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In asking his Oral Question, Lord Palmer declares an interest. He does so quite self-deprecatingly and, more pertinent to us, quietly. Some peers hear what he says but we certainly don’t. In the majority of cases the mikes will pick up utterances that aren’t clear to us in the room, but we can’t run the risk that this will be the mumble that gets away and we’ll have to pursue the guy through the building later in the day, pestering his office with cries of “What the hell did he say?”.

So we send him a note. Standard procedure at times like this: tell us what you said, we didn’t hear you. And we get it back:

The doorkeeper who brings it to us says, “Lord Palmer said he wants to know if this is clear enough for you.”

I hope you appreciate the sheer level of effort that went into not sending him another note saying, “Dear Lord Palmer, please confirm the interest that you declared at Question Time this morning. Unfortunately the handwriting on the note you sent us was not clear—apart from the word ‘absolutely’, which we can see you mis-spelt.”

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