22/09/2004 - 1963.001
It is well known that
in England animals are more highly regarded
than children. We have the Royal Society for
the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) but merely
the National Society for the Protection of
Children (NSPCC). In 1963, when I was in the
Parliamentary Counsel Office, I drafted a
spoof Bill on this topic. I have just come
across it, so here it is.
To confer better protection
on children, and proper protection on animals.
Be it enacted etc.
1. Any enactment now
applying to animals shall from the passing
of this Act instead apply to children.
2. Any enactment now
applying to children shall from the passing
of this Act instead apply to animals.
3. In this Act-
the offspring under sixteen of human parents;
the offspring of any age of any other parents.
4. This Act may be
cited as the Children (Better Protection)
Why it was
a mistake to topple Saddam Hussein
seen as ‘backward step’
invasion of Iraq, far from triggering modernisation
(letter, August 24), has inflamed and emboldened
the forces of religious fanaticism in a country
that has been a secular state so far.
Hussein was not a religious fanatic. He was
a cruel and ruthless dictator but, nevertheless,
ran a secular state. He crushed those who
wanted to establish an Islamic regime on the
Iranian model. The forces of religious fanaticism
led by Islamic militias, which had been dormant
so far, have now taken over Najaf and other
parts of the country and will pose a grave
danger to the region.
terrorism must be fought with maximum force
and undivided attention. The war in Iraq was
a diversion from the real struggle against
terrorism, which is still alive and kicking
in the border areas of Pakistan with Afghanistan.
half the number of American and British Forces
employed in the invasion of Iraq had been
sent into Afghanistan to fight the remnants
of the Taleban and the fanatics led by Osama
bin Laden and his lieutenants, there was a
very good chance of defeating or at least
crippling the forces of international terrorism.
the invasion of Iraq was a backward step in
the fight against religious fanaticism and
international terrorism, and a gross error
of judgment on the part of George Bush.
Francis Bennion 27 August 2004
c/o The Reform Club,
Dear Mr Sehbai,
I am writing
about your important letter in today’s
Times. You have certainly hit the nail on
the head. I am sure you are absolutely right
in what you say.
your letter is written with hindsight, but
I can’t help feeling that President
Bush and his advisers (not to mention Prime
Minister Blair and his) really should have
grasped from the beginning the truth of what
you say and refrained from toppling Saddam.
the war, but I now see that Saddam acted as
a stopper in one area of Islamist militarist
activism. In the war against terrorism, that
was more important than trying to introduce
democracy into Iraq. I do not believe democracy
will work in any country where the ayatollahs
and imams are in political control. Turkey
is different, but things are now going that
way in Turkey too.
coalition can do now is try to uphold the
new secular government under Prime Minister
Ayad Allawi, and prevent the fanatical Islamists
taking over. I fear it is a forlorn hope,
though things may be better after the US and
British elections. By then it may well be
by Cricket Commentators
On 21 August
2004 Francis Bennion sent the following
three emails to the Channel Four programme
broadcasting commentary on the Fourth Test,
England v West Indies.
made three errors when covering the last
1. He used ‘criteria’ as a singular noun when it is a plural.
The singular is ‘criterion’.
2. He pronounced ‘schedule’ as skedule, which is the American
way. The English way is shedule.
3. He pronounced ‘debacle’ as debbakle. This word is of French
origin, and is pronounced daybarkle.
1. Geoff Boycott has just talked about conditions ‘deteriating’.
Surely he knows that the word is ‘deteriorating’.
2. Geoff certainly knows that the word ‘hand’ is spelt with
four letters. Why does he constantly speak as if there were only three?
trouble to mention the above if it were
not that there are thousands of impressionable
boys watching him. Does he want them to
grow up illiterate?
Dermot Reeve has just mentioned ‘latitude and longtitude’.
The latter word is ‘longitude’.
is no longer with us
Line criticised Paul Foot. Now I learn that
on 18 July he died of a heart attack, aged
66. With any other person (saving a few
exceptions such as Robert Mugabe or Sadam
Hussein) I might express formal regret at
such news. Here I’m not able to do
that. The reason is partly expressed in
letter. For the rest I will just remark
that the late Paul Foot’s virulent
desire, from an early age, to inflict maximum
harm on values which I and many others hold
dear caused more hurt than would anything
I might say about him now.
about Paul Foot and the thuggish Ricky
JUDGES AND THE BAR REALLY INDEPENDENT?
Line is the Union Castle Line
I am too indolent,
lazing in the sunshine on the Devon coast,
to compose a proper Line this week. So I
will just recall the day 45 years ago when
I sailed away on a Union Castle liner to
the Gold Coast, with my then wife and two
little daughters aged 5 and 3, to take up,
for a stint lasting two years, what used
to be called the White Man’s Burden.
anti-burglar Bill (drafted by FB) was debated
by the Commons on Friday 30 April
here for the text of Bill and full story
a man who despises his profession
See Blog FBBB106
of Multiculturalism stands on his head
See Blog FBBB103
in The Times
the House of Commons once again debates
university top-up fees. Last time it happened
I wrote Blog FBBB49.
As a prelude to this week’s debate
see Blog FBBB101.
of Downing Street
prove any more right than the Bishop of
Southwark did sixty years' ago?
England's cricketers tour Zimbabwe?
some ideas from the story of how FB got
Peter Hain convicted for interfering with
South African sporting fixtures.
FB goes back
60 years to the wartime days of Cyril Connolly's
literary and arts monthly, price one shilling
See Blog FBBB90
takes the road
way Britain's drivers get behind the wheel
takes up Sexual Autonomy
bombers mean the end of fair trials?
FB's Times letter of 13 February
Are Getting Above Themselves
(especially the North Wales Police)
Blogs numbers 28, 68, 69 and 71.
Rights a Danger to Law?
See the recent article by
FB in the University of New South Wales
question on university top-up fees
This week the
House of Commons debates university top-up
fees. They won’t be debating the big
question, which is this. Why are parents
expected to pay for the university education
of their adult children? For the full argument
see Blog FBBB49.
law reform - is anybody listening?
I was rather
rough with poor dear Geoffrey Howe in my
with the above title, though published
in 1993, is still highly relevant. Some
of the reforms it proposed have been brought
in, but most have not. The wake-up call
to the hapless Lord Howe of Aberavon has
come much too late of course. (He is, after
all, only four years younger than me.) But
others ought to be doing something about
Offences Act 2003
Offences Act 2003, which received Royal
Assent in November 2003, makes all children
under 16 criminals if they engage in any
kind of consensual sex with each other.
Harmless petting, smooching, groping, even
kissing, by under-16s with their age mates
is criminalised by the Act, already held
to be contrary to human rights. See