12 APRIL 1975, Page 8

Westminster corridors

Nick Fitzfosse, who loves to shew upon Occasion all the little learning he has picked up, told us yesterday at the Club that there might be a great deal to be said for the lately espoused fernininist view that the Club should close earlier each night. It might, he vouchsafed, become a Doctrine of one of the Parties.

This, methinks, is unlikely, The Whigs never attend the Club these days as is evidenced by the attack made on the Whig Leadership by the "Young Pigs" (as jocular Mr Jeremy Thorpe calls them). The Tories rise so late that they would normally arrive at the Club just as business was concluded if the hours were to be changed.

The Ruffians, I suppose, might make this issue a Policy in their next Manifesto. And to this end, I am told, easy-go-lucky Mr Bob Mellish, the Government Chief Whip, has been taking soundings (as it is called) with the wives of Members of the Club.

A certain "mother of five" who also happens to be the consort of Mr Giles Radice, the Ruffian Member for Chester-le-Street, was heard saying to Mr Mellish: "We want to see more of our members." Which is probably a sentiment echoed by ladies through the ages ever since Helen bought her Awayday ticket for Troy.

Mrs Radice can, of course, speak for herself — or should I say for Mr Radice, But I should point out that some Members are so . . well, frankly, invisible that the less seen the better.

Be that as it may, Mrs Radice appealed to Mr Mellish (almost everyone does, and I must say that almost everyone finds Mr Mellish appealing in return) about the hours that her husband "put in" (as Ruffians call it, somewhat infelicitously I always feel) at the Club.

It was "hard enough" (the hours, I think is what she meant, though 1 may be wrong) on Members' wives normally. But with these "extended sessions" (on such things as the Finance Bill, I suspect) it was "no fun any more" (being the wife of a Member, I hope).

In a moment of affection and goodwill (two butts of Malmsey bring out the best in the Chief Whip) Mr Mellish promised the good Lady and her band of willing supporters (the "Garter Queens at Arms", as Mr Mellish called them) that as soon as the Referendum was over he would appoint a Select Committee of the House to examine ways in which more Members could be made visible.

"I never expected for one moment that he would go so far as to get up a Select Committee," said an excited and somewhat flushed Mrs Radice after the meeting.

She went on to say that the Chief Whip (no pun intended) strongly approved of her campaign and had promised that the Committee would be made up of "younger people". It is believed that these younger people (including Mr Norman 'Ruby Lips' St JohnStevas, a co-opted Member) would agree to the rising of the whole Club at ten o'clock each .night together with longer sessions and shorter recesses.

"The reform of the Club is essential," said Mr Mellish, who was by now in full swing. "It has got into the wrong hands under the last Tory Government." He hastened to add that he was not pointing fingers or naming names, but I thought it a poor jest at the expense of some of my noble friends in the Tory Party.

All this talk of younger people naturally turned my thoughts to sailing and it was with

great pleasure that I accepted the invitation Mr Edward Heath, a Mariner, to visit Gospol` with him to watch the work on his nevi barque, Morningcloud. This wondrous machine is contrived out of something fro, the Alchemists known as Aluminium.

She (or "it," as Mr Heath calls her for sd.7-1. reason) has the very latest in coffee-gr1twte9 winches (whatever they may be). Being firs' Briton and secondly a European, it was naturs enough that Mr Heath should turn to Snari4 man and Stevens to design (at great exnerise the fin and skeg sloop. My Readers will know that Sparkman 3-tit Stevens is an American firm of designers, with no holdings either in country or in Europe. Morningcloud's sails come from Australia. She is to be launchedt Mrs Margaret 'Harmony Hair Spray' Thatch in May. There was some talk of Mr Heath asking Harold Wilson, a retired Politician, to laurie'ii the boat. But Mr Wilson's dislike of boats arl water is well known and in any event his dig Paddy Paddy has not yet learnt to swim. Besides, e

Wilson does not like to appear in public the days.

His recent apperances have fooled lilt nation. While he has been locked in an attic Lord North Street, writing the sequel to Crossman's Diaries, his part has been taken uaY5 a "double" who, for security reasons, 11 assumed the stage name Alexander SheleP, This ploy was devised by the Prime Mill„10 ter's storm trooper, Mr Joe 'SS' Haines, W"r, once saw Mr Shehepin give a virtuoso perf!e) mance as an assassin in the long-rung; musical, The KGB and I, when the part of Jo of Andrews was played by the Duchess for Falkender and Mr Haines himself stood in iot Yul Brynner. Mr Brynner, apparently, was amused.

Tom Puzzle