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The Scurra.

THE monumentally tedious proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee were enlivened earlier this week when Durham MP Gerry Steinberg blurted out an anti-Scouse remark.

After three Merseyside MPs - Angela Eagle, George Howarth and Frank Field - had spoken on the Invest To Save initiative (see what I mean?), Steinberg intervened. "Following three Scousers is like being the dustcart behind the Lord Mayor's procession," he said.

Now, my Commons sources say this carried the clear implication that Steinberg reckons he was clearing up the manure left by his Scouse colleagues.

But he's having none of it. "I wouldn't say that," he tells me. "I just thought to myself there are three gems of wisdom there so I can't follow this."

And the Scousers took it in good part. "I think Gerry would make a very good collector of Merseyside dung," quips Field.

BEEF is now a more popular Christmas dinner than roast turkey, says British Meat consumer marketing manager... Chris Lamb.

THE Manchester businessman congratulated by Bill Clinton for pledging "the largest donation to a social cause" in British history has a chequered past, I can reveal.

Mark Langford, boss of the Amulet group, which specialises in legal insurance for motorists, pledged pounds 6million to fund a call centre for the NSPCC at the weekend.

But 18 months ago he was found guilty of careless driving in his Ferrari and fined pounds 1,000 after he knocked down and killed pensioner William Thornley just six months after completing a drink-driving ban.

His spokesman Clive Entwhistle tells me Langford made a "private payment to Mr Thornley's family". Glad to hear it.

IF Prince Harry is wondering what Christmas gifts he'll receive from girlfriend Nicola Sturgis, then perhaps I have the answers.

Flame-haired Sturgis went shopping for pressies in Cirencester last week. At Wall Space, which specialises in prints of polo and horse-racing, she bought a framed picture. At sports shop Roxtons she bought bits from the polo section. And at men's outfitters Pakeman, Catto & Carter she went for socks and boxers.

BITE-SIZED singer Elaine Paige appears to have side-stepped the two-year waiting list for membership of west London tennis club

Queen's. As regular readers know, Sir Tim Rice's ex-mistress applied to join in October. Now her name has appeared on the list of people who can expect to become members by February - a paltry four-month wait.

Although Paige has yet to receive her club card she is spotted on the courts most Wednesdays. I feel I must point out that non-members are allowed to play only six times a year and only then when accompanied by a member.

FOLLOWING The Scurra's item about Hull MP Kevin McNamara not knowing the meaning of the phrase "shag off", reader Fiona Bayle emails: "The word 'shag' in Ireland has a completely different meaning. 'The shagging thing', would mean 'the bloody thing'. Or indeed 'shag it', might mean 'to hell with it'."

PAUL Burrell's luggage went missing on a flight back from the USA. It was quite a shock. Apparently, he'd expected the Queen to come good for him and prevent him losing his case.

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CART: Gerry; GAMES: Elaine
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 11, 2002
Words:524
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