An Afternoon Session in the Panopticon

As Recorded in the Official Record of The High Council of Gallifrey

Thetic 3 Melcus Re:1781OÆ

The High Council and Ordinary Councillors met in the Panopticon at half-past Thirteen o'clock

The Oath of Allegiance was recited by all present.

The Lord High President was in attendance.

[Gold Usher - in the Chair ]

Oral Answers to Questions

Athenican Autonomy – Financial Questions.

1. Lord Amycus: To ask the High Councillor for The Treasury [Lord Arn] when he intends to make a statement on the progress being made by the financial assessors about harmonisation of valuation practices for business premises within the city of Athenica.

The High Councillor for The Treasury [Lord Arn]: Good progress is being made in the discussions between the financial assessors and the Treasury on harmonisation of valuation practice. These discussions are expected to result in significant progress towards harmonisation for the vast majority of premises by Septima of next year.

Lord Amycus: That is the sort of waffle that we have had for months on end when we ought to have a real statement about the progress being made. Does the High Councillor agree that there will be a widening difference in business rates between the Capitol and Athenica in coming years? Does the High Councillor agree that the uniform business rate for the whole of Gallifrey should be implemented before any progress in granting political autonomy to Athenica?

Lord Arn: The High Councillor calls it waffle because he does not like the fact that we are making progress on this.

Lord Amycus: I call it waffle because that is just what it is. He has answered every plain question with long-winded verbiage which has told us nothing. We are assured there is progress, but we are not allowed to know what the progress is.

Lord Arn: The progress is ongoing.

Lord Amycus: The waffle is ongoing.

Lord Mandal: Can The High Councillor for the Treasury offer any comfort to those with business premises, including food processors and other small businesses in Athenica with regard to water charges in the coming financial year? Is he aware that in the southern city the charges are increasing by nearly 100 per cent and are a heavy burden on industry in the area?

Lord Arn: As the councillor knows, these are matters for the Prefect of Athenica and he should direct his questions to the Forum. The Treasury has sought to ensure that the cost of water is borne more directly by users in relation to the cost of its delivery. That has meant substantial savings to many small businesses around the country.

Lord Lessage: Is the High Councillor now able to make a positive response to the recent representations that he received from the Prefect of the Forum about industrial valuations? In particular, the value of diamond cutting factories in the immediate hinterland of the Athenican capital?

Lord Arn: As the Councillor knows, since he owns four of the six factories in question, they are valued on the contractor's principle. As a result of an appeal, the decapitalisation rate has been reduced on three of the factories. In addition, the High Councillor for Industrial Planning and the High Councillor for Environmental concerns have taken powers to prescribe a common decapitalisation rate if they so wish. If that is done, it will be an advantage at all stages of the diamond mining and cutting industries.

Lord Amycus: We are descending into waffle again.

The Lord High President, Lord de Lœngbærrow: Would the learned Councillor please bear in mind that in many cultures a waffle is a leavened batter cooked and served with either sweet or savoury toppings. I move that we refer to the honourable Lord’s long-winded and unhelpful replies as bafflegab instead.

Lord Arn: Is the Lord High President being serious?

Gold Usher: Excellency, are you being serious?

Lord High President: Yes, I am. All these references to waffle are reminding me that I had no time for dessert at lunchtime. Please use the term bafflegab at least for the duration of this sitting of the High Council.

Gold Usher: So be it noted.

Lord Reidluum: Does The High Councillor for The Treasury agree that, because of indexation, the Athenican business rates for the coming year will be substantially less than they would have been in normal circumstances, bearing in mind that the Prefect has increased expenditure by vast amounts--perhaps up to thirty per cent - which would have made business rates exorbitantly high this year?

Lord Arn: I agree wholeheartsedly.

Lord Gyes: Your unaccustomed brevity is appreciated by all.

Lord Arn: I was about to continue….

Lord Gyes: I was afraid of that.

Gold Usher: I would remind Lord Gyes that baiting the High Councillor is unbecoming of this Chamber.

Lord Arn: As I was about to say - the average increase in spending planned by the Prefecture is fourteen per cent for next year and it is much higher than spending in the Capitol. We have given the business community the protection that it needs from the depredations of high-spending local authority. It would have been a considerable advantage if it had had that protection over the past five or six years.

Lord Amycus: More bafflegab.

Gold Usher: My Lords, please remember your status and the dignity of this Chamber. We are not at the circus.

Lord Amycus: I am fully aware of that fact. I went to a circus once and it was far more interesting than listening to the bafflegab of Lord Arn.

Taxtion of Elderly Time Lords

2. Lord Dvore: To ask the High Councillor For The Treasury what representations he has had concerning Time Lords in the latter years of their thirteenth incarnation and their tax liabilities.

Lord Arn: I have received a number of representations about this issue.

Lord Dvore: That is reassuring, but does he agree that Time Lords of such advanced years, who very often suffer from memory loss and lack of concentration should not be burdened with tax liabilities. Would it not be possible for this vulnerable section of our great society to be exempt from such liabilities in their twilight years?

Lord Oakdaene: Is the High Councillor aware that the only Time Lord in the whole of Gallifrey who would benefit from such an exemption is Lord Dvore’s own father. He is seeking advantage for one of his own relatives.

Lord Dvore: It is true that my father is of advanced age, and is not in the best of health either mentally or physically, but I am not only seeking advantage for him, but for all elderly Time Lords among our long-lived people.

Lord Arn: These elderly Time Lords are also among the wealthiest of our people. It is not considered advantageous at this time to exempt such men from their tax liability.

Lord Dvore: Then the Treasury is hastening the degeneration of a great old man’s mental health as the question of personal taxation preys upon his mind. It is true that my father is wealthy, but…..”

Gold Usher: My Lord, are you finished speaking?

Lord Dvore: I am not. I paused merely to compose myself. It is not easy to speak on the floor of this Chamber about matters that are private to my family. Some of the High Councillors are old enough to know my father when he was in control of all of his faculties. It is hard for me to say publically that he no longer know the season of the year even looking out of the window. To see a man like that fretting over his tax declaration is distressing. Anything that might alleviate that distress….”

Lord High President: Lord Dvore, I will see you in my chamber after the session. I cannot promise there is a solution to the problem, but we shall at least discuss the matter.

Lord Dvore: Thank you, Excellency.

ASCL

3. Lord Coeus: To ask the acting Chancellor in the absence of his Excellency due to family affairs when he will next meet the Association of Southern Continent Landowners; and what matters he intends to discuss.

The Acting Chancellor (Lord Dúccesci]: I hope next to meet representatives of ASCL on the last day of Melcus to start consultations on the revenue support grant settlement for the next fiscal year.

Lord Coeus: Given the likeliness of full financial autonomy for the Athenican Forum in the foreseeable future, is it more or less likely that an organisation protecting the rights of rural landowners will still be necessary? Won’t the Forum fully accommodate the needs of these individuals?

Lord Dúccesci: I believe that ASCL is as much a social organisation as a political pressure group, but as it is a non-governmental organisation and purely voluntary, I see no reason to legislate for its dis-association.

Lord Coeus: When the Acting Chancellor next meets the president of ASCL, will he ask him about the recent meeting of the said organisation in the Athenican Forum and what was discussed at that meeting about the idea of an autonomous southern continent? Is the president aware that the temporary attractiveness of that deluded scenario has been caused only by the High Council’s continued ignorance of the needs of the rural landowners and that credence for that comedy of errors will continue only if the High Council continue their high-handed indifference to the real needs of the people of the southern Continent?

Lord High President: May I intervene and point out that the meeting in question was not in the Forum, but the upstairs room of the Athenican Opera House, and was an informal dinner before attending a performance of The Athenican Saga. Our wives were present at the social occasion. I should also like to point out that the President of ASCL is currently my father, and he would take exception to being called deluded in any way.

Gold Usher: Duly noted.

Lord Dúccesci: It is my understanding that most, if not all, members of ASCL, many of whom are also Councillors present here, today, are in favour of partial, not full, fiscal autonomy for the southern continent. The opinions of these honourable men were formed independently of any discussions under the auspices of ASCL, and their votes, when we finally reach that stage in the proceedings, will be made freely and of their own volition, without reference to any non-governmental organisation’s policy.

Lord Coeus: I agree with the first part of the Acting Chancellor’s remarks. I am indifferent to the second, and I strongly disagree with the third.

Lord Dúccesci: I stand by all three parts of my answer regardless of the consent, indifference or outright contempt of the Councillor.

Conservation

4. Madam Koceida: To ask the High Councillor for the Environment how many conservation projects are currently being promoted by his department and of those, how many benefit the landowners of the Southern Continent.

The High Councillor for The Environment (Lord Hext): The Environment Commission is currently promoting more than one hundred and seventy major conservation projects on land which is not owned by any of the major Oldblood families. This includes the preservation of silvertrees in the Mountains of Solace and Solitude. In addition there are seven conservations plans which involve areas of outstanding natural beauty which fall partially or fully within the demesnes of major landowners.

Madam Koceida: May we know the names of these landowners?

Lord Hext: The matter is not secret. These seven plans include the preservation of the flame trees on the side of Mount Perdition, which is wholly within the Oakdaene demesne, a project to monitor the quality and quantity of fish in the River B?rrow, which lies partially within or on the boundaries of the de Lœngbærrow property, monitoring of water quality in Lake Patriclian, which is, of course, wholly within the Patriclian Estate, the monitoring of Lepidoptera and bird life on the slopes of the aforesaid Mount Perdition, and of mountain lapin on Mount Lœng on the de Lœngbærrow Estate, the preservation of plains leonate which roam upon all of the demesnes of the southern continent, and a project to preserve the main breeding beach of the russet sea turtle which lies within a piece of coastal property owned by my own family for at least ten generations.

Madam Koceida: What, if any, financial benefits are there for these private landowners where their property is subject to these projects?

Lord Hext: None whatsoever. The preservation of our natural heritage is a privilege we all gladly pay for out of our own pockets. In some of these cases, in particular the breeding of the sea turtles, the preservation of the fish stocks in the B?rrow and the water quality in Lake Patriclian, the costs are wholly covered by the landowners. In the case of Mount Perdition, there is no particular financial outlay, but the Oakdaene patriarch has graciously allowed surveyors onto his property in order to make a detailed census of the flora and fauna.

Lord Gyes: Graciously? That is not a word normally associated with Lord Oakdaene.

Gold Usher: That comment is Out of Order and unbecoming of this chamber.

Lord Gyes: My apologies to Gold Usher for the offence to his sensibilities.

Lord Oakdaene: The offence was to me, not to Gold Usher.

Lord Gyes: I have apologised to Gold Usher, and therefore to all present. That will suffice.

Lord Oakdaene: It does not suffice.

Gold Usher: It will suffice. Let the matter drop, Lord Oakdaene, or you will also be ruled Out of Order.

Madam Koceida: Does the High Councillor for the Environment agree the Commission plays a vital role in the conservation of our indigenous flora and fauna and should be wholeheartsedly encouraged in that role?

Lord Hext: I agree wholeheartsedly with your Ladyship. Councillors may be interested to know that projects which the Commission is currently supporting include regenerating ponds in which water-borne insects breed, erecting bat boxes in the silvertree forests, managing rides for flutterbies, creating swamp clearings for lizards, planting broad-leaves for diversification and even building homes for wilderness otters.

Lord Gyes: Despite the fact that none of the otters are taxpayers.

Lord Hext: Quite so.

Athenican Assembly

5. Lord Bórusson: To ask the Lord High President whether the creation of the devolved Athenican Assembly would lead to a call for the Independence of the southern continent from High Council rule.

The Lord High President (Lord de Lœngbærrow) There is no reason to believe that allowing limited local government of the southern continent by an Athenican Assembly would in any way affect the unity of the Gallifreyan people under the High Council.

Lord Bórusson: Is the Lord High President aware that the High Council cannot continue to introduce legislation which is plainly contrary to the wishes of the people of Gallifrey?

Lord High President: It is not my understanding that the Athenican Assembly is contrary to the wishes of the people of Gallifrey.

Lord Bórusson: Then his Excellency should examine his understanding. There is a significant majority of Time Lords who believe this Assembly is the thin end of the wedge and the start of the slippery slope to dissolution of the unity of Gallifrey.

Lord Patrexian: Name these Time Lords.

Lord Bórusson: They are too many to name individually.

Lord Patrexian: I doubt there are more than Lord Bórusson can count on his two hands.

Gold Usher: Order, Order.

Lord High President: I have no reason to believe that any measure devolution or decentralised Government would cause any serious rift in Gallifreyan society. I believe Lord Bórussan is trying to create panic where none exists and create a mythical rift where there is none. I also believe that the use of the thin end of the wedge and the slippery slope in the same sentence is a fallacy too far.

Lord Bórusson: Nevertheless, does the Lord High President not realise that the farce surrounding the so-called devolution question has been a joy and a delight to all those who like a good free laugh on a continuing basis? Does he further agree that those shenanigans have shown merely—and overwhelmingly - that there is no consensus against the Government on constitutional reform?

Lord High President: No, I do not. And I am not aware of any joy or delight about the matter. Indeed, it has been met with the usual lugubriousness associated with constitutional issues.

Lord Gomor: The Lord High President will no doubt be aware that simultaneous dinners have been arranged in the Capitol and Athenica to celebrate - if that is the right word - the fact that the devolved assembly is to go ahead. May I congratulate him on not attending those functions, which is a welcome sign of grace on his part?

Lord High President: These dinners have not been finalised as the Bill has not yet passed to confer devolved powers upon the Athenican Forum. I have not, therefore, been formally invited to any such dinner. The congratulations, therefore, are unfounded.

Lord Gyes: Will the Lord High President be attending these dinners when they are finalised?

Lord High President: The question is hypothetical since no dinners have yet been finalised. But, should they be, as suggested, simultaneous, I would not be attending both under any circumstances. Even for a Time Lord, that would involve a manoeuvre called in some parts of the Galaxy The Flintstone Strategem which generally ends in disaster and in this case would end in indigestion having eaten two dinners in one night.

Laughter.

Security

6. Lord Machi: To Ask The Premier Cardinal about security arrangements for the forthcoming official visit of the incumbent President of the Haollstrom System. This question was answered under the Fifteenth Amendment (Galactic Security) and subject to the thousand year secrecy rule. Several Councillors raised supplementary questions on the topic.

It then being three-thirty Gold Usher called the Council to Order and adjourned the Session until tomorrow at half-past the thirteenth hour.


Kristoph arrived home at the end of a long day’s work. His butler was waiting to take his coat and pour him a drink. His wife was waiting to kiss him and ask him how his day had been.

“Tiring,” he answered. “They do make a simple idea complicated.”

“I saw a bit of the proceedings on the public broadcasting system,” Marion told him. “Lord Oakdaene was being a bit silly.”

“They all were,” Kristoph answered. “By the way, do we have any waffles in the house?”

“Waffles?” Marion was surprised. She hadn’t switched on the channel in time for that part of the proceedings. “I doubt it. At least, not proper ones. There are some frozen potato waffles that Rodan likes for her tea. I get them at Tescos when I’m in Liverpool. But I don’t think cook would even know how to make a real waffle.”

“I’ve been thinking about them all the way home – as well as a proposal to give tax exemption to all Time Lords in their thirteenth life regardless of personal circumstances or physical and mental health.”

“That’s an odd pair of things to be thinking about.”

“Yes, it is. I’ll deal with the latter tomorrow, but even before I get on with the paperwork just introducing a Bill into the Panopticon would involve, we – you, me and Rodan - are going to find somewhere in the universe where waffles are served for breakfast. What do you think?”

“I think you get some funny ideas in your head, but it sounds fine to me.”