Andy McSmith's Diary: Jeremy Hunt(s) for answers to all the right questions (if they’re sent in beforehand)
There is little spontaneity in Question Time in the House of Commons. MPs arrive with their pre-prepared questions, quite often supplied for them by the business managers.
Even when questions are not planted, a minister usually knows in advance what he or she is going to be asked by those on the government side.
Though all this is known, hard evidence is usually difficult to find.
However, I have on my screen a copy of an email sent to selected Tory MPs by the executive assistant to the special advisers at the Department of Health five days before Jeremy Hunt and other Health ministers were due to face the Commons.
“Good Morning,” it says, “I have received notice that you will be posing a question at the upcoming session of Health Orals. If it would be helpful for you to send the supplementary question that you intend to ask beforehand, then please send them over to me.
“This will, of course, ensure that the answer given in the House is as substantive as possible. With thanks and very best wishes…”
The first supplementary question that Hunt had to answer came from a Tory MP, Alec Shelbrooke.
“I thank you for highlighting this important issue,” Hunt replied.
He added that so concerned was he about this very issue that just the other day ordered the NHS director of patient safety to look into it. What a coincidence!
Blair’s lost chance for war
South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki has revived an old and odd story that Tony Blair once had visions of British and South Africans marching shoulder to shoulder to overthrow Robert Mugabe.
In an interview with Al Jazeera over the weekend, Mbeki cited a retired “chief of the British forces” who had to ward off pressure from Blair to start planning an invasion of Zimbabwe.
That tale, often retold in the African press, originated with an interview that General Sir Charles Guthrie gave The Independent on Sunday in November 2007, in which Lord Guthrie said that “people were always trying to get me to look at” military action in southern Africa, but he advised them to “hold hard, you’ll make it worse”.
Mbeki now claims that he also told Blair where to get off. “We said no… Why does it become a British responsibility to decide who leads Zimbabwe?”
There is no doubt that after British troops successfully intervened in Sierra Leone, in 2000, people in government hoped that it would serve as a warning to Mugabe. It didn’t.
The rest was probably chatter.
Commiserations to Ian H Watkins, the Welsh singer who formed part of the 1990s group Steps, who has had to come off Twitter to avoid drawing any more abuse from people who mix him up with that vile pervert, Ian Watkins, formerly of Lostprophets.
A faraway country...
It is good to see that the World Bank is not there just to help the big boys.
Tuvalu, far away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is the smallest country on the World Bank’s books and the fourth-smallest in the world, being just slightly bigger than Monaco.
The islands have suffered badly from the recession, and the Bank has granted them $3m (£1.8m) to put their economy back together.
The Queen is Tuvalu’s head of state. She has not been there for more than 30 years, and although Prince William and Mrs Kate Windsor made a well-received visit last year, I do wonder how closely Her Majesty’s office is following the affairs of this little corner of her dominion.
On Her Majesty’s official website, it states that the Governor General of Tuvalu is the Rev Filomeia Telito.
According to the Tuvalu Newsletter of 25 July 2011, Telito retired in March 2010, died on 11 July 2011 and received a state funeral on 14 July.
Ma’am’s website is nearly four years out of date.
- 3 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Sir David Attenborough interview: The one question about life that still baffles him
Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
One spelling error costs Companies House up to £9 million after being sued for ruining business
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for a talented...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...