Just had six votes in a row on motions relating to the 2010 Budget. There were actually 50 Government motions tabled, and each one had to be called for a vote, with the Whip saying Aye and then, unless the Opposition benches shouted Noe, things going through without a vote.
Most of the motions were self-explanatory, e.g. income tax, stamp duty, alcohol duty, but then it got more and more obscure. Motion 20was "Sideways Relief etc", causing a couple of backbenchers on the Tory benches to shout out "what's that then?" No-one replied.
And then we got to Motion 24, "Cushion Gas". Looking at the Order Paper I'm none the wiser as it simply says "That provision be made for cushion gas". Cue someone shouting out "Whoopee!" and both the Deputy Speaker and the Whip (me) finding it very hard to keep a straight face.
Somewhat late in the day though it might be, I feel I would be failing in my democratic duty to my constituents were I not to investigate further, and here's the least incomprehensible of all the explanations as to what we're doing on the cushion gas front:
The Government has announced that from 1 April 2010, all leases of cushion gas will be treated as funding leases and that expenditure on cushion gas will attract allowances at 10 per cent per year. The reason for these changes is that cushion gas does not wear out and the Government were concerned that it would be possible to write very long operating leases of cushion gas without ever triggering the long funding lease rules.
A vote winner if ever there was one.