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Chocolate Orangeman

This is Lord Laird.



Lord Laird is from Ulster.



The House of Lords receives around four and a half thousand written questions a year from peers. Of those, Lord Laird alone will have contributed over five hundred.

Lord Laird is convinced that there are many concerted plots to undermine Unionists in Northern Ireland, not least by cross-border bodies deliberately wasting money. This leads him to submit many, many written questions trying to unmask perceived or suspected injustices.

One issue in particular has exercised him over the past few months:

17 November 2005

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why presents were given to all members of staff from the chief executive in Waterways Ireland at Christmas 2002 and 2003; what were these presents; how much they cost; where the funding came from; and whether the use of public money is appropriate for this type of organisation.
Lord Rooker: In 2002 and 2003 all staff in Waterways Ireland were given a Christmas card and a box of chocolates (costing €5,310.68 in 2002 and £2,432.25 in 2003). The chocolates were given to staff as a token acknowledgement of the contribution and efforts made by them to the organisation in the previous year.

The funding came from the organisation's budget and the cost to the United Kingdom was €797 in 2002 and £365 in 2003.

Waterways Ireland's accounts for 2002 and 2003 were audited and approved by the comptrollers and auditors-general. No issues were raised on this matter by the auditors.


6 December 2005

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 17 November concerning the presentation of chocolates to all Waterways Ireland staff by the chief executive, who approved this expenditure; when was such approval given; and by what procedure.
Lord Rooker: This expenditure was approved by the senior management group of Waterways Ireland in December 2002.


18 January 2006

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker of 6 December concerning the purchase of chocolates for the staff of Waterways Ireland, on what date in December 2002 approval was given to spend funding on the chocolates; and for how many future years did this decision apply; and

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 6 December concerning Waterways Ireland and the purchase of chocolates for all staff; how value for money was ensured; how many quotations were received; and whether a cost benefit analysis was undertaken.
Lord Rooker: I am informed by Waterways Ireland that the decision to purchase a small gift for all staff in the organisation was made on 3 December 2002, and applied to 2002 only. The senior management group at Waterways Ireland did, however, give separate consideration and approval on 4 December 2003 to the purchase of a further small gift for all staff.

I also understand from Waterways Ireland that three quotations were sought for the purchase of chocolates in 2002. Only one quotation was received and the contract to supply chocolates was awarded to that company.

The amount of expenditure involved did not require a cost benefit analysis to be undertaken. It is believed that all the chocolates were eaten.


8 February 2006

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 18 January concerning the bulk purchase of chocolate for the staff of Waterways Ireland, whether approval was sought from the sponsoring departments.
Lord Rooker: Waterways Ireland did not seek approval to this purchase from the sponsoring departments.


1 March 2006

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Rooker on 18 January, why the bulk purchase of chocolates for the staff of Waterways Ireland in 2002 and 2003 was not recorded in the minutes of the board meetings, as indicated in the Answers.
Lord Rooker: My Answer of 18 January does not indicate that the 2002 and 2003 decisions were recorded in the minutes of board meetings. Waterways Ireland does not have a board.


22 March 2006

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 1 March about Waterways Ireland quotations for the bulk purchase of chocolates for staff, whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of all the related letters and documentation.
Lord Rooker: Arrangements will be made to place the relevant documents in the Library.


Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Rooker on 1 March, 18 January, and 6 December 2005 concerning Waterways Ireland, why the bulk purchase of chocolates in Waterways Ireland was not recorded in the minutes of the senior management group meetings as indicated in the Answers; and

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 1 March concerning Waterways Ireland, why quotations were sought by Waterways Ireland for the bulk purchase of chocolates on 3 December 2002, when the minutes of the senior management group meetings show no approval for such purchase was given on or before that date; and

Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Rooker on 18 January and 1 March concerning Waterways Ireland, why quotations were sought by Waterways Ireland for the bulk purchase of chocolates on 4 December 2003 when consideration of and approval for such a purchase had not been given by the senior management group on 4 December 2003 as indicated in the Answer.
Lord Rooker: I understand that Waterways Ireland does not consider that the purchase of chocolates for staff is a matter at a level requiring further approval by the senior management group.


Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Rooker on 18 January, from whom the quotation was sought on 4 December 2003 for the bulk purchase of chocolates by Waterways Ireland.
Lord Rooker: I understand from Waterways Ireland that quotations were sought from Fosters Chocolates, Portadown; from Holmes Cash and Carry, Enniskillen and from Safeway's Supermarket, Enniskillen.

Quotations were received from Fosters Chocolates and from Holmes Cash and Carry. The contract was awarded to Fosters as it was the most economically advantageous.



Apparently it only costs around £150 for a department to provide a written answer, so he's got a while yet before he can outspend the £5,000-odd that got spent on the chocolates in the first place—which I presume is what he's doing. Even if he eventually establishes that the employees of Waterways Ireland didn't deserve their chocolates, I really can't think of a more vivid illustration of the phrase “Pick your battles”.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
strictlytrue
Mar. 27th, 2006 11:32 am (UTC)
I really can't think of a more vivid illustration of the phrase “Pick your battles”.

Or, in the noble Lord, the Lord Lord Laird's case "Pick and mix your own battles". I thang yew.
webofevil
Mar. 28th, 2006 09:30 am (UTC)
Shame, sir. Shame!
alfaguru
Mar. 27th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC)
It will be a said day for humanity if House of Lords reform means that there is no room for lunatics in the upper chamber. They should form a pressure group to ensure their future representation is secured.
offensive_mango
Mar. 27th, 2006 11:45 am (UTC)
mmmmmm, chocolate
webofevil
Mar. 28th, 2006 09:32 am (UTC)
Maybe this is all that motivates the noble Lord. The thought of so much delicious chocolate is clearly sending him round the bend.
psychonomy
Mar. 27th, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC)
The House of Lords receives around four and a half thousand written questions a year from peers. Of those, Lord Laird alone will have contributed over five hundred.

Actually, just to menk it up a bit, the correct figures are:

4,876 Written Answers *so far* this year - that's up to last Friday - which is less that the number of Questions, because a substantial number are disallowed on the basis of Being Crap. Yes, even worse than Lord Laird's (although he's responsible for a number of those as well, of course). So the annual number is much, much higher. You wouldn't want to underestimate the value of the Written Answers staff, now, would you? They might get a chocolate chip on their shoulder.

Of the 4,876: 525 were from Lord Laird; of which 57 were about Waterways Ireland; of which 10 were about chocolate.

Sadly, after this early spurt, his overall percentage - currently in excess of 10% - is likely to drop. Shame. Still, he could out-bonker us all yet.
nja
Mar. 27th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
Were any of these chocolates orange creams?
lowlowprices
Mar. 27th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)
He'd soon shut up if he found they'd all received one of these.


A obvious gag, yesterday
webofevil
Mar. 27th, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
I refer the honourable gentleman to the title of this journal entry.
lowlowprices
Mar. 27th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)


(exhales)
webofevil
Mar. 28th, 2006 09:37 am (UTC)


(coughs)
lowlowprices
Mar. 28th, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
uitlander
Mar. 27th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
Could we refer his lordshipe to this site for all further chocolate related enquiries?
webofevil
Mar. 28th, 2006 09:49 am (UTC)
He'd probably claim the emphasis on Easter eggs was incorrigibly papist.

The chocolate sculpture gallery link from that page features, to my surprise, the first instance I've seen of chocolate golliwogs. "Honestly, what's wrong with golliwogs?" the sculptor was no doubt muttering to herself as she teased their fuzzy hair into place, Nick-Park-like. "I'll show those PC ninnies. Then who'll look like an idiot?"

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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