New Forest East

DTI – MITTAL SCANDAL – 5 March 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: I apologise to my hon. Friend [John Whittingdale] and to the Secretary of State [for Wales (Paul Murphy)] for not having been present for the earlier part of the debate, but I was present for the debate on Welsh affairs on Thursday. The line that the Secretary of State took then was that the Government had acted out of the goodness of their heart to help build up Romania and deprived areas of Eastern Europe. However, the line that the Prime Minister has consistently taken is that they were acting to help British industry and back a British company. Can my hon. Friend tell me which line the Secretary of State has been taking today?

[John Whittingdale: Part of the problem is that the Government's defence of their actions has changed every five minutes. We have been given a dozen reasons why the Prime Minister chose to intervene, and each one that is probed is shown to be incredible and untrue. That is why nobody believes the Government's explanations of the matter any more. I return to the threat to the UK steel industry.]