The Spectator

Barometer | 14 July 2012

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Out of proportion

The bill to reform the House of Lords looks like being another failed attempt by Liberal Democrats to bring proportional representation to Westminster. But where did the idea of PR come from?

— The first such system was proposed by Louis Antoine Saint-Just, a deputy in France's National Convention after the revolution. The suggestion was beaten down by Robespierre.

— The first public election by PR was in Adelaide in 1840, instigated by Sir Rowland Hill, inventor of the postage stamp, while secretary of the Colonisation Commission of South Australia. He was inspired by a system used by his father, a Worcestershire schoolmaster, to elect committees.

— Party lists, proposed to Geneva Council in 1842 by French utopian socialist Victor Considerant, were first used in elections in the Swiss canton of Ticino in 1890.

Golden parachutes

Bob Diamond, former chief executive of Barclays PLC, saw his parting bonus reduced from £20m to £2m. But you don't have to work for a big bank to get a pay-off. Some recent public-sector examples:

Ian Williams, deputy chief executive, One North East, an abolished development quango £374,542
Mark Pearce, corporate director, Advantage West Midlands £325,647
Oona Muirhead, South East England Development Agency £282,054
(A 'retirement' settlement, even though she had already taken up another job)
Mark Hammond, former chief executive West Sussex County Council £256,000
Andrea Hill, former chief executive Suffolk District Council £219,000

From the baseline

Andy Murray became the first British tennis player to reach the Wimbledon men's final since 1938. But how are other British players doing? In the 2006 the Lawn Tennis Association announced a 10-year plan for tennis. Here's how it's going so far:


10 12- to-18-year-olds estimated to be capable of making top 100

10,773 Juniors in regular competition

14 'A Matrix' players — 13- to-18-year-olds competing at highest level

2 British men in top 100

0 British women in top 100


41,860 juniors in regular competition

31 'A-Matrix players'

1 British man in top 100 (next is 154)

3 British women in top 100 (77, 79 and 99)

Source: LTA