31 DECEMBER 1994, Page 20

On the cards

SIR WILLIAM Harcourt was, so I learn from the Treasury's Christmas card, the man who laid down that ministers exist to tell the Civil Service what the public will not stand. Too many present-day ministers seem to have lost the knack, if they ever had it, or ever knew they needed it. Hal: court was also the Chancellor who so doinr nated and riled his prime minister (Rose- bery) that, when his government lost a slog vote in the House of Commons, he chose t.° resign. The subsequent election put 1°5 party out of power for a decade. When picking his card, I am sure this was not what Kenneth Clarke had in mind.