The missing Minister and the "very, very nice office"


Hell hath no fury like a select committee scorned.

MPs on the Welsh affairs committee made Edwina Hart an offer she could all too easily refuse, and they have not forgotten her reluctance to appear before them.

Knocked back by the Welsh government's business minister, this afternoon they had to make do with two UK cabinet ministers and a peer who used to run one of the world's largest banks.

Business secretary Vince Cable, secretary of state for Wales, Cheryl Gillan and trade minister Lord Green did their best to fill in for the missing minister.

MPs on the committee wondered how often the trio had met Mrs Hart since her appointment six months ago.

Dr Cable shook his head, Lord Green confessed he'd not had the pleasure, although Mrs Gillan had met the elusive Minister - once.

Mrs G had hoped to meet Mrs H "quarterly", although the Welsh business minister had decided twice a year was enough. Mrs Hart had agreed to meet her every six months, "if the Welsh Minister considers there is something we need to talk about".

A Welsh Government source said later that Mrs Hart had asked to meet Dr Cable to discuss the proposed green investment bank, but that request had been declined. The UK business secretary did admit that he and his Welsh counterpart have corresponded via letters.

Should Mrs Hart be worried about hotdesking opportunities at the Whitehall home of the Wales Office, Mrs Gillan was keen to re-assure her.

The Welsh government does have an office in Gwydyr House, the Wales Office HQ, but Mrs Gillan didn't know how often it was used as it was possible to enter and leave without passing the secretary of state's own office.

But she said it was "a very nicely appointed office", adding for emphasis, "it is a very, very nice office".

Welsh government ministers would, she told the committee, be "very welcome guests".

David Cornock, Parliamentary correspondent, Wales Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    My granddaughter's gerbil knows more about business than Edwina Hart. Though come to think of it, the gerbil also knew more about health than Edwina Hart.

    Sadly the gerbil is not yet smart enough to have a pension fund with an employer's (taxpayers) contribution of at least 24% of salary... 'like wot' Ms Hart gets.

    Though it is higher in the opinion research ratings than Ms Hart !.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Almost as bad as the missing analsis from you, Cornock.

    If, as Osbourne said,there are to be a further 400,000 job cuts as well as a counterpart cut inservices, to pay for capital projects in ENGLAND, then Wales' Barnett consequentials should have remained the same.
    Instead the 30 bn is to be spent by Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    The appalling attack on public service workers designed to reduce the debt and give confidence to markets whose aim is cheaper labour, even less taxation of the rich and the sell off of public assets, will it seems be accompanied in Wales by a unique further reduction of demand causing more unemployment, a special 'treatment' for Wales prescribed by the Coaltion - a conclusion you fail to draw.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Why would Edwina Hart wish to meet English Ministers?
    They show little interest in enhancing the Welsh Economy.
    Indeed the English Cheryl Gillan's answer to inward investment in Wales was to advocate cutting Civil and Public Servants wages so that low paying Private Sector employers can compete.
    A race to the bottom, or Gideon's control of the distribution of wealth to control the masses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    It is embarrassing. She must thank her lucky stars that so few people show so any interest in the assembly and its ministers that they can get away with this sort of ignorant, arrogant behaviour.


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