With a couple of notable exceptions it was customary fare, though I'm surprised the majority of speakers were able to remain focussed on the discussion with that heroically proportioned pachyderm rampaging around the room.
There were a few snippets that I personally found interesting, though.
Face/palm moment of the whole debate, for example, must surely be this contribution from Bournemouth East Tory, and former Blues Brother,
Certainly the issue of preloading needs to be addressed; my hon. Friend Anne Main made that point. It is a disgrace that when Labour came to power the price of beer in a pub was twice that of beer in the supermarket but now the price of beer in a pub is seven times that of beer in the supermarket. Is it any wonder that people are loading up on alcohol before going to the pub, or buying alcohol in the supermarket and avoiding the pub? That issue needs to be addressed.Something must be going dramatically awry with pub pricing, then, considering that ONS statistics have shown supermarket alcohol prices to have risen over and above inflation in the past 30 years.
Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the periodHowever, armed with figures showing that the differential isn't really the fault of supermarkets, Ellwood revealed that the Tories have a cunning plan.
We will place a cap on the price of loss leaders in supermarkets and I hope that that will work.Good grief.
Labour's Gerry Sutcliffe then revealed that he could be related to Lieutenant George in Blackadder Goes Forth.
To return to the point that this is a general election issue, I am highly in favour of that. It is right that issues close to our communities should be discussed in public, especially at general election time.We're also highly in favour of Labour's assault on pubs being an election issue, Gerry. You're going 'over the top' and those whom you decided were less than human are manning the machine guns. Tally Ho!
And, as if to remind us that MPs aren't all stuffed shirts, Gerry rounded the ineffectual pow-wow off with a generous slice of side-splitting humour.
The smoking ban has been mentioned. Do hon. Members forget that the overwhelming majority of Members of this House voted for the smoking ban? I understand that there have been issues with its implementation, but we have considered best practice to ensure that the ban has been applied so as to meet policy objectives, as well as to find ways of supporting those who want to smoke.Here's that 'support' in full.
Outside smoking shelters in the UK are forbidden by law to be more than 50 percent enclosed. As the campaigning group Freedom2Choose has pointed out: a farmer who keeps pigs is obliged by law to provide them with 95 percent shelter. So the 12 million or more tax-paying British citizens who smoke are officially, legally, worse than pigs.Still, at least MPs are taking the issue of pub closures very seriously.
So seriously, in fact, that the the newly-appointed Minister for pubs stayed well away in case he became too agitated in his zeal to solve the problem, presumably. Or, as the guy in the natty black suit and trilby pointed out.
He says that he has a few ideas in his locker; today would have been the ideal day to open that locker and let us see what is actually going on. It is a little bit like someone realising that their glasses are in their pocket at the very end of their driving test; it is a bit late to put things into focus and it is certainly a bit late to impress anyone.When you're on a mission from God, it's always about glasses and driving, isn't it?