A Question Time audience member sparked raucous applause after demanding to know why transport secretary Chris Grayling continued to work with construction giant Carillion, despite signs the company was failing.
Tens of thousands of jobs were left at risk after the Wolverhampton-based firm was forced into liquidation on Monday.
The business is thought to be involved in hundreds of government projects, including the much-anticipated railway HS2.
As the collapse of the company was discussed on Question Time in Hereford last night, one woman asked: “We’re looking at what went wrong with the company, but my question is more: 'Why did Chris Grayling award them billion pound contracts after there had been a profits warning and a drop in share price?′
“I think that’s the question people want to know.”
Later in the show, American filmmaker Dustin Lance Black - who was sitting on the panel - earned himself whoops and hollers from the audience after arguing that it it misguided to direct too much anger towards private companies without acknowledging the state’s role in governing them.
“You can’t keep blaming the private company,” he said. “Private companies are built on profit - that’s what they’re supposed to do.
“But that is not what the state is supposed to do. The government is supposed to be looking out for the people.”
Yesterday, business secretary Greg Clark met with a task force assembled to support small businesses and workers affected by the Carillion crisis.
According to the BBC, the Conservative Cabinet minister said: ”[This meeting] got key people round the table to drive forward steps that we believe can give confidence to workers and the supply chain; support from banks, the ability to link workers with employment and support for apprentices.”