HC Deb 21 October 1998 vol 317 cc1269-70
12. Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

How many meetings he has had with other Ministers to discuss enforcing greater co-ordination of Government policy. [54732]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Dr. Jack Cunningham)

I frequently meet my ministerial colleagues to discuss the co-ordination and presentation of Government policies, and I should be happy to meet my hon. Friend, too, if he so wishes.

Mr. Skinner

Instead of using up valuable time meeting me or anyone else from the Labour Benches, perhaps my right hon. Friend would meet someone else, who I believe is probably undermining Government co-ordination. I refer, of course, to Eddie George. Does my right hon. Friend agree that he should ascertain from him whether he used the words that unemployment in the north is necessary to keep inflation down in the south? If he did, it is time that he went.

Dr. Cunningham

I am sorry that my hon. Friend does not want to meet me to advise me on how I might be more effective in my enforcer role. I understand that there is some doubt about whether Eddie George used the words at which my hon. Friend has understandably taken offence. As for my meeting Mr. George, I think that I will leave that pleasure to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes)

I wonder whether the Minister knows that the members of the Select Committee on Deregulation have been twiddling their thumbs since May 1997, as it has virtually nothing to do. Is he proposing to wind it up or that we should exercise some better regulation, in which case, when does he propose that we should discuss that on the Floor of the House?

Dr. Cunningham

As I think the hon. Gentleman knows, the appointment or disbandment of a Select Committees of the House is, fortunately, not a matter for me. On better regulation, I should be happy to see the hon. Gentleman, and members of the Select Committee, to discuss how we are taking those important issues forward, not only in this country, but in the European Union.