QUENTIN LETTS: David Cameron spanked the despatch box, whipped off his specs and told peers the facts of political life

With Labour's David Lammy having backed the International Criminal Court's plan to seek an arrest warrant for the prime minister of Israel and Hamas leaders, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron spotted an opportunity.

When his lordship espies a half-chance, he pounces. Lizard leaping on a woodlouse. Your sketchwriter harpooning a cocktail sausage at a book launch.

Przzzt! Lightning is not so fast. Unsuspecting victim vanishes down gullet in a flurry of attack and all we see in the next frame is the predator chewing, an expression of sated gluttony on his chops.

It was question time at the House of Lords. The day nurse had been round and plumped the old fools' cushions. A janitor turned down the volume on the Vera Lynn songs. Someone nudged the Lord Speaker to rouse him from his gummy reverie and Admiral Lord West (Lab), flying a pair of pale blue socks, came chugging into port and docked on the bench nearest the Woolsack, mumbling 'avast heaving!' and 'toss oars!' to himself. Every day is a sailing day for good old Westy.

The upper house is always pretty full for Tuesday questions because it happens after lunch, before siesta time. And now that they have the Foreign Secretary in their midst, they occasionally have a separate session with him.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron speaking in the House of Lords earier today

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron speaking in the House of Lords earier today

Lord Cameron (pictured) gave the despatch box a little spank and whipped off his spectacles as he gave peers some facts of political life

Lord Cameron (pictured) gave the despatch box a little spank and whipped off his spectacles as he gave peers some facts of political life

Lady Bennett (pcitured) had a question about Gaza. She mentioned the international court's pursuit of Benjamin Netanyahu

Lady Bennett (pcitured) had a question about Gaza. She mentioned the international court's pursuit of Benjamin Netanyahu

Normally Cameron is gentle with them, a polite young doctor patting liver-spotted hands and asking them if they remember the name of the Prime Minister. Not this time. He bit them. Quite a few times.

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David Cameron claims Labour is the 'odd man out' in supporting ICC's arrest warrant for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as he lists swathe of countries who oppose the move

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Lady Bennett (Greens) had a question about Gaza. She mentioned the international court's pursuit of Benjamin Netanyahu. The court was being steered by a panel of experts including the sainted Lady Kennedy of The Shaws. 'Surely it was now obvious,' said Lady Bennett, that arms sales to Israel should cease.

Lord Cameron, perhaps clocking that his interlocutor was not universally adored across the House, gave her short shrift. He briskly recalled that last time Israel's critics weighed in with these demands, Iran promptly unleashed a barrage of missiles. He gave the despatch box a little spank and whipped off his spectacles as he gave peers some facts of political life.

Lord Purvis, a not-unpriggish Lib Dem, mentioned an earlier conflict between Israel and Hamas when Lord Cameron was more critical of Israel. 'There is a bit of a difference between 2014 and now . . .' began Cameron in response. At this he was interrupted by a squawk of 'Why?' from Labour.

'I'll tell you why,' snapped Lord Cameron, swivelling on them. 'Today is Day 227 when the hostages are still in captivity.'

The despatch box came in for some more punishment and Tory peers warbled cheers. Opposition peers pouted. Cameron threw his gaze away from them, making plain he thought them a whiffy lot.

Lord Collins, for Labour, invited Dave to be more outspoken about Israel. Collins is not the most scintillating of performers. Lord Cameron did not flare at him in person, not considering that a parity-of-esteem bout. But he did reapply his spectacles and give a long answer about the Labour Party's support for the international court's stunt.

He listed various countries that had condemned it, including Germany, the United States (which called it 'outrageous'), Italy ('totally unacceptable'), Austria ('non-comprehensible') and the Czechs ('appalling and completely unacceptable').

Picture shows Israel's Iron Dome defence systems intercepts Iranian missiles in April

Picture shows Israel's Iron Dome defence systems intercepts Iranian missiles in April

Opposition peers pouted. Cameron threw his gaze away from them, making plain he thought them a whiffy lot

Opposition peers pouted. Cameron threw his gaze away from them, making plain he thought them a whiffy lot

At some point Sir Keir Starmer may need to check his team- sheet and work out what needs to be done if Mr Lammy has to be eased into another job before the general election

At some point Sir Keir Starmer may need to check his team- sheet and work out what needs to be done if Mr Lammy has to be eased into another job before the general election

Again removing his specs, he said: 'I don't want to get too political in their lordships' House' – this won laughter and cries of 'Oh!' – but the 'odd man out' in the international community was bungler Lammy.

'Answer the question,' pinked Lord Collins. Lord Cameron, with pleasure: 'I have answered your question.' And he gave a couple of little side-wobbles of his head, just as our lizard does as it is digesting that woodlouse.

At some point Sir Keir Starmer may need to check his team- sheet and work out what needs to be done if Mr Lammy has to be eased into another job before the general election.

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