Yesterday the Conservative requested an Urgent Question on Iraq via The Speaker. William Hague expected he would be up against the Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett. The Speaker was happy to accept it but was then embarrassed to find out that not a single one of the Foreign Office Ministers was available to answer it. Margaret Beckett, Kim Howells and Geoff Hoon were all abroad and Ian McCartney was unwell. It was decided that to avoid embarrassment all round that they would reapply today.
Today it emerged that Kim Howells was in Washington, Hoon in Berlin and Beckett in, er, Plymouth. It seems that Mrs B is back in London tomorrow and would be able to fit a fleeting appearance in Parliament in her busy diary then. Mr Hague thought otherwise and decided to rouse Ian McCartney from his sickbed. I wonder what on earth the Foreign Secretary has been doing in Plymouth which has prevented her from appearing in the House of Commons for two days on the trot?