13 DECEMBER 1975, Page 6

A Spectator's Notebook Wir Roy Jenkins ought in honour to

resign, hovvever much his departure from the Home ()Mee and the Cabinet might be regretted on grounds other than those for which he has been condemned in the Court of Appeal by Lord °ennillg, Master of the Rolls. His conduct in the television licence scandal was nothing less than the disgrace described by Lord Denning in a judgment of historic import. "The minister bed on the intention Parliament," said Lord penning. "But it was not the policy of arliaMent that he was seeking to enforce. It Was his own policy. And he did it in a way which was unfair and unjust."

. THis original demand," as Lord Denning had io

4an earlier passage, was "clearly unlawful — „ ril,i8Use of power ... His later demand was also :4hawful." Those demands "were made con n,LrarY to the Bill of Rights." The Home Office ad displayed "lamentable incompetence." k(Lord Denning was supported by Lord Justice oskill and Lord Justice Geoffrey Lane. Few tnanisters have ever suffered sterner censure. „ew departments have ever bitten the dust '4.,t,itte so Painfully. But will Mr Jenkins resign? i!irle answer is No. He is not the resigning sort. He h a taste for power; he likes office. The atteras will retain; but in exercising the he rs°rtrier he may perhaps be subdued for a while, "eh is his humiliation. For all this, much thanks is due to the Times and Mr Bernard Levin's incomparable camStill more is due to Lord Denning. '-'ngland has never had a finer judge. In him, the a,Pent.nle and their rights have a true champion, has shown over and over again. We are all ted to him. He deserves a national salute. to 1\11,r Jenkins, in the meanwhile, would still like °e

-ccreta thought of as a reforming Home

tJo 1.Y. He could best establish that reputawhn by reforming the Home Office itself, hi,,°se outlook and methods have landed him in hisiPresent plight. It is in need of strong nn iti , cal direction and the closest ministerial -atnervision. '-ord YOu'igeWindlesham, one of the best (and orist) members of Mr Heath's Cabinet, was star ally at the Home Office as Minister of Put;ie.' In his book Politics in Practice,

lshed he earlier this year by Jonathan Cape,

which his impressions: -a department which his impressions: -a department u ran..eh could be slow-moving and ponderous, nisa'ter defensive on matters of internal orgaalter Ion, and more than a little reluctant to diction . . . Despite the efforts of success* re of 14,1,1. by "dc 1" Home Secretaries, it is still a matter, the reproach that the average time. taken me rro, ..orne Office to answer a letter from a fou—r "er of Parliament is between three and to , Weeks, while members of the public have i;Vt even longer." is toc)deYaPart, Mr Jenkins has plenty to do if he redeem himself.

to good news that Mr Callaghan is shortly son—. ,re%t his Icelandic counterpart, Mr Agustsof its' ne latest 'cod war' is as ridiculous as any as Predecessors and should be ended as soon viouP_ icssible. Indeed the Government's beha, r s More unseemly than ever. Mr Callagh

an is fond of Palmerstonian posturing, but when it comes to it the British Government has lately been in the habit of climbing down: first over separate representation at next week's energy conference, now over the floor price of oil. Only at Iceland do we continue to shake our fist. But Iceland is — or should be — our natural friend. Technically, she has behaved wrongly in anticipating unilaterally a decision which will almost certainly be agreed internationally next spring. All the same, her interests and ours in reality coincide. Instead of sending frigates north we should concern ourselves with our own fishing resources. Which is more alarming: an Icelandic fishing protection vessel, or a Russian 'factory' trawler such as the Gorizont, Catching, processing and tinning a hundred tons of fish a day off the English coast? The Gorizont sank last month in the Channel. We cannot assume that all her sister ships will follow her example.

LI The "Keep Public Transport — No Rail Cuts" campaign which has just opened is greatly to be welcomed. Its aim is to persuade the Government to reconsider the apparently savage reductions in railway services due to be announced in the New Year and already widely opposed. The fuller the public discussion, the better. Beeching notwithstanding, we still have a fine railway system. It must not be dismembered.

ri Here is an interesting thought. Its gifted author is Mr Brendon Sewill, who was special adviser to Mr Anthony Barber when the latter

was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Like the rest of us, Mr Sew ill is disturbed — not to say disconcerted — by the volume of public expenditure and would like to see it reduced. While he would not claim to have found an answer, he has this to put forward by way of amelioration: "An Economy Tribunal should be set up on the same lines as the Ombudsman. It would receive from members of the public, and from public employees, suggestions for economies, large or small, in expenditure by central, or local, government. If a proposal was found practicable, and was put into effect, the Tribunal would reward the proposer with a tax-free sum equal to about half the saving in the first year. The Tribunal would not deal with proposals for changes in policy. It is important to emphasise that the intention is not to reduce existing services but to provide them more effectively. Nor — for obvious reasons — would proposal for economies be received from those directly responsible for a particular service. Indeed, where the Tribunal found an economy practicable, those in responsibility (who should have thought of it themselves) would receive a black mark against their promotion prospects. So even the setting up of the Tribunal would help to make all public servants more careful. "When I suggested this scheme to an ex-Cabinet Minister recently his reaction was predictable: 'Not another public board with its own staff and its own premises — that'll just mean a further increase in public expenditure.' His cynicism was justified but I have the answer. After its first year the Tribunal should be financed by a proportion of the savings it creates. This would ensure that the size of its own staff was regulated by its own effectiveness. If it produced no results it would automatically shut up shop.

"So the way it would work would be thus. Suppose you suggest an idea which proves effective in cutting public expenditure by £10,000 a year. The Tribunal takes £500 (5 per cent) to help cover its expenses. You are awarded £4,500 (45 per cent) tax free — and good luck to you because you have been far more use to the community than anyone who wins football pools or premium bonds. And the Government are better off by £5,000 in the first year and by £10,000 in every subsequent year. With that they can either relieve the taxpayer or give extra help to the old, the sick or the underprivileged."

What's wrong with that? Three cheers for Brendon Sewill. Not for the first time, he has come forward with a good original suggestion.

Now that educational methods in schools are becoming standardised, it was hardly to be expected that universities — ever conscious of fashion — would stand out against the trend. It is no longer easy to distinguish Oxford from Sussex, Cambridge from East Anglia, Sheffield from Southampton, Southampton from Leicester. The pattern has become an American one, despite the fact (apparent to anyone who has crossed the Atlantic) that an American university is a place where all good students go when they want to die.

At Cambridge, for example, all the talk at high table is of "co-education" (the final objective being equal proportions, which seems silly: girls are brighter than boys, and will run the place), and of student participation on university councils. There are even rumours that the traditional Cambridge system of individual supervision is to be replaced by lectures and group seminars. Yale could scarcely do better.

The students themselves have been infected by uniformity. The contemporary uniform is sweater and jeans; paperback copies of George Orwell are being carried this year in denim shoulder-bags; the hair of both sexes is neither too long nor too short. More serious, the students have given up parties, drugs and demonstrations on the ancient Oxbridge model and have started to 'work,' that is to say, to take notes and write up lectures; they are industrious. Not much scope in this for the Harold Acions, the budding Bowras or even the John Sparrows. Or is there?

[11 Tuesday's party political broadcast for the Conservatives, occupying what the television world calls prime time, was conspicuously bad, most lamentably so. It had no merit whatever. These broadcasts should be abandoned. They originated in an earlier broadcasting era, before current affairs programmes and news bulletins were as fully developed.

Television has many inbuilt, intrinsic faults and deficiencies of its own. There is no need to compound them by perpetuating an outworn convention. The BBC does not put out party political broadcasts from choice, nor does ITV. Both are required to do so. If only in their own interests, the parties would be well-advised to drop them.