Once again I find myself in an almost deserted Parliament on a Friday, for Private Members’ Bills. The second Bill up today is the Coinage (Measurement) Bill, which involves the Royal Mint, something which falls within my brief as shadow Economic Secretary.
To summarise – and I’m sure you’re all desperate to know the details – when the UK bid for the 2012 Olympic games, it gave an undertaking to the IOC that it would strike commemorative coins. After we won the bid, the Royal Mint agreed with the London Organising Committee that these coins would have a standard weight of 1kg or more (how big are they going to be??!!)
But…. under the Coinage Act 1971, which sets standards for the weight, composition, fineness and dimensions of coins struck by the Royal Mint, there’s a rule dealing with variations from the standard weight, which basically says that the standard weight must be measured as the average of a sample of coins which cumulatively weigh not more than 1 kg. Obviously you can’t do this if the coin itself weighs 1kg or more, so we need to change the law. And that’s why I’m here and not in Bristol yet.
Needless to say the Labour Party will not be risking invoking the wrath of all those who wish to buy supersize Olympic coins by opposing this Bill, which has Government support. In fact it’s what’s called a hand-out Bill, i.e. something the Government wants to get through Parliament but doesn’t want to do it through in Government time, so it gives it to a compliant backbencher who has come near the top of the Private Members’ Bill ballot. In this case, Mark Lancaster, MP for Milton Keynes. Something of a wasted opportunity on his part, as there are so many other issues out there which deserve an airing, and a chance of becoming law, but there you go – we need our big coin, and someone’s got to make sure we get it.
I have another couple of hours in which to write a speech on this. I think it’s going to be a short one. I used to have this video on a home made compliation tape. Think it might have been from Riverside, which was a great programme… New Order were on there, doing Temptation and Dreams Never End. Bauhaus, doing Bela Lugosi’s Dead and, I think, Kick in the Eye. There were all on my tape, which is probably in a loft somewhere in Luton. Why are we stuck with Jools Holland these days?