"Bringing Families Together"

"Bringing Families Together"

Friday, November 5, 2010

SCOTTISH Secretary Michael Moore carpeted

Michael Moore carpeted for failing to answer questions of MPs
By David Maddox

SCOTTISH Secretary Michael Moore is to be hauled before a parliamentary committee for failing to answer MPs' questions.
• Michael Moore: 'He doesn't seem to know his brief at all'

He is meant to be Scotland's voice in the Cabinet, but he has also come under scrutiny over what he is doing in office.

The Scotsman understands he is due to be called before the Commons procedure committee for either failing to answer written questions from MPs or not answering them directly.

The committee has decided to launch an investigation into how well ministers respond to questions, after complaints the new coalition often delays answers beyond the seven-day convention or that MPs are simply given a holding reply.

The committee can give ministers only "a slap on the wrists", but it hopes its actions will embarrass them into improving their performance.

There have also been complaints about Foreign Office ministers.

It is understood there is particular frustration over questions about Mr Moore's diary, and where he was on particular dates. He has yet to explain where he was on 13 July - the day of the vote on increasing VAT. He missed the vote, which was an embarrassment for Mr Moore's Liberal Democrats, who had campaigned in the election specifically against such a rise.

His department's initial response to the media wrongly claimed he had been paired with an opposition member. Officials then said he had been away on ministerial business in Scotland.

There have also been a series of questions, particularly from current shadow Scottish secretary Ann McKechin, that Mr Moore has been accused of failing to address in his answers.

A source close to the committee said: "Michael Moore is one of the ministers who is going to be asked to appear before the committee to explain himself."

The revelation about the committee's intentions comes amid growing frustration over what the Scottish Secretary is doing and questions over whether he is properly fighting Scotland's corner in the Cabinet.

His evidence session to the Scottish affairs select committee on the Strategic Defence and Security Review and Comprehensive Spending Review earlier this week angered many members because he kept on referring them to other ministries.

East Lothian Labour MP Fiona O'Donnell said: "It is incredibly frustrating that he constantly answers by saying he will write a letter to us or refers us to another department.
He doesn't seem to know his brief at all.

"If he is Scotland's voice in the Cabinet, it is clearly a whisper not a roar."

The Scotsman understands several members of the committee have lost patience and are questioning whether it is worth calling Mr Moore to give evidence, suggesting other ministers should come before them instead.

During his evidence session this week, Mr Moore underlined his dual role of representing Scotland in the Cabinet and the coalition in Scotland.

He also insisted he was working hard, pointing to a number of visits to defence bases and dockyards during the defence review.

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