Some 18 months after the "pasty tax", Westminster appears to be on better terms with Cornwall. Firstly, two Cornwall MPs – Tory George Eustice and Lib Dem Dan Rogerson – were given ministerial jobs. Now MPs seem anxious to speak the language. Or at least co-op some Duchy slang. It started when Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, urged Nick Clegg not to delay devolving power to Cornwall, or do it "dreckly". For the uninitiated, "dreckly" is the Cornish equivalent of the Spanish "mañana" – a vague notion which means some time in the future, possibly never. And it's spreading. The next day, Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, Kent, was speaking in a debate on badger vaccines and warned of an approach she described as "'dreckly', as the Cornish might say"."It seems that the word is catching on in the House," said Mr Eustice, the aforementioned Cornishman. So why is a Kent MP adopting Cornish parlance? Turns out her boyfriend hails from the area.
Eustice more in touch
The Government has been criticised for downgrading the role of the Farming Minister. After 13 years of Labour's rural negligence, the Tories promised to put the farming back into the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. But after the recent reshuffle, the job is no longer "Minister of State" but a more lowly "Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State". However, the man now in charge may understand more about the strife the industry faces than his predecessor David Heath, an optician-turned-MP. New Farming Minister George Eustice, Member for Camborne and Redruth, revealed to MPs last week how bovine TB wrought pain on his family. "They run a herd of pedigree South Devon cattle," he told Westminster, "And in the late 1960s, before my time, they had an incident of TB that wiped out more than half the herd and had a devastating impact on the family farm. My father still talks about it."
Turing's pardon raised
Gay MP Stephen Gilbert has spoken about how "hugely difficult" it was to be open about his sexuality growing up in a working-class area of Cornwall. And it was the St Austell and Newquay MP who last week pressed the Prime Minister to pardon the Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, who was found guilty of "gross indecency" in 1952 as being homosexual was, at the time, a criminal offence. At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Gilbert said: "Last night, Mr Speaker, you presented an Attitude Magazine award to the nieces of Alan Turing, the gay code-breaker who helped this country win World War Two. The Government indicated in July that they would move to pardon Mr Turing for the conviction which led him to take his own life. Can the Prime Minister tell us when that pardon will be granted?" The Prime Minister responded: "Clearly what happened to him was completely wrong and now, looking back, everyone can see that. I am very happy to look at the specific issue of the pardon and respond to him, but above all what we should do is praise Alan Turing and the brave people who worked for him."
Name calling no-no
Erskine May, the "bible" of parliamentary procedure, outlines what MPs can or cannot call their counterparts in Parliament. Among words deemed verboten are coward, git, guttersnipe, hooligan, rat, swine, stoolpigeon and traitor. And, of course, liar. Exeter Labour MP Ben Bradshaw very nearly fell foul during Energy Questions, when he asked Energy Minister Greg Barker why the British Government helped "Germany scupper a very important European agreement on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the most polluting vehicles". "We did not," was the minister's curt reply. And then something almost inaudible. "I think I heard the right honourable Member for Exeter make an allegation of dishonesty," Speaker Bercow mused. "I must ask him to withdraw that word. I think he used a three-letter word which implied direct dishonesty." Mr Bradshaw "happily" withdrew the mysterious remark. We assume it wasn't "rat".
Tweet of the week
Totnes Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston gives her views on the Press Royal Charter