Speaker John Bercow and MPs criticise 'Awol' Vince Cable


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Indy Politics

"Awol" Vince Cable was criticised by Commons Speaker John Bercow today after the Business Secretary skipped his monthly grilling from MPs.

Mr Cable was in Germany rather than at the Westminster dispatch box where ministers from his department took his place - but failed to explain why he was missing.

His absence from the chamber was condemned by Mr Bercow, who said: "Ordinarily when a Secretary of State is absent the facts of the absence are explained at the start of question time.

"I know the Secretary of State is absent because I have received a letter from him, but for the record it would be desirable to be told at the outset.

"In general terms it is highly undesirable for the Secretary of State to absent on these occasions.

"It must not become a regular practice."

Labour MPs joined the criticism with shadow business minister Ian Murray describing Mr Cable as "the awol Secretary of State".

John Spellar (Warley) was "astonished the Secretary of State hasn't turned up today", adding it was "bad form".

Business Minister Mark Prisk said Mr Cable was promoting British business in Germany, telling Mr Bercow: "We will note the admonishment you have made."

A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokeswoman said Mr Cable was visiting Germany with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, adding the trip had been "planned for months".

Mr Cable was also missing from the Commons on Monday when Mr Prisk was forced to deputise for his boss after Labour tabled an urgent question on venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft's leaked report into cutting business red tape.

Mr Cable's fellow Cabinet minister, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, missed his Commons question time last week.