Labour anger as Scott escapes

NICHOLAS SCOTT was still in his ministerial job last night after the Speaker dismayed Labour MPs by ruling in his favour despite his admission that he had given a 'misleading' answer in the Commons.

John Smith, the Labour leader, last night again called for Mr Scott to resign over his earlier denial that his department had covertly fed Tory backbenchers with amendments designed to wreck a private member's Bill outlawing discrimination against disabled people.

Mr Scott told the Commons on Tuesday in a rare personal statement that his department 'with my authority' had been involved in preparing amendments. He offered 'unreserved apologies' for not giving a 'fuller explanation' when the issue had been raised on Friday.

The ruling by Betty Boothroyd, the Speaker, coupled with the Prime Minister's strong backing, appeared to have given Mr Scott a reprieve intended to ensure he remains in office at least until the expected summer reshuffle.

However, the full-scale inter- party row continued unabated last night with an angry exchange of letters between John Major and Mr Smith after the Speaker's decision that she would not initiate parliamentary privilege proceedings against Mr Scott. Labour MPs claimed the ruling set a precedent under which ministers would be able to mislead MPs and then evade the consequences by subsequently apologising if found out.

Although the Speaker denied that, Dale Campbell-Savours, MP for Workington, took the rare step of openly questioning a ruling by declaring: 'I find your ruling, with all the respect in the world, utterly astonishing. It is of grave concern to many of my colleagues.'

Earlier, Mr Scott's embarrassment had intensified when his daughter, Victoria, a campaigner for the disabled, had strongly criticised the Government for blocking the Bill. 'We are very, very angry. Disabled people are furious with what the Government have done to their Bill,' she said.

Labour promised to make Mr Major's decision to back again an embattled minister a central issue in the coming European election campaign, but the Prime Minister insisted in a letter to Mr Smith that the issue of Mr Scott's future was now 'closed'. He challenged Mr Smith to say how Labour would enact a radical anti-discrimination law that would, according to ministers, cost pounds 17bn.

With the row threatening to resurface in the Commons today at Prime Minister's Question Time, Mr Smith replied by saying Mr Major had 'totally' missed the point, adding: 'If you and your government did not want this Bill, you should have had the courage openly to oppose it rather than resorting to underhand and deceitful tactics.'

Opposition MPs also turned their fire on Lady Olga Maitland who, with four other backbench MPs, had been involved last Friday in tabling 80 amendments to the Bill which led to its running out of time. Lady Olga, the MP for Sutton and Cheam, who is visiting Malawi, had earlier insisted she was the sole author of amendments tabled in her name.

Liz Lynne, Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on health, asked whether 'it is in order for Lady Olga to have been able to mislead the House without coming to make a statement. I think it was disgraceful.' The Speaker said since the original complaint by Mr Campbell-Savours of a breach of privilege had been made, there had been subsequent 'developments' and Mr Scott had made an apology. She, therefore, did not intend to give pursuit of the matter 'precedence'.

Peter Lilley, Secretary of State for Social Security, strongly defended his ministerial colleague, but conceded in a BBC radio interview that amendments had been drawn up originally for the Government but then were 'made, as it is clear, available to backbenchers who put them down'.

Ann Clwyd, a Labour front- bencher, said last night: 'Mr Scott had three opportunities to correct the position last Friday . . . He was pressed by members on three occasions. Each time he passed the opportunity by.'

How the Bill was wrecked, page 3

Inside Parliament, page 10

Leading article, page 19

Andrew Marr, page 21

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference