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MP puts himself to the test

When MPs set an example for the rest of us, it is always an edifying spectacle. Who can forget John Gummer, agriculture minister at the height of the BSE crisis, sharing burgers with his daughter?

Little Cordelia survived, but Mr Gummer's career never quite recovered, so it takes a special kind of MP to put his reputation and dignity on the line.

Tony Cunningham, Labour MP for Workington in Cumbria, is to be applauded, therefore, for agreeing that giving lip service to Adult Learners' Week was not enough if he was to help his local college.

Only taking a level 2 literacy test (Look! It didn't hurt a bit!) could convince his constituents to troop down to Lakes college and sign up.

FErret enjoyed a warm glow of satisfaction that the MP passed on Friday with a score of 90 per cent.

But some unease remains at a last-minute switch from his original plan of taking a numeracy test, using the excuse that literacy was quicker for an MP in a hurry.

Perhaps Mr Cunningham thinks having been the Euro MP presiding over the EU's pound;2 billion development budget is enough to prove he can do his sums.

Knowing how the EU and careful money management go together like an alcoholic and a vodka bottle, FErret reckons the jury is still out.

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