10 FEBRUARY 2007, Page 16

A time-honoured trade

From David Roberts Sir: What's all the fuss about selling honours? They've always been for sale. In The Inimitable Jeeves (1924) Bingo's uncle is raised to the peerage. 'A gracious Sovereign has been pleased to bestow on me a signal mark of his favour in the shape of — ah — peerage'. Later Bingo tells Bertie, `... that peerage cost the old devil the deuce of a sum. Even baronetcies have gone up frightfully nowadays, I'm told.'

David Roberts London NW1