With just over three months to go before their exile to the political wilderness, legislative councillors have very important matters on their minds. You can understand it, can't you? There is a huge backlog of work to do, the clock is ticking away and the Government is pressing them to prioritise important legislation such as the ordinances localising the copyright and patent laws. That in turn could mean some of their own pet legislation may be shelved. And any legislation which runs out of time this session is unlikely ever to see the light of day again. Plus, of course, some of those watching their political careers trickling through their fingers and down through the cracks in the Sino-British relationship are wondering how they can keep their names in the headlines and ensure their re-election in 1998. So are they busy? You bet. Men and women of formidable wrath are on the warpath. Certain legislators, we understand, are particularly upset that men in bow-ties should enjoy privileges in Legco denied to others. So they have begun the political bidding on the Budget with a novel complaint. While other worthy members bother the financial secretary over welfare payments and wine duties, the Down-with-Donald faction, we understand, is protesting that Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was allowed to bring herbal tea into the chamber to drink during his budget speech on Wednesday. Mere mortals in ordinary neckties, dresses and (in the case of trade unionist Leung Yiu-chung) open collars are expected to drink water. Now this could have been quite a serious matter. Tea in the British colonial legislature! Let us not forget that it was Britain's need to find silver to pay for the tea it bought from China that led it into the opium business in the first place. If it had not been for tea, there would have been no Hong Kong. But our elected councillors are not worried about historical sensitivities. One legislator, we understand, merely fears this could be the thin end of the wedge. Reports have it that he fears his colleagues may soon be bringing in tea, coffee, milk, wine or even spirits. Now we do not want to make a big issue of this. But we rather like the idea of getting legislators on something a bit stronger than water. Not that we want to encourage the kind of violence you find in the Taiwan legislature. Nor do we want to encourage somnolence. The president of Legco Andrew Wong Wang-fat has sworn off alcohol on Wednesday lunchtimes to avoid falling asleep during in the speaker's chair. And it seems to have worked for him. But we are certain that some members would find the effect of a wee dram or two uplifting. We imagine the debate would be vastly improved if members lost a few of those inhibitions that sobriety saddles them with. We do not want to trivialise this serious matter by imagining debates on the subject of pink elephants and the like. But we feel sure it would enliven matters if a bit of bluster and disrespect were permitted in the chamber. Since the president of the Provisional Legislature of the Brave New Special Administrative Region believes the time has come for even politer and more restrained debate, in which nobody says anything personal about anybody else, then the time has surely also come for the real Legco to show what real debate can be about and get rid of some of this outmoded decorum. What we want is a few Churchillian phrases to set the council ringing. We need a man who can stand up in parliament to be told 'Sir you're drunk'; and be able to respond, 'Madam you are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning'. We need a man who is prepared to overlook the restrictive rules of unparliamentary language and who is prepared to use a bit of blue in his speeches throughout. The problem would be drafting adequate rules for what is extremely strictly controlled today. It would, for example, probably be all right to say 'Mr Precedent' or 'Mr Prethidenk' but how much further could you go without coming up against a total barrier of incomprehension? But perhaps we are being too imaginative. It is probably not necessary to use alcohol to achieve this transformation. Some of the least lively members (though far fewer, it is true, than in the old appointed legislature) would probably be stimulated sufficiently by caffeine to raise the level of debate considerably. Enough of this low farce! No serious commentator would honestly suggest alcohol should be permitted in the chamber. Incoherency in the debating chamber after a good lunch is not unknown even among the present upright membership. And frankly, we doubt that coffee or tea would make the slightest difference. The question, though, is whether legislators are getting too self-important. Attacking the financial secretary is certainly good sport. And Mr Tsang is an easy enough target even without carrying on as though taking a few sups of herbal tea were a major faux pas. But it is not the sort of behaviour that will enhance anyone's image or get the outstanding legislation passed before the handover. So come on, ladies and gentlemen, stop being silly about herbal tea and get on with the job.