Commons Speaker John Bercow delivered an almighty slap down to Business Secretary Sajid Javid today, branding him “discourteous and incompetent” after he gave a statement on the British steel industry.
Mr Javid responded to an urgent question on the action the Government is taking on the future of the steel industry following job losses in Redcar, Scunthorpe, Scotland and threats to employment in the Midlands.
The Business Secretary spent eight minutes answering the question in the Commons this afternoon – twice as long as he the time he was allocated.
Mr Bercow left the Cabinet Minister in no doubt of what he thought of his performance, coldly telling him: “It’s a considerable discourtesy or incompetence or both for the Secretary of State to take twice the length of time that is allocated for answering an urgent question.”
“If the Right Honourable Gentleman judges that he has more material that he wishes to share with the House, which of itself could be very helpful, that’s fine, but the implication of that is blindingly obvious, and that is that the Right Honourable Gentleman should offer to deliver an Oral Statement to the House of up to ten minutes.
“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 it must not happen again.”
As well as incurring the wrath of the Speaker, Mr Javid also attracted criticism from the SNP’s Marion Fellows:
SNP's Marion Fellows MP says it is a disgrace that Javid did not mention Scottish steel plants in his statement.— Torcuil Crichton (@Torcuil) October 20, 2015
The UK steel industry has taken a huge knock in the past few weeks, with thousands of job losses already confirmed and more expected to follow.
Some 2,000 jobs were lost in Redcar after the town’s steel plant was closed, followed by news that a further 1,200 posts will be axed at Tata Steel factories in Scunthorpe and Scotland.
Caparo Industries, which operates 20 sites in the Midlands, filed for administration on Monday, threatening a further 1,700 jobs.