introduced to get the nation's finances back on an even keel should be named "The Darling Tax" to remind everyone whose fault it is that these tax rises are necessary.

Andrew Rowe RIP

I was sorry to hear that Andrew Rowe, who served as the MP for Mid-Kent from 1983 to 1997, has died. Andrew was one of my heroes when I was a young man. He was living proof that you could be a moderate Conservative without being "wet" and that you could be civilised without being soggy. I gather that he was also a very effective constituency MP. Rest in Peace.

Quote of the Day

"This year alone, the £78 billion borrowed by the Treasury is more than Winston Churchill needed to fight the Second World War." George Osborne

PBR = Preposterous Borrowing Requirement

PBR is supposed to stand for "Pre-Budget Report" but it could equally stand for "Preposterous Borrowing Requirement". In any complex package like the one which the government announced in the PBR, almost everyone is going to find some things they like and some which they don't. But it is the overall picture which appalls me, and particularly the enormous debt mountain. All governments will automatically tend to go into spending deficit in a recession. In fact, fiscally progressive income taxes and a social security net are often collectively called "the stabilisers" as they tend to take proportionately more money off people when the economy is charging ahead while forcing the government to pay out more as it goes into recession. This will tend to moderate both inflationary booms and recessions even before and additional government action. But for a government which was already expecting £30 billion defecit when they thought the economy was still growin

Misuse of the MPs "Communications Allowance"

The Lib/Dem MP for Cheadle, Mark Hunter, also PPS to the Lib/Dem leader, has been criticised by the impartial parliamentary watchdog for misusing his "Communications Allowance." Mark Hunter MP, who is PPS to Nick Clegg, was ordered to repay £500 after having allowed a constituency-wide survey on the NHS, paid for by the Communications Allowance, to be contaminated by party political messaging. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards concluded: "I conclude, therefore, that the way Mr Hunter deployed this survey in his Liberal Democrat newsletter was a breach of the rules since he was using the product of material paid for from the Communications Allowance for party political or campaigning purposes." He continued: "I do not believe it was a calculated breach. But this was more than a series of isolated misjudgements or individual mistakes. The evidence suggests that at its heart lay a confusion in Mr Hunter’s approach between communications with constituen

ICM reports an 11% Tory lead

After a week in which the Conservative lead in the opinion polls has ranged from 11% down to 3%, it bounced back to 11% in the latest ICM opinion poll. This ICM poll gives the party shares as: CONSERVATIVES 42% (-1) LABOUR 31% (+1) LIB DEMS 19% (+1) Practically every opinion poll for a year has estimated the Conservative share of the vote at 40% or above, including all the polls in the past week, but Labour has been between about 31% and 37% and the Lib/Dems between 12% and 19%. So the range in Conservative opinion poll leads in the past week - 11%, 5%, 3%, and back to 11% - has largely been due to different estimates of how support divides between Labour and the Lib/Dems. It is also noticeable that the media has given much less attention to the opinion polls showing the Conservatives still more than 10% ahead than to those with a narrower lead. It is worth remembering that if a poll has a sample size of 1000 or so, as most of them do, the standard margin of error is about three percen

Lest we Forget

Earlier this month on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Dat we commemorated all those who were killed or wounded in war. This week a plaque was unveiled to remember those people who made a special effort, sometimes at considerable personal risk themselves, to save Jewish people from the Holocaust. The official British government record in terms of effective action to protect people from being murdered by the Nazis was mixed. There were undoubtedly some enlightened official decisions which allowed many thousands of people who would otherwise have been killed by Hitler's regime to escape to this country, to America, or to what is now Israel. However historians who examine the record as a whole will always ask whether there was more that the Western powers could have done. That question will not be asked of Captain Foley, the British Intelligence head of station at the Berlin Embassy, who saved a very large number of people - probably thousands though nobody knows the exact number - fr

Quote of the day

"Alistair Darling could be quite a good Chancellor if Gordon ever gave him the job." Ken Clarke

Clarke backs Osborne

Ken Clarke has publicly supported George Osborne as Shadow Chancellor and disavowed those who have been suggesting that David Cameron appoint him instead. In an interview in the Daily Mail, Ken suggested that his name was being used in a dirty tricks campaign against the Shadow Chancellor which was designed to undermine the party leadership. He said that Mr Osborne was being "targeted in a personalised political campaign" and added: "I think my name is being used as part of this attempt to undermine George." Mr Clarke warned: "I think for David Cameron to replace George Osborne with me or anyone else would be a serious political mistake. The impression it would give of self doubt, division and sudden loss of confidence in what we have been saying would be catastrophic. It would be a triumph for opponents of the Conservative Party." Mr Clarke backed Mr Osborne's dramatic warning at weekend that soaring borrowing could trigger a run on Sterling. He accus

Lower spending increases are not spending cuts: 2

When I heard that David Cameron had dropped the promise to match Labour's spending increases, I had two immediate reactions 1) Given the increasingly dire financial position and Labour's reckless tax and spending plans, this is the right thing to do: it appears unlikely that the country will still be able to afford increases on the scale currently proposed. 2) We will need to be on our guard, because Labour and some of their allies in the media will dishonestly misrepesent lower spending increases as spending cuts. The Labour MP for Copeland proved me right on the second point almost instantly. A quick look at Hansard reveals the following question which he asked at this week's PMQs (Prime Minister's Questions): Jamie Reed (Lab, Copeland): "Constituencies such as mine are set to benefit from new schools, new hospitals, new health facilities and new social housing in the near future, but those developments will be put at risk by the public spending cuts from the Op

A wise man shows he knows when to call it quits

I have enjoyed John Sergeants performances on "Strictly Come Dancing" and I think that up to this point, he and his dance partner have provided a lot of pleasure and amusement to viewers of the show. There is also no doubt in my mind that the panel of judges rashly went "over the top" in their criticisms of him a week ago last Saturday, and probably perversely boosted his vote in the process. Whatever the judges said, John Sergeant's dancing performances improved greatly over the series and were fun to watch. His professional partner, Kristina Rihanoff, deserves some of the credit for that. However, in pulling out of the competition this week he has done something very rare: run with something as long as it was entertaining and funny but stopped before it became too much of an embarrasment. Perhaps as a political journalist he has learned a lesson from watching politicans, who rarely know when to quit.

Lower spending increases are not spending cuts

Because of the credit crunch which has already hit us, and the recession which even the government admits is likely, Britain can no longer afford the large increases in public spending which Labour is proposing. Labour's policy of unfunded tax cuts now combined with rises in public spending will mean even bigger tax rises after the next election if they win. As any reputable economist will admit, big increases in public borrowing, even if temporary, will usually mean that interest rates have to be higher than they otherwise would have been. This means that if the government is already borrowing lots of money, as the current Labour government is, a further fiscal stimulus (that's economist-speak for governments spending more) can "crowd out" private spending. That is why the Conservatives will no longer by promising at the next election to match Labour's spending plans for the first two years of a Conservative government. This does NOT mean that we are proposing to

MPs should be briefed on science

I broadly welcome the news that Adam Afriye MP, Conservative science spokesman, is proposing that Conservative MPs should attend briefings on scientific literacy under a plan to strengthen evidence-based policy-making. Classes explaining scientific method and basic concepts will be included in the induction programme for all Tory MPs after the next election, and sitting members and peers will also be offered the opportunity to attend. The policy is intended to address concerns about a lack of scientific expertise and understanding in the House of Commons and Whitehall. Scientific challenges such as global warming, stem-cell research, pandemic flu and GM crops are becoming increasingly important political issues. Making information available to MPs of all parties about the scientific evidence on these and other subjects strikes me as an excellent idea. This is not a problem unique to Conservative MPs - Professor Sir David King, the Government’s former chief scientific adviser, has criti

Quote of the Day: Ken Clarke

I'm indebted to Iain Dale for the following quote from Ken Clarke. Ken said yesterday that "The G20 thing is a bit of a circus. They decided they wanted more growth. Yes and we all love mothers too. The summit was held because all 20 of them wanted to use he word 'global' to emphasie that it wasn't their problem. I'm afraid they all went there for the photo opportunity and I fear the photo that they missed was that with President-Elect Obama."

Christmas Parking

I was hoping to be able to give details of parking arrangements over Christmas and particularly whether there will be some free parking in Copeland to try to bring shoppers into Whitehaven and our other shopping areas in the run up to Christmas. I am advised that "the question of free car parking in Whitehaven at Christmas is currently under review and an announcement will be made by the portfolio holder, Cllr George Clements, at Council on 2nd December."

When a government is past its Sell-By date ...

A good test of when a governments has been in office for far too long, is whether they are unable to take criticism. In particular, those who have become so accustomed to holding office that they see it as a privilege and not a right interpret any suggestion that they might have made a mistake not as criticism of themselves but as a disloyal attack on the country. E.g. if the pound drops 25% and the Shadow Chancellor makes some comments about why this may be happening and how to avoid making it worse, and the government accuses him of "Talking Down the Pound." You can't run a democracy on the basis that any attempt to criticise the government is immediately damned as disloyal and against the rules: that way lies the politics of Robert Mugabe.

Report back from Copeland Council O&S Management Committee

I attended the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee of Copeland Council yesterday. Mostly an admin type meeting dealing with the sort of issues which councillors have to address but which tend to send most other people to sleep. However, one or two issues which do have an effect on people in the real world did come up. Issues discussed included * How Copeland can feed views into the consultation by Cumbria CC about traffic in the centre of Whitehaven - prevailing view was that we may want to discuss this at an Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was noted that a lot of people may think that becase the consultation is described as being about Whitehaven Town centre it won't affect residents of less central areas of the town or other parts of Whitehaven. However, in practice it will affect a lot of other people. Those who shop in the town for example. * Questions asked about whether there will be free parking over Christmas. See forthcoming post. * Some

Conservative proposals on Post Office Card Accounts

Following the excellent news that a campaign by Conservatives and others has shamed the government into renewing the Post Office Card Account contract, this is how Conservatives believe that the card should be extended, helping both Post Office branches and customers. What does the Post Office Card Account do now ? POCA is a basic cash account run by the Department for Work and Pensions, which currently can only receive welfare, state pension and tax credit deposits. How would the Conservatives extend it? A Conservative government would expand and widen the role of POCA, both enabling it to accept additional deposits – including housing benefit and any weekly wages – and create sub-accounts which can be used for direct debit payments on a full range of public and private sector bills, including utilities. Based on evidence from industry, vulnerable customers ‘cost’ utility companies on average double the amount of non-vulnerable customers. This is because of higher collection costs. Th

Victory on Post Office Card Account

I was delighted to learn that the government has renewed the Post Office's one billion pound contract to distribute benefits, and abandoning a plan to offer it to the private sector which might potentially have caused the closure of anther 3,000 local post office branches on top of the 2,500 the government closed this year. Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell told the House of Commons that he was dropping the procurement process that could have led to a private company winning the Post Office Card Account contract, and that he will allow the Post Office to carry on providing the service. Conservatives and others have campaigned to keep the Post Office Card Account with Post Offices Limited, not least because this gives some real opportunities to enhance the capabilities of the card which would simultaneously help some of the most vulnerable members of society and reinforce the economic position of post office branches. Two million people had signed a petition and 265 MPs from

Keep Britain Working

David Cameron has proposed giving tax cuts to employers who hire new workers, in a move that will create an estimated 350,000 new jobs over the next year. Tax cuts worth £2,500 per person, per year would be given to employers who hire new workers who have been unemployed for three months or more. £2.6 billion of tax breaks would be given to employers in total – and this would be paid for using the money saved on welfare payments. The scheme would create new jobs, boost the economy and reduce the damaging social costs associated with unemployment. And, because it would be funded from lower spending on unemployment benefits, it would be revenue neutral overall for the Government. David called on Labour to adopt this scheme as soon as possible, stressing, "Instead of the Government paying for people to be unemployed, it can pay for them to be in work." He said there was a "clear choice" between unfunded "tax cons" from Labour and fully funded tax cuts from th

Consultation on Whitehaven Town Centre Traffic

I attended a presentation to councillors yesterday evening on the consultation which Cumbria CC is currently carrying out on options for managing traffic flow in Whitehaven Town Centre. The consultation runs until March. It will be presented to the public at several public meetings including: South Whitehaven Neighbourhood Forum, 7pm this evening, Mirehouse Community Centre Hillcrest & Hensingham Neighbourhood Forum, 6.30pm on 27th November, St John's Church Hensingham. Bransty & Harbour Neighhourhood Forum, 7pm on 2nd December, The Legion, Bransty There will also be an interactive exhibition at the URC Church, Market Place, from Thursday 20th November to Saturday 22nd November (Noon to 6pm Thursday to Friday, 9.30 am to noon on the Saturday) and an ongoing exhibition at the Danial Hay library in Lowther Street. The public can email questions or comments to Essentially there are four options. Option one, the minimum change option, keeps b

"Bonkers Tax Cutters"

I do not normally expect to find myself in strong agreement with John Rentoul of the Independent but he makes some very good points on his blog today here. Not long ago, any suggestion from the Conservatives that they might cut taxes was greeted with a barrage of accusations from the Labour party in general and Gordon Brown in particular that these tax cuts were not properly costed and that "unfunded" tax cuts (or indeed "unfunded" spending) was a disaster. Now after billions of "unfunded" spending to nationalise Northern Rock and more unfunded billions paid out to support the other banks, Brown is not only proposing unfunded tax cuts of his own, but criticising, yes, criticising the Conservatives for the fact that the tax cuts we in turn are proposing are not unfunded, e.g. that there has been an attempt to say how they would be paid for. As Rentoul puts it From punk tax cuts to bonkers tax cuts. I could not believe what Gordon Brown was saying this mor

Further reflections on Armistice Day

Standing in St Nicholas's Gardens, Whitehaven during the short act of remembrance which was held at 11 am this morning, in absolutely filthy weather, I was struck by how many people attended the ceremonies both on Sunday and today. And in both cases many of those were young people. As the First World War gradually slips from living memory into history, it my impression that remembering the cost of war is taken even more seriously, not less, and this is very welcome. As a small boy I was aware that my grandfather, one or two of my older teachers, and a few of the oldest members of the congregation at Church were First World War veterans and that many of the men of my father's generation had served in World War Two. My mother was a girl at the time of the second world war, but to the end of her life she could hold an audience of children spellbound by describing some of her wartime experiences. So even though I was not born until some years later, the presence in my upbringing of

Action to save jobs

David Cameron promised to do everything possible to help prevent mass unemployment in a speech to the Conservative Women’s Organisation Conference. He stressed that unemployment is a tragedy not just for the people involved, but for all of society. He emphasised that it "isn't just an economic waste; it's a recipe for social disaster.” And he said that, despite claims to the contrary, mass unemployment is not “an unavoidable consequence of recession”: “The Conservative party will not stand aside and allow unemployment to claim livelihoods and ruin lives on a massive scale. We will not walk on by while people lose their jobs.” David argued that we must show compassion during the recession, saying, “The authentic Conservative response to the pain of mass unemployment is a fusion of this compassion with responsibility.” He stressed that women may be more vulnerable to redundancy, as far more women have part-time jobs and work in sectors likely to contract. And he explained ho

The top ten irritating phrases

Oxford compiled the following list of their top ten most irritating phrases: 1 - At the end of the day 2 - Fairly unique 3 - I personally 4 - At this moment in time 5 - With all due respect 6 - Absolutely 7 - It's a nightmare 8 - Shouldn't of (instead of "shouldn't have") 9 - 24/7 10 - It's not rocket science Some of those certainly irritate me, although I personally welcome the use of "With all due respect," invariably used when the speaker is about to say something the hearer won't like. First, it gives one a couple of second's warning to brace oneself for the unwelcome comment, and second, by giving the courtesy of that warning the speaker reduces the extent that making the following unwelcome statement appears directly hostile. I'd substitute "getting on with the job" as my number five instead.

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Sunday. Like millions of other people, I will be taking part in a civic act of remembrance: in my case at the war memorial at the park in Whitehaven shortly before 11 am, followed by a procession and a civic service at Whitehaven Civic Hall at noon. Ninety years and a few days ago, Private Robert Whiteside of the Lancashire Fusiliers, my grandfather's brother, was killed in action at the age of 18. He was by no means the only military or civilian member of my family to die in one of the wars of the 20th century, but his death at such a young age, just before the end of the First World War, sums up the enormous and ghastly waste of life which those conflicts caused. Today is not the day for making arguments about the best way to prevent such conflicts happening again. Today is a day when all of us, regardless of our views about those issues, should remember the cost of war, including all those who have died in every country as a result of armed conflict, and par

Royal Mail should keep the Post Office Card Account

Alan Duncan, the shadow trade and industry secretary, says a Conservative Government would keep the contract with the Royal Mail. Writing on the Daily Telegraphh website he says: "The Post Office Card Account is the lifeline keeping what is left of our post office network alive. "If the Government pulls the plug and sends POCA business elsewhere, the whole network will be plunged into unmanageable chaos. "Gordon Brown talks of being a friend to small firms, but it looks like his Government is prepared to drive a stake through the heart of Britain's most iconic form of small business. "If he wants to see any future for post offices in Britain, he must award the POCA contract to Post Office Limited." Post offices have declined in number by 40 per cent from 19,000 to just 11,500 since Labour came to power, Mr Duncan says, with rural communities hit hardest. However Mr Duncan warns that "the worst may be yet to come" if Royal Mail loses the contract,

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes ?

Which is Latin for "Who shall guard the guards themselves?" and is a phrase that is usually written in latin because the issue has been recognised for so many years that it dates back to the days when more educated people wrote in latin than any other language. But this ancient saying seems rather relevant to another unbelievable but true story about what passes for national security in Britain these days ... The government has quietly released a written statement that reveals that thirty eight officials working at the Security Industry Authority had not received appropriate security clearance themselves. The SIA is the body which checks and licences employees working in the security industry. The failure to properly vet its own officials makes a nonsense of what is is doing. As Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve rightly said, "Thirty-eight officials have not been properly vetted at the very body hired to license those who can hold security positions in this country.

Armed Police check tax discs ...

Even in Brown's Britain, even with the atrocious Jacqui Smith as Home Secretary, could you believe that we would see armed police checking car tax discs? That's what was happening on the A595 in West Cumbria last week. In a letter in today's Whitehaven News a Gosforth resident writes about how he was directed by police officers carrying guns to stop in a lay-by with other passing vehicles. One of the officers glanced at his tax disc and sent him on his way. A spokesman for Cumbria Constabulary told the Whitehaven News "The vehicle was stopped as part of a joint six-week operation between Cumbria Constabulary and Civil Nuclear constabulary. It is called Operation Lace and finishes at the end of next week. The aim is to monitor traffic moving southbound on the A595 with an emphasis on driver education, enforcement of moving traffic offences and intelligence development." CNC is the nuclear industry's dedicated police force. For obvious reasons they are often arm

Congratulations to President-Elect Obama

I have found the US elections gripping and fascinating. I thought the field of candidates standing was the strongest for many years and that both the Republicans and Democrats picked the best candidate available. Barack Obama's historic election proves that the USA is a far more tolerant and open society than many people give it credit for being.

Nick Herbert on "Hate Crimes" and "Free Speech"

Nick Herbert, the shadow Justice secretary, made an interesting speech to the Bar Council at the weekend about hate crime legislation and how it should be operated. He put a case for the retention of these laws provided they are used to reinforce the legal prohibition of violence and promotion of violence and not as a means to deny free speech to those who are merely putting forward offensive opinions. Nick said that “The balance must always be struck so that people are free, and feel free, to voice opinions and disagreement which, even if objectionable, are not directly harmful,” and he went on to outline a need for a delineation between “temperate criticism” and “language which is so inflammatory that it causes harm or triggers violence”. He explained: “The balance which I believe should be struck in deciding whether a hate crime is proved, and which reflects Parliament's will, is – to use the expression in the US Supreme Court decision R.A.V. v. City of St Paul – that 'figh

Tim Montgomerie on what Conservatives stand for

Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home had an interesting piece at the weekend which summarised in three bullet points what Conservatives should stand for in the 21st century. His three key points are (1) We should not be resigned to the persistence of poverty in our rich and technologically-sophisticated age. The Left have run out of steam in the war on poverty. An alternative - conservative - approach to mending broken societies, rooted in the renewal of the Burkean small platoons of family, charity and strong local institutions, notably the school, is the morally right thing to do for the millions let down by state poverty-fighting efforts. (2) Only a stronger society will produce a sustainably smaller state. Small state conservatives have long tried to cut the supply for government services but have done little about the demand for them. You cannot have a small state unless a large majority of citizens have the skills and values to live independently of the taxpayer. That means a

The ASA should not tolerate bad science

I was disappointed to hear that the Advertising Standards Authority failed to uphold a complaint about an organic fertiliser company which advertised their products as containing no chemicals. The ASA's argument to taking no action was essentially that this inaccurate description was due to sloppiness and incompetence rather than a deliberate wish to mislead, and that there were probably no potential customers who thought that the company was selling hard vacuum. Well, they were probably right on both those counts. Nevertheless, I regret the ASA's decision to tolerate such a blatant case of "dumbing down." The ASA is supposed to ensure that adverts are legal, decent, honest, and truthful, and this one fails the fourth test. They should have instructed the company to clarify their advertising by using an expression like "no man-made chemicals" or "no artificial additives."

Come back, Mr Speaker, all is forgiven

The Speaker gets a lot of flak from many bloggers who think, among other things, that he should try harder to be neutral. But credit where credit is due, this week he sat on a number of inappropriate and childish Labour attacks on the shadow chancellor which were not within the rules of parliament. Quotes below come from Hansard via Conservative Home. Labour MP Lyn Brown fired the first salvo: "Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): I congratulate the Chancellor on the recapitalisation of banks, which has been admired and copied throughout the world, but was that task helped by the leaking of confidential documents by the Bank of England and by the hon. Gentleman on the Opposition Front Bench on “The Andrew Marr Show”? What does the Chancellor think of his opposite number’s judgment?" [Interruption.] Mr. Speaker: "Order. Did the hon. Lady warn the shadow Chancellor that she was going to make an attack on him?" Lyn Brown: "No, Mr. Speaker." Mr. Speaker: "Well sh