6 MAY 1972, Page 9

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new Peers committee which is ready to hear examples of discrimination against women: summon that arch-republican William Hamilton, Labour MP for West Fife before you. Writing in a Scotch newsheet, to which he is a regular contributor, he referred to Mrs Sally Oppenheim as appearing in a "shimmering emerald green dress" topped with a coiffure which, the ungallant fellow implied, must have been obtained in London's West End at considerable expense.

Worse was to follow. He then stated a preference for another Conservative backbencher and referred to Miss Janet Fookes stating that she was his favourite because she is " prim and proper." This is a gross attempt by the grim Fife socialist to drive a wedge between the excellent Conservative ladies. Mrs Oppenheim and Mrs Fenner are as wise as they are fair. And what about Dame Irene Ward? If Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport were not unfortunately retired the matter would be attended to with some vigour.

I REGRET to report that standards continue to decline in the House. Someone has referred to Mrs Renee Short as Renee La Rue.

TOM PUZZLE is glad to say that Sir Bernard Braine is in splendid fettle despite the shameful way that he was passed over for government office. Apart from his work in the Anglo-German group in the Commons we will soon hear of a charity he is assisting — the SOS Children's Villages — starting its first village in Britain.

AMONG the chaps who offer advice to the PM about his speeches the figure of Mr Michael Woolf kneels a little further forward than most. With liberal views on prison reform but an unswerving love for his old regiment, he has just the mixture to suit the PM's needs.

But there is a snag. When the PM speaks extempore, Puzzle is reliably informed, he has an ecstatic reception because of the beguiling naturalness of the delivery. But during big political speeches, the wit and wisdom of Woolf often falls from the lips of the PM like leaden suet pudding. The solution is clearly that the PM normally talks for himself, and, on great state occasions, he writes the speeches, and Mr Woolf delivers them.

MORE on the social security benefits received by strikers and their dependants. That indefatigable pursuer of the matter, Jock Bruce-Gardyne, recently raised the question again with Paul Dean. Provisionally, the totals paid out in larger industrial disputes in the first quarter of 1972 was £153,032 to strikers and £5,516,708 to their dependants. More than half a million was given after work had been resumed. There is every sign that, unless the industrial relations situation soon improves radically; the Tory party will find this expenditure utterly intolerable.