After a series of shock accidents parliament is to impose a blanket ban on applause across England and Wales. Applause will still be allowed in Scotland whilst ministers there debate the health and safety of this dangerous activity.
"Hospital A&E departments have been recently inundated with broken bones, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and three cases of blindness due to a fingernail flying into the eye," said Phil Hammond, the minister for the NHS. "All of these are as a direct result of clapping. This has got to stop."
People in Northern Ireland are up in arms about the new proposal. "Once again," said Gerry Adams, "we have been excluded from British health and safety measures. This oversight is intolerable and pervades all of British Policy making."
The new law will come into force at midnight.
"From tomorrow," said Phil Hammond, "we will impose tough measures on anybody caught clapping."
The police have been authorised to issue on the spot punishment to anybody seen applauding. For the first offence, the non-writing hand will be chopped off. For any further offence, the other hand will be removed also, in a move reminiscent of Sharia Law.
"We believe," said Hammond, "that after losing both hands, people will be less inclined to applaud in future. For those that continue to applaud in face of further punishment, there is a fifty pound fine."
This move could have a serious effect on the theatre going public, who have often used applause to indicate their appreciation at the end of a performance.
"Theatre goers will have to find an alternative to applause," said Hammond. "Most of the injuries we see are due to an exceptional performance. Had they thrown roses, or whooped in a very American fashion, these injuries could have been avoided."
A small loop hole exists in the new law. It is permissible to clap the hands together once, in order to kill a small insect. There is expected to be a plague of midges descending on the West End of London each night coinciding with the end of performances in the theatres there.