Those who follow these matters will know that each December somewhere in the world there is a Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Rio Convention on Climate Change. Here Government foregather to discuss, and frequently announce, what they are doing to minimise the threat of global heating, as it is now called.
This month delegates are meeting in Madrid, a last-minute change from Lima, because the Peruvian government is enduring very disruptive riots.
In December 2000, the 26th COP is to be run jointly by the Italian and the UK Government. As ever, both events are set to be chaired either by the head of the host government, or failing that, the relevant Secretary of State. The Italians have nominated their president to lead in Rome.
Earlier this year it was announced that the UK climate change minister, Clare Perry, would chair the UK event, to be held in Glasgow (which it is anticipated may still be in the UK in 12 months’ time.)
Eyebrows were raised in Rome. The UK-end was not to be run by the monarch. Nor the Prime Minister. Nor even the Secretary of State. Was this a deliberate insult?
Worse was to follow. When the UK Prime Minister changed, Ms Perry lost her job in the Government. A few weeks later, she announced that – along with many other leading Conservative women – she was quitting the Commons. But she would retain her role as chair of the COP.
Much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Rome, at what was obviously a calculated insult from the perfidious Brits. Whispers of refusing to continue with the joint arrangements got louder.
There is of course one obvious solution. Whoever wins the General Election, a new Honours List will surely follow. I am quite sure that should Clare Perry suddenly become the noble Baroness Perry, there will be an audible sigh of relief and of satisfaction from within the Italian Government. After all, everybody loves a Lady.