MANDELSON COULD FACE ‘DE FACTO DEPUTY PM’ QUESTION TIME IN LORDS

The House of Lords agreed this afternoon (Tuesday) to introduce a special question time session for Lord Mandelson, who is First Secretary of State.

Lib Dem Peer Lord Tyler asked the Lord Brabazon of Tara, who is in charge of House procedure as Chairman of Committees, to confirm that the regular question time sessions – to start in the New Year – would be confined to Lord Mandelson’s departmental responsibilities.

In response, Lord Brabazon said “the proposal at the moment is that the two departmental Secretaries of State should answer Questions in this House on their departmental responsibilities—as far as I can see, that means the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, on transport and the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, on almost everything else.”

Commenting afterwards, Lord Tyler said:

“The Chairman of Committees appears to agree with me that Lord Mandelson, like other First Secretaries of State before him, is effectively Deputy Prime Minister.

“As such, like previous Deputy Prime Ministers – John Prescott and Michael Heseltine – he should be answerable to one House or other on the whole range of government policy.

“Next year it seems that we may get a full-scale Deputy Prime Minister’s Question Time with Lord Mandelson, as First Secretary of State. This could rival the weekly PMQ exchanges in the Commons.

“I imagine Gordon Brown may now worry that his Deputy will give a better performance.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors: The full exchange is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldtoday/05.htm#hddr_4 for this evening and then under the day’s Hansard entry from www.parliament.uk/hansard/hansard.cfm as of 8am tomorrow morning.

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