The Spectator

Barometer | 29 December 2016

Also in Barometer: dull landmark cases at the Supreme Court, middle incomes, and trials of the very old

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Supremely exciting

The nation awaits with bated breath the decision of the Supreme Court on whether the government can exercise Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without parliamentary approval. This is more exciting than the first day of the US Supreme Court in 1791, when six judges sat around all day waiting for a case. It was not until the following year that they finally got down to action:

— A farmer, William West, had held a lottery to try to pay off his mortgage. The winner, David Leonard Barnes, was paid in bank notes but demanded gold or silver. The case was decided on a procedural issue, not exactly boosting the court’s reputation, and West lost his farm.

Leader of the packs

A number of wolves were reported to be living near Paris. How many are estimated to live in Europe?

Northern Greece/Macedonia

5,000

Baltic states/Western Russia

4,300

North-west Spain

2,400

Italian/Swiss/French Alps and the Apennines

600-900

Slovakia/Romania/Western Ukraine

500

Eastern Germany/West Poland

150

Sweden/Norway

150

Source: EuroNatur

Middle wages

Mark Carney said the past decade has been the worst for real UK incomes in the past 150 years. But what about before then? The worst decades for real earnings since 1216:

Percentage fall in annual wages (2015 prices)

1526-1536

-36% to £1,667

1216-1226

-30% to £1,651

1306-1316

-30% to £909

1686-1696

-24% to £1,595

1566-1576

-16% to £1,995

Source: measuringworth.com

Halls of fame

An 101-year-old man recently went on trial on charges of historical child sex abuse. Some other elderly defendants:

Jack Mount, 97, was the subject of three trials this year on charges of historical child abuse. He was found not guilty in the first, not guilty on some of the charges in the second, while on others the jury failed to reach a verdict. His third trial, in June, was halted on grounds of his ill health.

Reinhold Hanning, 94, was found guilty last June of being an accessory to the murders of 170,000 people in his capacity as an Auschwitz guard.

Oskar Groening, also 94 at the time of his trial, was sentenced to four years in jail in 2015 for facilitating mass murder in his role as an administrator at Auschwitz.