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Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week

A speedy round-up of the week's news

19 November 2005

12:00 AM

19 November 2005

12:00 AM

There was much speculation about the import of the government’s defeat, its first since it came to office in 1997, on a vote on the Terrorism Bill by 322 votes to 291, despite the jetting back from Israel of Mr Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had only got as far in his visit as Tel Aviv airport. Some 49 Labour MPs voted against the provision to allow 90 days’ detention without trial; an amendment was then passed limiting detention to 28 days. Some commentators saw the defeat as a straw in the wind for the last days of Mr Tony Blair as Prime Minister; others wondered how he’d get on with his reforms of the health and education systems. Another bone of contention was the campaign by Mr Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, to get chief constables to offer MPs advice in favour of the Bill. Private companies should be allowed to compete to run poorly performing colleges of further education, according to a report commissioned by the government from Sir Andrew Foster, the former head of the Audit Commission. Copper reached fresh highs on the London Metal Exchange. The Queen told the General Synod of the Church of England: ‘At the heart of our faith stands the conviction that all people, irrespective of race, background or circumstances, can find lasting significance and purpose in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’ Lord Lichfield, the photographer and first cousin once removed to the Queen, died, aged 66. Mrs Abigail Witchalls, who was pregnant when attacked on 20 April by a man with a knife and paralysed, gave birth to a boy. A four-storey atrium is to be built inside Fortnum and Mason’s.

The European Court of Auditors refused for the 11th year running to give a formal ‘statement of assurance’ to the annual accounts of the European Union, which detail spending of almost £70 billion. Rioting by youths of North and West African Muslim extraction subsided a little in France, with fewer than 500 vehicles a night being set on fire, after the introduction of curfews in 30 cities and towns and a ban on public meetings. In the first two weeks of the riots more than 2,500 people had been arrested; Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, the minister of the interior, said foreigners convicted would be expelled. Since 27 October, 8,000 vehicles had been burnt but, according to a police intelligence group, 28,000 had already been burnt in the first ten months of the year. The deputy prime minister of Jordan said that the four suicide bombers involved in the atrocities that killed 57, mostly Jordanian wedding guests, at three hotels in Amman, came from the Anbar, the western desert province of Iraq that borders Jordan and is a Sunni guerrilla stronghold; a woman was put on television who had confessed to being the surviving fourth bomber, the wife of one who died. The al-Qa’eda network in Iraq said it had carried out the bombings. American and Iraqi forces attacked insurgents near the Syrian border, killing 80 in three days, losing three men and encountering 107 explosive booby-traps. American troops found 173 prisoners held in underground cells at the Iraqi ministry of the interior. Israel and the Palestinians agreed on arrangements for opening the borders of the Gaza Strip after strong diplomatic pressure from Miss Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state. Israel’s Labour party elected Mr Amir Peretz, a trade unionist, to replace Mr Shimon Peres as its leader. Mr George Weah, the former football player for Paris St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City, lost the presidential election in Liberia to Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated banker. Mr Ken Hasenmueller of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, asked the state department of transportation if it could give him a new car-registration number after he had randomly been assigned one reading ‘666-Ken’; ‘I thought that people might think I was Satanist,’ he explained.

CSH


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