webofevil: (all hail)
2015-07-02 05:59 pm
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(no subject)

The United Kingdom’s role in addressing global challenges posed by terrorism, conflict, climate change and mass migration

Lord Selsdon (Con): My question to us all today is: what can this Government do to follow this up and which countries have historic relationships with their own area? I wanted to look up Scythia in the Library but we could not find out where it was; it was rather difficult. I looked out the histories of all the territories and frontiers. One of my favourite subjects is of course the coastal areas of the world and the sea, which is so productive. I have argued bitterly that we, the British, have the greatest control over the seas because of the 200-mile exclusion zone and, if we got together with the French, we would have 75%.

With which other countries can we help at this point in time to bring about a recovery in those countries that do not have enough to eat, do not have enough food and do not have pure water? We have all the skills within us here. The French have an interesting phrase, which I learnt when working with them in Africa and other territories: it is called grenouiller. I wondered what it was and was told that if you are confronted with an obstacle and you are a grenouille, you have the opportunity to sauter—to jump over it—or to go under it. I assumed that this was the origin of the phrase “frogging about”. But no: grenouiller means that you stir the pot when you are cooking a stew to see what comes to the top.

In a way, we have stirred the pot today. We know that it is not necessarily a defence of the realm issue, but it is an issue where we should be able to encourage those countries that were productive in the past, and were part of colonial empires, to be able to reproduce their food, their livestock and other things. It is not a big problem but I hope that the Minister will tell us all what this Government are going to do to take the lead in bringing about a recovery. Because of our geographic position and others, I believe that we have a greater responsibility than any other nation.
webofevil: (all hail)
2015-03-25 12:57 pm
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Selsdon Tonight: Ukraine

Debate on the Report of the European Union Committee on The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine

Full speech here ) Ukraine is a country that I love and respect. If any of your Lordships would like a bit of fun, I would willingly take you down to look at the old missile factory, although it is not producing missiles anymore. The people there are still nice. [Hansard]

Etc. )
webofevil: (all hail)
2014-06-30 03:12 pm
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From our own correspondent

With the situation in Iraq fluid and dangerous, the House of Lords holds an emergency debate on recent developments.

"When I went to see some of the people on Chilcot’s team—I thought they might like to look at the papers I had written [on Iraq in the 1970s]—they said no, it was not of very much interest."

Iraq edition )
webofevil: (all hail)
2013-07-20 09:44 am
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(no subject)

Here is the text of the story in today's Daily Mail about Lord Selsdon:
Most of us don’t have the time or the energy to reprimand anti-social drivers who drop litter out of their car windows. But it seems Tory peer Lord Selsdon has both these gifts – and good connections to boot.

In an extraordinary outburst in a House of Lords debate yesterday, the 75-year-old told colleagues how he calls his ‘friends at the DVLA’ to obtain the vehicle owner’s phone number. Lord Selsdon said he records the number plates of British cars when abroad if sees litter being dumped on the road before calling up his friends at the DVLA.

The peer claimed the DVLA would then use the details to find the telephone numbers of offenders before handing them over. But with a possible threat to data protection laws, the DVLA said it was trying to contact the hereditary peer before considering launching a full probe.

The Data Protection Act requires organisations such as the DVLA to keep the personal information they are processing secure and to have controls on making sure such information is not inappropriately accessed. But Lord Selsdon told the House of Lords that he found that British families travelling in large 4x4s to go skiing in the Alps were the most badly behaved.

The peer said: ‘I find when you look at the international scene that, believe it or not, some of the most badly behaved now are British families in large 4x4s driving to the Alps to ski.

‘They are the ones I've followed occasionally and, for a bit of fun, I've just taken note of their number and occasionally manage - because I have friends with DVL(A) - to find their telephone and I give them a ring.

‘I just say, ‘I'm sorry I happen to be involved in the political world a bit and it was noticed that at a particular point you did this”.

‘And of course most continental motorways have got signs every kilometre or every half kilometre or often more often so you know exactly where you are and so do the spies.

‘If the police themselves are deciding that they may be perhaps a little short of income for Christmas, the number of fines seems to go up.

'There is of course absolutely no connection between these two issues. But this is self-interest.’

Lord Selsdon made the surprise admission during a debate on a legislation drawn up by former journalist, Tory Lord Marlesford, which calls for anyone caught throwing rubbish out of a vehicle to be fined. Under the Littering from Vehicles Bill, a registered driver would be the automatic recipient of the fine.

The Bill, which stands little chance of becoming law, would require local authorities to publish the details of the contracts awarded in relation to its enforcement. A spokeswoman for the DVLA said: ‘We are writing to Lord Selsdon to ask him for further information.

‘Depending on his reply, we will then decide on whether or not it is necessary to conduct a full investigation.’

She said drivers were not obliged to provide their telephone numbers when applying for a licence so that in some cases the agency would not hold the details apparently requested by Lord Selsdon. The spokeswoman added: ‘We take our responsibility to protect information seriously. That is why information is only provided under strict controls to those who are legally entitled to it, such as local authorities and the police.’

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner said: ‘We expect any organisation handling personal information to have appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that access to people's details is strictly controlled.

'These arrangements must be effective in practice.’ [Daily Mail]
webofevil: (all hail)
2013-07-08 11:44 am
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(no subject)

Lord Selsdon tackles questions of identity and immigration:
Lord Selsdon: I have tried to search and work out what the level of immigration is. The best way to do it is to ask the immigrants themselves. This morning I was woken up as usual by 11 Romanian builders. I complained to them that there was a chap at the end of the road who was one of those who sells you the gold ring that he drops on the ground. You pick it up and it has got “19” on it and he says, “Can you give me some money?” and you say, “Are you an illegal immigrant?”. They have got to know me now. [Hansard]
webofevil: (Default)
2013-01-11 04:45 pm
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Lord Selsdon addresses the decline of the honey bee ) When I first met the bees on my grandfather's farm, I had a small teddy bear called Marmaduke, and I thought that by using that teddy bear I might possibly get a larger allowance of honey. That stuck in my mind when I was in Jamaica, and I was officially asked to help to reinstitute Jamaica's logwood honey business. And so on )
webofevil: (all hail)
2012-12-07 03:11 pm
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(no subject)

Lord Selsdon:I was not going to mention this but I am obliged to because I have to declare an interest. I have pointed out before to your Lordships rather light-heartedly that if no one else would do it, I would launch my own satellites for surveillance. I have done that twice and declared it in the House. The company has now been formed. It is a limited company and I am told that I have to point out that I am the sole director. It is called Evening Star; it has the greatest satellite technology the world has ever seen. [Hansard]
webofevil: (Default)
2012-05-24 04:45 pm
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(no subject)

Lord Selsdon "on" the government's policies on food security:
Lord Selsdon: Not so long ago I met some gang from Chicago who were very interested in all of this. Some of them wanted to speculate in the grain market and others in production. A lot of help, surprisingly, came from Israel. They asked me whether it was possible to produce pork bellies. Thinking of some of the prejudice of the Arab world to the pig—although the pig is a forager, and the Romans walked around with it—I was quite intrigued.
And so on.
webofevil: (Default)
2011-01-27 05:00 pm

(no subject)

Lord Selsdon: I hate “ism” words. I do not like tourism, fundamentalism or any form of “ism”.
What with that and his previous assertion:
Lord Selsdon: I never support any word that begins with ‘p’, or ‘PFI’.
... we can only assume that one word guaranteed to send the noble Lord into absolute convulsions would be “prism”.

(He began his contribution today about UK tourism with the confident assertion that “I like to go to places that I want to go to”.)
webofevil: (hmq)
2010-11-08 10:00 am
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Armada? No, she went of her own accord

When Parliament burnt down in 1834, there was never any hope of saving the Armada tapestries. Commissioned to commemorate England’s narrow escape from the Spanish onslaught in 1588, the 10 tapestries portrayed each crucial stage of the Armada’s advance and defeat at the hands of both the British and, primarily, the weather. Eight of them hung in the chamber of the House of Lords for more than 200 years; there wasn’t room for all of them, as each was fully 14 feet tall and around 23 feet wide. By the time the fire was discovered, it was never going to be possible to rescue them and they were abandoned to the flames.

However, a project to recreate the tapestries from detailed engravings of the originals has now been completed, and 10 new paintings of the same scenes were recently unveiled. On Thursday a reception was held in the House of Lords to commemorate this restoration project, hosted by a peer for whom sea travel and trade is the subject closest to his heart. More than 200 guests from “the British maritime sector” were invited, along with a number of sea cadets and House staff, to hear presentations on naval and maritime matters and on the tapestries themselves. The final presentation—the headline act, really—was a speech by the host himself on “The prosecution of British overseas trade”. The host was Lord Selsdon.
Lord Selsdon: My Lords, ladies and gentlemen, I have always been in this position. I have always spent my life involved in trade, the development of trade, and amongst the seafaring community I always sat below the salt. I really love the sea; it’s in my blood, and all my family have died at sea. We all leave in our testament that we know the latitude and longitude of our graves or of where we die. If I die today, the latitude and longitude of this place will be on my grave, if someone were able to navigate to it.
After the presentations, there was due to be half an hour or so of mingling and canapés with even more guests in the Royal Gallery before an unusual and touching ceremony took place. Lord Howard of Effingham, Lord High Admiral in 1588, removed a bell from one of the ships that attacked the Spanish fleet and kept it as a trophy. Lord Selsdon described its subsequent history:
It remained there for a while but then it went somewhere else and then fell down from a tower.
Whatever exactly happened, the bell ended up in the family of Lord Northbrook. Lord Selsdon recently discovered this and was allowed to bring it to London to be restored, and on Thursday evening, for the first time since 1588, the bell was to be rung at 6pm precisely to mark the end of the first “dog watch”.

Before that, though, the guests were presented with wine grown in a French vineyard that Lord Selsdon has been known to claim has been in his family since the second century BC, although during his speech he said merely that,
... originally rosé was shipped in the second century BC to the United Kingdom, encouraged by Eleanor of Provence who of course was the mother of Edward I who built this place, and therefore the rosé has a certain significance.
The guests were intently sampling the rosé at 5.50 when we all gradually became aware of a plaintive, sonorous melody, as if someone at the other end of the Royal Gallery had started to sing a psalm. When enough conversations had subsided, though, it became apparent that actually it was Lord Selsdon speaking, but a combination of a gentle speaking voice and a lack of direct mike technique meant that no-one more than four metres away from him had even a sporting chance of understanding what he was saying. A couple of times there was a cry of “Speak up!” and he would lean forward into the mike, but he would give up after a few words and revert to a conversational tone.

Lord Selsdon was standing on a small dais, flanked by a chaplain and Admiral the Lord Boyce. Nearby stood the newly christened “Armada Bell”, flanked by two House of Lords carpenters dressed as 16th-century shipwrights [see illustration]. A semicircle of sea cadets surrounded this small tableau, with the guests packed in behind them. With everything happening at floor height and with Lord Selsdon’s voice not carrying beyond the middle of the room, many of the guests at the far end of the Royal Gallery could neither see nor hear what was going on at any point of the ceremony. At several key moments they were unaware that the ceremony was even going on at all, drinking and chattering obliviously. Lord Selsdon couldn’t understand it—this seemed to be the height of rudeness—but he ploughed on, unbowed and, in many cases, unheard.

“I have a special guest here this evening,” he said. ‘Could we bring him in, please?” A spaniel, one of the sniffer dogs used for security checks in the Lords chamber, was led in by his handler. “What’s the point of a dog watch,” Lord Selsdon asked his audience rhetorically, “if there’s no dog to watch?”

It was crucial that the timing of the ceremony be split-second. Every day at the start of proceedings in the Lords chamber, the Lord Speaker processes in along with Black Rod and a doorkeeper who is carrying the mace. She takes her position by the woolsack, and at the moment that the bishop on duty says the first word of that day’s prayers, Big Ben strikes. This aspect of Lord procedure appeals to Lord Selsdon immensely and he was very keen that the same precision be applied to his ceremony, but for that to be a certainty he had to be able to hear Big Ben. “Could you all be quiet, please?” he asked a couple of times, but the hubbub from the other end continued unabated. “WAAAAGH!” he yelled suddenly into the mike. The room fell silent.

“Thank you,” he said. He looked at his watch, slightly puzzled. “Now, I’ve got a feeling my watch might be a little fast…” Suddenly I had an explanation for why, when I could have sworn that I had arrived at the reception on the nose of 4.30, I had already missed Lord Selsdon’s introduction and half the opening speech. “So,” he continued, “if you could all remain silent, we should be ready in about three minutes.” I have to report that the 300 guests did not remain silent for three minutes.

“WAAAAAGH!” cried Lord Selsdon again, at fifteen seconds to six. The crowd quietened down. The artist in charge of the Armada tapestries project stepped solemnly forward and waited. As the first chime sounded he rang four bells, in two groups of two. The semicircle of sea cadets dropped to the floor in unison, crouching on one knee, where they stayed for about 10 minutes.

Lord Selsdon stepped down from his dais, handing over to the chaplain to read a couple of suitably naval prayers. Clearly and crisply, the chaplain’s voice intoned the first intelligible sentences that much of the throng had been exposed to since entering the gallery. As he detailed which prayers he was going to read out and why, the sniffer spaniel was getting increasingly excited. His handler tried every technique to calm his animal down but none of them were working. The chaplain began his first prayer. “O Lord,” he began. The spaniel started barking loudly in delight, visibly startling many of the furthest-flung guests who were unaware that a dog was even present in the first place. The chaplain, however, was a pro, and he continued smoothly while the handler guided his excitable charge outside.

The remainder of the event passed off without misadventure; the cadets were eventually allowed to get up, a couple more speeches were made and a new coat of arms was presented, and the crowd slowly dispersed. For many of them this will have been their first exposure to Lord Selsdon’s unique oratory, and I can’t think of a better introduction to it. Although devoid of most of its accompanying pictures, for those who wish and have the time, his speech is reproduced below.

The Prosecution of British Overseas Trade )
webofevil: (Default)
2009-12-10 03:05 pm
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(no subject)

Lord Selsdon on “the Commonwealth’s shared goals in democracy and development”:
Lord Selsdon: In the debate on the Queen’s Speech I made certain suggestions. I have learnt in your Lordships’ House that if you want to get anything done at all it takes 10 to 15 years, like some good wines. So I have used what I call the “rule of thumb”. It is extremely useful. If you want to know where you are when you are sailing with a rather bad map, you put your thumb on the coastline and stay outside the width of your thumb. If you want to know where and how deep to plant things on land, wherever it may be, you stick your thumb in the ground. If you want to know how far away you are from other people—for example, from the noble Lord, Lord Luce, although I am not allowed to gesture in your Lordships’ House—you hold up your thumb and shut one eye, and you will see that it will move to the right. You work out how many fingers that is, and that will tell you how far offshore you are.

The theme I want to adopt today is to state further that when you look at the Commonwealth, you should first of all look at it from space. (etc)[Hansard]
Immediately after the words “how offshore you are”, the camera in the chamber cut to the aforementioned Lord Luce just as he said very clearly to the Peer next to him, “Is this relevant?”
webofevil: (Default)
2009-11-24 12:04 pm
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(no subject)

Lord Selsdon in fine form responding to the Queen's Speech:
Lord Selsdon: I would like your Lordships to know, and I am sure that the Minister would be willing to agree with this, that I have put in hand a preliminary order for six surveillance satellites from the United Kingdom, possibly in co-operation with Nigeria and India which are also in that business, and possibly also the Russians.
Lord Selsdon: I have a number of weaknesses; one is that I hate mirrors. I sometimes shave in the morning without looking in the mirror, because a mirror confuses me.

The speech in full
webofevil: (Default)
2009-09-10 11:39 am

(no subject)

It’s 1993 and the House of Lords is in the middle of a marathon debate about whether to ratify the Maastricht treaty:
Another hereditary peer, Lord Selsdon, there thanks to his grandfather having been Postmaster General in 1924, got up to tell the House he had meant to read out a speech he had made twenty years before but that he had left his glasses at home. He couldn’t really make up his mind about Europe, but he thought it was a very tedious debate and offered a humorous contribution. Did their Lordships know that the word ‘Maas’ in Afrikaans meant sour milk? He also reminded them of a hugely amusing postcard he had once seen, showing a little girl looking down a little boy’s swimming trunks and saying, “Vive la difference”.

John Wells, The House of Lords
webofevil: (Default)
2009-05-01 11:26 am
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He’s still got it

From yesterday’s armed forces debate:
Lord Selsdon: The biggest single growth area of GDP, surprisingly enough, is the health service. The public sector is what it is all about today, and that is wrong. If unemployment is rising and we need to stimulate demand, let us not give people £2,000 to scrap an old car; let us spend a bit more of the reserves on creating forces. Let us not just train university students in boats on the Thames; let us put them together and send them out in gunboats. After all, I went to sea as an officer in the Navy after only 90 days’ basic training, which I think was due to a technological error.
webofevil: (Default)
2008-12-17 12:00 pm
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The story so far: the noble Lord trained many years ago at the Midland Bank.
Lord Selsdon: In the merchant banking side you could be called an “esq”—I was known as “Lord Esq”—but you had to be a “mister” in the bank; you could not be an esquire because you were not landed. These people knew their job. You would be asked, “Have you been there?”—that meant that you could not lend to anybody unless you had been to the country in the last 90 days, or unless you or the manager had visited the client in the last day. You had to know thy customer. Then, if they were not sure about it, they would introduce a strange phrase ... “Committee, I think we are not sure enough. I think it should be an FFW”. I did not know what an FFW was and I did not dare go and ask other people. Quietly, I asked how long we had been using the term “FFW”. “Oh, before my time, my dear chap, way before my time”.

I then found out that only Midland had it. It was a “fair following wind”. It meant that, if the project stacked up, the agreement, in principle, would follow. That FFW would read as Project MJ223B and so on, FFW-ed. The governor of the central bank of wherever it was in the world knew that he had got Midland on side. That was almost like the traditional handshake.

... I dealt with the more difficult countries because I was not important enough to deal with the easy countries. I was asked to help Bhutan. Bhutan wanted a new aircraft. As our esteemed customer was Hawker Siddeley, where the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, worked, I suggested that it should have an HS125. When I put forward the proposal to the credit committee, I was asked whether we had been to Bhutan. We had not, but by chance, the night before I had met the Queen of Bhutan in Fulham and helped to push-start her MG. So I said, “I have met the Queen of Bhutan”. The committee said, “Hmm. Perhaps. FFW-ed”, and Bhutan got the plane. [Hansard]
webofevil: (rockfall)
2007-01-08 12:58 pm
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Fans of Lord Selsdon may recall his stated aversion to words beginning with the letter P.

The cover of Propaganda’s 1985 twelve-inch “p:Machinery” seems to have been designed specifically to wind him up:


... although, thankfully for him, at least none of the words actually begin with "PFI".
webofevil: (Default)
2006-11-03 04:00 pm


Lord Selsdon is exercised, in his own way, about the Government’s catastrophically costly private finance initiative programme:
Lord Selsdon: Have the Government effectively mortgaged their souls and bodies for the future? The word mortgage means death grasp or death wish. I am concerned about that as an ex-banker, because I never support any word that begins with ‘p’, or ‘PFI’.
webofevil: (Default)
2006-06-22 12:59 pm
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Don't worry your pretty little heads

Women! It must be a great relief to discover that Lord Selsdon is on your side:

Lord Selsdon: This is the greatest proportion of women who have ever spoken in a debate in your Lordships’ House, and having a great admiration and affection for women, I feel humbled and fully supportive... My mother happened to be the first woman Lord Mayor, which is where my support for women may partly come from.