The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, faced embarrassment yesterday after he told MPs that a new committee set up to promote economic growth had not held any meetings – even though he attended two of them.
Mr Cable, the vice-chairman of the Growth Implementation Committee, was forced to correct his evidence to a select committee after saying: "I can't tell you why that committee has not been convened yet."
In fact the Cabinet committee, set up by Prime Minister David Cameron two months ago to ensure the Government's growth-supporting initiatives are driven through, actually met on 18 September and 22 October.
Appearing before the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, Mr Cable was asked by the Labour MP Ann McKechin about rumours that no meetings had yet been held. He appeared to confirm that the committee had indeed not met, before playing down its importance to creating growth in the economy.
"I don't think anybody in government or anywhere else would imagine that Cabinet committees drive economic growth," he said. "It's there to take check and hold government departments accountable for delivering on those things they've agreed to do. It's an important part of the machinery of government but it doesn't drive economic growth. But it's a fair question and I will endeavour to find out why this group has not met."
Later in the same committee meeting, Mr Cable said he needed to "correct the record". "I readied my memory very quickly and I couldn't recall meetings of the committee. There were in fact two, on 18 September and 22 October, so that committee is operating and has met," he said.
Downing Street confirmed that there had been two meetings of the committee.