Printer Friendly

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A DAME ANYMORE; PM told titles should be scrapped.

Byline: Natalie Walker

TONY Blair was under pressure last night to scrap titles such as 'sir' and 'dame' in a radical reform of Britain's honours system.

An all-party committee of MPs condemned the awards as out-dated and elitist.

They also called for the Order of the British Empire to be replaced by an Order of British Excellence.

The Commons public administration committee said references to 'empire' in honours were now unacceptable.

They added: 'The United Kingdom has an increasingly diverse population, many of them with links to the countries of the former empire, and they are often uneasy at something that reminds them of imperial dominion.'

But critics denounced the proposals and accused the committee of pandering to political correctness.

The MPs' report, published as the Government conduct their own honours review, said: 'The title Order of the British Empire was now considered to be unacceptable, being thought to embody values that are no longer shared by many of the country's population.'

The order suggested would mirror the old one, with three levels - Member, Officer and Companion (replacing the old Commander) - retaining the old initials of MBE, OBE and CBE.The only other national honour - apart from those in the personal gift of the Queen - should be the Companion of Honour.

Knighthoods and damehoods would be phased out over a five-year period under the proposals.

Among other recommendations, the MPs called for new targets to ensure more honours go to women and people from ethnic minorities.

They said ministers should no longer have a role in considering nominations and called for the aboli-tion of the anony-mous honours selection committees and the creation of an honours commission whose membership would bemade public.

The MPs said: 'The regular conferral of knighthoods on MPs is sometimes viewed, cynically, as a mere tool of political party management.

'Even though the Prime Minister is often seen as merely providing a rubber stamp for the work of the Cabinet Office when he passes his list to Buckingham Palace, the danger is that the appearance of political involvement can tarnish the system.'

But Tory constitutional affairs spokesman Alan Duncan said that the proposals would make the system 'bland and boring'.

Constitutional expert Lord St John of Fawsley described the recommendations as 'absurd'.

He said: 'Everybody knows the British empire doesn't exist any longer. Replacing the OBE would merely create great confusion.'

A growing number of people are turning down honours.

Pop star David Bowie refused an CBE in 2000. Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders turned down OBEs in 2001. Other refusals include writer Roald Dahl and Beatle John Lennon.


HONOUR: Helen Mirren
COPYRIGHT 2004 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 14, 2004

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters