Barnsley's looking for a job

Barnsley Bill is looking for a job. He reckons that he might enjoy a posting at the Parliamentary Library. I think he is most unsuited to such a position, might I suggest he looks at lawn mowing.

As Margaret Wilson noted in a speech to launch a book on the 150th Anniversary of the Parliamentary Library;

Since 1858 the Parliamentary Library’s role has been to provide information to Parliament.

However, not quite as we know it today.

In its early days it was more of a private gentleman’s Library with open fires, writing desks, comfy chairs and a liberal attitude to smoking indoors.

Through the 19th and 20th centuries the Library became a true treasure house including rare books and artworks. I note that it took until the end of the 19th century for the Library to be housed in a fire-resistant building.

Having information in the Library was never enough – parliamentarians needed the assistance of experts to retrieve accurate information efficiently and promptly.

I expect that over a century and a half the idea of promptness has changed significantly. Today a Member may not simply require accurate and impartial information but he or she may require it in 10 minutes flat.

And I can say that the 60 full-time library staff with specialist research and analytical skills regularly deliver in that time frame, as well as with extended searches which can take weeks. As many as 15-hundred searches are completed every month.

However, given my time in the Chair, I can vouch for the fact that the Library is no longer asked, as it was in the past, for fine literature and classical references to embellish Members speeches.

A 150 year tradition of providing top-quality information is both a responsibility and a challenge for those who have built on the early ambitions for the Parliamentary Library.

Those were actually fine words from Margaret Wilson, who was quite possibly the worst Speaker ever, however far be it from me to contradict the view of impartiality and accuracy a Speaker of the House requires from the servants of the people who work in the Parliamentary Library.

Though that does bring to a rather disturbing question. Is it appropriate for someone who said the following to be employed in a position that requires, in the words of Margaret Wilson, accuracy and impartiality?

Bill ‘eyes on the ball’ English: “this Government is not preoccupied with all the details” He goes on to explain that he doesn’t need information because he is too busy making decisions. Any idiot can make a decision, good decisions require good, detailed understanding of the situation.

That is a highly partisan attack on the Deputy prime Minister. Do you think the Deputy Prime Minister could rely on impartial and accurate information from the person who said that? I am not sure I could.

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