Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): On the principle that the House should be most assiduous in debating matters which Ministers are most reluctant to debate, can time be set aside for a debate on the DTI report into Hollis Industries and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry‘s responsibility for it? The right hon. Gentleman hides behind his claim that he did not receive the report, but refuses to say when he was informed of its contents; he hides behind the threat of legal action but fails to issue any writ; and hides behind advice from officials, whereas it is he who is responsible for the advice that he takes. The last time I raised this issue, the Leader of the House uncharacteristically lost her cool. Will she now, in more characteristic terms, accept that there is a case for an urgent debate on these matters?
Mrs. Beckett: It is kind of the right hon. Gentleman to say that it was uncharacteristic, but I did not lose my cool. I was extremely shocked at what I thought was quite appalling and disgraceful behaviour on his part, as a former Secretary of State, when he attempted to accuse my right hon. Friend–he has just repeated that accusation–of hiding behind advice from officials when he must be perfectly well aware that had my right hon. Friend overruled that advice, especially as a newly appointed Minister in the Department, Opposition Members would probably have a great deal more to complain about.
Private Notice Question: 5th April 2001 (Ref 366 c510-11