Members of a parliamentary select committee reporting on British sales of weapons to Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East have been frustrated in their noble work of watering down criticism and ensuring business as usual. A strongly worded call to suspend export licenses and investigate the precise extent of the Saudi wog-bombers' law-abiding restraint would probably give pause even to Mad Tessie May and the blustering blimp at the Ministry for War and the Colonies. Therefore, it is alleged, a number of committee members withdrew from a meeting on Monday night so that a quorum would not be present. The chair of the foreign affairs select committee, Crispin Blunt, has been squealing for Parliament to hire private investigators for the purpose of hunting down and neutralising anyone attempting to inform the public of such petty political chicanery. After all, the sale of weapons to the head-chopping House of Saud is, according to Crispin Blunt, an "instance of the greatest seriousness involving life-and-death issues and the employment of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens", doubtless not excluding one or two parliamentary kickbacks from the arms industry.