The Department for International Development, at which Wee Dougie is part time Secretary of State, applied to Mr Speaker to make a statement on the growing crisis in Burma. Sadly, it seems Wee Dougie forgot all about it, or was busy having urgent discussions of a non Ugandan variety with the Prime Minister. Or was stuck in traffic. Who knows? Anyway, it's the first time MPs can ever remember a Minister failing to show up for a Statement they had requested. Here's what happened...
He may well have apologised but he certainly didn't explain. The Deputy Speaker was overheard giving him a right bollocking, warning him that "Mr Speaker will be furious".
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. In the absence of the Secretary of State for Defence—[HON. MEMBERS: “International Development!”] In the absence of the Secretary of State for International Development, who I understand is on his way, and the Secretary of State for Defence, who has the business after that, I have no option but to suspend the sitting for five minutes.
Dr. Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is extraordinary that the Secretary of State for International Development is not here. Could it be that he has been detained advising his sister on the mess that she has got the Government into, and he is now getting the Government—and, indeed, this House—into another mess?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That has to be a matter of pure speculation. I suspend the sitting until 12.17 pm.12.17pm
The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): I begin by apologising unreservedly to the House for my delayed arrival and for the delay in making the statement. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to inform it on the response being taken to cyclone Nargis.
The Labour whips were in full panic mode trying to locate Dougie. Was he stuck in traffic in his limo? Perhaps he should take a leaf out of his Tory opposite number's book. Andrew Mitchell travels everywhere in London by bike. He managed to make it back to reply to the Statement despite having been half way up the M1 on his way to Birmingham when the Statement was agreed to by The Speaker's office.