In the middle of Parliamentary proceedings about one of his pet subjects – UK taxpayer-funded aid given to foreign countries – Stephen Doughty (Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth) received a public rebuke from the Speaker for his conduct .
The Secretary of State for International Development – Priti Patel – was opening the second reading of the bill in the Commons when Doughty intervened to ask the minister “Can she explain what has happened since she called for the Department to be scrapped and since she told the Daily Mail this year that most of our aid budget was being “stolen” and “squandered”? …Her words.”
Replying to him, Priti Patel said “The hon. Gentleman has just heard not only what DFID has done in the past under two outstanding Secretaries of State—my predecessors, my right hon. Friends the Members for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and for Putney—which is a legacy that we will stand by in our manifesto commitments, but…
Doughty interrupted her in mid-stream.. although his words were not recorded .
Patel responded to him by saying “If the honourable gentleman wants an answer, he should listen to my response” and carried on with her comments saying “The honourable gentleman [a.k.a Doughty] has also heard me respond to Keith Vaz on the question of humanitarian crises, and many of the immediate needs to which we are responding. Indeed, the honourable gentleman [ again referring to Doughty] will be aware that the very Select Committee of which he is a member is witnessing at first hand how aid is being spent in crisis situations, in refugee camps, and providing opportunities and, frankly, a lifeline, to people around the world who are suffering. That is exactly what my Department is doing and what I am doing as Secretary of State, and I am disappointed that the honourable gentleman….”
There was then a second interruption from Doughty.
The Minister Priti Patel continued – saying “This is not about briefing the press, and, if I may say so, I’m really disappointed – I think the honourable gentleman [a.k.a Doughty]’s remarks do a huge disservice to the international development community. He is sitting there smugly smiling, but it is an international community that comes together….
Priti Patel was then interrupted by Doughty for a third time. What exactly he said was not recorded but it was heard in the house and he had addressed Patel directly as “You” .
This time the Deputy Speaker, Eleanor Laing had had enough – and stepped-in to take Doughty to task. He had evidently forgotten that all comments in the House should be made to the Speaker – and not directly to other members .
She said “ Order. The honourable gentleman [ referring to Doughty] knows that he should not make remarks from a sedentary position, but if he is going to make remarks from a sedentary position, he should not use the word “you” because he should not be accusing me of anything.”.
Later Doughty claimed he had “touched a nerve ” with some of the comments he had made about the bill.