Guitarist in Parliament’s rock group welcomed to the new world of Mandelsonia

June 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

Parliamentary rock group MP4

by Tony Grew

Ministers from the new Department of Business, Innovation and Skills answered questions in the Commons last week.

Two Shadow Cabinet minsters faced them, as the Tory team has not been reshuffled to reflect the merger of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Universities, Innovation and Skills into a new “super-department” headed by Lord Mandelson.

David Willetts, Shadow Universities Secretary, congratulated the ministers on their new posts, “although we believe that our colleges and universities are not simply the instruments of a Business Department, and they certainly do not look forward to reporting to Alan Sugar.”

“I congratulate the Department on its efforts to improve social mobility with an imaginative new route into the House of Lords—four Ministers so far, and at least another one on the way,” he said.

Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke could not resist a dig at Lord Mandelson.

“May I congratulate the Minister (Pat McFadden) on his elevation to Cabinet status in Lord Mandelson’s amazing, ever-expanding empire, which now stretches from space to defence sales to universities and further education?” he said.

“No doubt Lord Mandelson has other territorial ambitions in mind.”

Even Labour MPs joined in.

David Taylor welcomed Ian Lucas to the frontbench, describing his new job as a “key role in the empire of Mandelsonia.”

Minister of State Pat McFadden set out the new department’s responsibilities.

“Our Department brings together support for business and enterprise with innovation, skills and further and higher education policy to ensure that we foster competitiveness and spread opportunity,” he said.

“All that is important to Britain’s economic future.”

Questioned about the proposed part-privatisation of Royal Mail, he said the bill carry forward those reforms has completed its stages in the other place and been introduced here.

“As the Secretary of State (Lord Mandelson) also said, we will continue to try to secure best value for the taxpayer, and the timetable for any transaction for Royal Mail may be a little longer than that for the legislation.”

Labour MP Lindsay Roy asked what the government’s newly-appointed enterprise czar, Sir Alan Sugar, will bring to the job.

“Sir Alan is one of Britain’s most well known and respected entrepreneurs,” Mr McFadden said.

“He will act as an adviser to Government—not as a Minister.

“We believe that it is important to draw on that sort of entrepreneurial talent precisely because of the economic challenges that the country faces.

“While we draw on the best talent available, others are indulging in parlour games about peers and personalities.

“We will continue to draw on whatever talent is necessary to do the best economic job for the country.”

Earlier Ian Cawsey, MP for Brigg and Goole, had an unusual welcome for new Business minister Kevin Brennan.

“May I congratulate my hon. Friend and fellow MP4 band mate on a well-deserved promotion to his new post,” he said.

“We look forward to hearing the song that he will no doubt write about it.”

MP4, the Parliamentary rock group, is made up of four MPs; Mr Brennan (guitar) Mr Cawsey (bass/vocals), the SNP’s Pete Wishart (keyboards) and Tory Greg Knight (drums).


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