Lord Soley throws a strop

Lord Soley

The House of Lords is a rarefied place, where quiet debate is the order of the day, and ne'er a voice gets raised. Until, that is, Lord Soley of Hammersmith weighed into a gentlemanly debate about Heathrow's expansion.

Lord Berkeley began the debate, with the reasonable question, "Following the end of the consultation period, what are their latest plans for the third runway at Heathrow?" and the Minister, Lord Bassam, was giving the usual waffle about "strict local environmental limits" and what-not. Into the fray charged Soley, who, having declared an interest as the head of pro-expansion group Future Heathrow, said angrily:

"Organisations such as the Sunday Times and the Independent that are campaigning for the closure of Heathrow... might also stop doing irresponsible things such as giving details of how to get on to the roof of the Houses of Parliament and how to join organisations that want to do so."

Well I'm not sure I'd call those papers irresponsible for trying to stop BAA and Soley turning West London into Airstrip One. Perhaps the closing words on the matter should go to Baroness McIntosh, who jumped to the Indy's defence:

"My Lords, notwithstanding the rather disobliging remarks of my noble friend Lord Soley about the Independent, perhaps I may draw the Minister's attention to an editorial in that newspaper last weekend, which stated: 'In the opinion of many scientists, we can either have international aviation growth on the present rate or we can have a stable global climate. We cannot have both ... The Government should be blocking Heathrow from building a new runway on international environmental grounds'.

"Is not the Government's persistence in sticking to their current view on airport expansion making them look increasingly like the proverbial flightless bird?"