HC Deb 28 March 1983 vol 40 cc18a-b
34. Mr. Canavan

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will consider ways of improving the working of Parliament to ensure more accountability of Ministers to the House.

Mr. Biffen

I am always willing to consider proposals for strengthening ministerial accountability to Parliament.

Mr. Canavan

If the Prime Minister insists upon using her patronage powers to give Cabinet posts to non-elected Members of the House of Lords, will the right hon. Gentleman make such Ministers accountable to the elected representatives of the people by making arrangements for them occasionally to be summoned to the Bar of the House to answer questions? In the recent Anderson Strathclyde scandal, was it not an absolute disgrace that Lord Cockfield was allowed to hide behind inaccurate press releases rather than explain his conduct to us?

Mr. Biffen

I shall ignore and dismiss the hon. Gentleman's ungenerous references to my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade. The hon. Gentleman is a little archaic in supposing that relationships between the two Houses of Parliament must be conducted at the Bar of the House. Select Committees of the House can invite those from another place to give evidence whenever they so wish.