The words ‘Now a Major TV Series’ might profitably have been emblazoned across the cover of John Biffen’s new book. Now the cameras are at Westminster and the goings on there are brought to our screens with the frequency that schedulers usually reserve for Coronation Street or Neighbours, those unversed in the esoteric habits of the House of Commons will need a handy crib. Biffen provides just that – a helpful guide to the utility and significance of Private Notice Questions, Ten Minute Rule Bills, Motions for the Adjournment of the House and so on.
The danger is, of course, that this kind of information taken together with television will breed a new type of saloon-bar bore. Every oaf who until now has merely treated one to his own tiresome political opinions, will, after a brief skip through the pages of Biffen, think himself a proper Erskine May.
‘Right cracker of an Application under Standing Order No 20 yesterday, eh Bob?’
‘Dunno Ron, surely he must have known Mr Speaker would never allow the debate?’
‘But that’s precisely the point, old chum, it all rests on the understanding that the debate will never be called. It’s just a procedural device