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Secret service from the QCA

SOME dates for your diaries: the next meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the governing body of NATO, will be next Wednesday. For those in a riotous frame of mind: the World Trade Organisation's next big pow-wow will be in Qatar from November 9 and the G8 will be in Alberta from June 26 next year. Further afield, the Chinese Central Military Commission, the highest council of the People's Liberation Army, promised to send us the date of their forthcoming meeting.

Unfortunately, despite strenuous efforts, we will not be able to inform readers of the dates of the meetings of the ruling organ of the North Korean Communist Party, or of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) here in the UK.

A spokesman for the QCA explained helpfully: "Within the terms of the 1997 Education Act, authority meetings are not public and the deliberations of the authority are set out in advice to ministers. This advice is published when ministers respond and this is the means by which the proceedings of the authority are made public."

Asked for the teensiest weensiest clue as to just when the meetings might be held (we didn't expect an invite) the authority's line remained firm:

"We see no other reason for us to tell the dates."

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