MINISTERIAL CORRESPONDENCE – 15 July 1999

Dr Julian Lewis: The right hon. Lady will probably not know that I previously raised with her predecessor as Leader of the House the issue of the conduct of the Deputy Prime Minister – whom I am delighted to see in the Chamber – when he refused to answer a question posed by me in the House. He wrongly said that the question was untruthful. I now return to the question of the right hon. Gentleman's conduct in relation to his other role as Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. May I request a debate on early-day motion 820?

[That this House notes with concern the failure of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to respond to a letter from the honourable Member for New Forest East when originally sent on 16th March and when faxed to his office on 25th May; further notes that the only matter discussed over the telephone by the Secretary of State's and honourable Member's offices was the Secretary of State's repeated failure to reply; therefore deplores the misleading written Answer on 8th July to a written question from the honourable Member for New Forest East, in which the Secretary of State wrongly stated that his reason for repeatedly failing to reply, was that 'the matter was dealt with by our offices over the telephone'; and accordingly calls upon the Secretary of State to handle his correspondence from honourable Members properly in future, rather than seeking to shield his incompetence and discourtesy.]

The motion relates to the right hon. Gentleman's failure to respond to correspondence from me, his further failure to respond to reminders about his failure to respond to correspondence from me, and his eventual misleading written answer, which wrongly claims that he does not respond to correspondence from me because the matter has been dealt with on the telephone. Back Benchers are fed up with this sort of arrogance and disregard for their attempts to do their duty, particularly when it is covered up by erroneous claims.