Stephen Doughty the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth – who was told-off by the Deputy Speaker last week for his conduct in a House of Commons debate – has now been criticised by a Government Minister in a committee hearing.
Doughty had arrived late for a meeting of the Public Bill Committee which was discussing the Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill – but had an excuse ready: he told the committee “I apologise for my late arrival. I was hosting a general from the British Army.”
Doughty then went on to ask the Minister of State for International Development, Rory Stewart, about a request that the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) had made to the UK Government for £735,000,000. [the CDC is a Government “arm’s-length” public corporation which provides Government and investor financial assistance to help companies in poorer countries expand – thus helping to alleviate poverty.]
The Minister Rory Stewart and Diana Noble the CDC Chief Executive painstakingly explained the procedure for assessing investments and evaluating the recipients of the UK taxpayers’ cash. Whilst he was talking however, it appeared to some that Stephen Doughty was busy texting somebody.
Rory Stewart explained that the priority of the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) was to “not to lose money while doing good, – so we are focused on jobs and economic development without losing money. That is the guiding principle that CDC follows in everything it does.” . The operating principles of the CDC however, appeared not to be favoured by Doughty – who interjected to say “It’s not poverty—?”
This provoked the minister, Rory Stewart, to respond with a stinging rebuke.
He said ” I am sorry; there was a strange comment coming from Mr Doughty who, when he is not texting, throws things from the chair. We believe very strongly that economic development and job creation are absolutely core activities in the elimination of poverty. The distinction that Mr Doughty is trying to draw between economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation is extremely unorthodox and it is not one that the chief economist of our Department, or indeed any of the officials of our Department, would accept” .
[PDN Note: In Civil Service-speak , the term “unorthodox” can be taken to mean “bonkers” ]