John Bercow scolds Tory minister Sajid Javid for being 'discourteous and incompetent'

Speaker John Bercow told the Business Secretary that it was 'blindingly obvious' that he should have given a Government statement instead of taking twice as long to answer the Urgent Question on the 1,200 job losses at Tata Steel

Matt Dathan
Online political reporter
Tuesday 20 October 2015 14:15
Business secretary scolded

John Bercow has told a Conservative minister off for taking too long to answer a question in the House of Commons and took the extraordinary step of telling him he had behaved in a "discourteous and incompetent" way.

Sajid Javid was answering an Urgent Question called by Labour following the announcement that a further 1,170 jobs would be lost at the Tata Steel company in Scunthorpe and Lanarkshire.

John Bercow took exception to Sajid Javid's lengthy response to an Urgent Question in the Commons

The Speaker was unhappy at his lengthy response and told him it was "blindingly obvious" that he should have elected to deliver a government statement on the issue instead.

In a scathing outburst against the Business Secretary, Mr Bercow said: "It is a considerable discourtesy, or incompetent or both for a Secretary of State to take twice the length of time that is allocated for answering an Urgent Question."

He added: "What he should not do is fail to communicate with me in advance, ignore the convention and greatly exceed his allotted time. It is, I’m afraid, discourteous and incompetent and must not happen again."

Mr Javid told MPs in an emergency debate on the job losses that the Government was doing "everything within our power to support" Tata Steel but said he could give no promises over calls to intervene to reopen the plants, change the price of steel or alter exchange rates.

The job losses at Tata Steel - 900 from its Scunthorpe plant and a further 270 in Lanarkshire, follow news that administrators have been appointed to parts of Caparo Industries' steel operations, threatening 1,800 jobs and earlier this month 2,200 jobs were lost at the Redcar steelworks.

The 5,100 job losses this month come from a UK workforce of about 30,000 - the industry blames cheap Chinese imports for a collapse in steel prices.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Javid told steelworkers: "We will not abandon you now in your greatest time of need. We have already announced a support package for workers at Redcar and we will listen to local people who come forward with ideas to support these areas."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments