The first question, traditionally asked by the Chairman, in this case Lord Roper, dealt with that miasma of vague promises the Millennium Development Goals. Understandably, he and the rest of the committee seemed a little nonplussed as to what, if anything has been achieved and what the European Council managed to agree on.
Mr Murphy's reply was priceless in its total lack of sense:
On the Millennium Development Goals there was a recommitment to the Agenda for Action. The important point is that it is a recommitment without backsliding. The reason why I mention that is that, in a context of the fiscal pressures that respective governments are under in Europe, there is a continuing commitment to that. Without being too specific, there was a sense that some Member States wished to revisit or repackage how this was measured, and the achievement there is that we did not slide back at all on Millennium Development Goals. The frank assessment, which your Lordships already know about but it is a continuing frank assessment, is that we are not on track with the Millennium Development Goals and, while the European Council discussed and reconfirmed its commitment, the plan of action at the moment does not get us to where we wish to be in the Millennium Development Goals, even with this renewed commitment and so the Prime Minister has made it very clear that we need to see further action.Should any of our readers understand what that says, it would be good to hear from them. I am not offering any prizes at this stage but that might be quite a good idea for the future.