Yesterday public health minister Anna Soubry and Andrew Black, head of tobacco policy at the Department of Health, were summoned to attend a meeting of the European Scrutiny Committee which scrutinises draft EU legislation on behalf of the House of Commons.
Members (MPs) were unhappy they hadn't been given the opportunity to scrutinise draft proposals to revise the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). Reading between the lines, they were furious.They have a right to be furious too, because Soubry and Black surreptitiously crept off to Europe to make decisions on behalf of the government and people of this country without consulting a democratically-elected committee as they are supposed to do.
Or, as Clark puts it.
To sum up:
A committee of elected MPs has been denied the opportunity to scrutinise far-reaching proposals put forward for discussion by unelected EU bureaucrats.
A UK government minister, having failed to correspond with the relevant committee, took it upon herself to "agree and negotiate" UK government support for hugely controversial measures such as a ban on menthol cigarettes.
The chairman of the committee believes that there has been a breach of the rules. I would put it a little stronger than that. It's scandalous. So much for Parliament. So much for open and democratic government.Quite.
Do go read the whole shameful story, it will astound you.
Then ask yourself this - where is the outrage from Labour? Yesterday at PMQs, Labour MP after Labour MP rose to condemn what they imagined was a case of one individual interfering in government business.
On the same afternoon, though, a Tory minister was excluding parliament entirely and committing the country to EU laws on the say-so of, well, herself and herself alone.
If Labour are going to allow such sleazy actions from a Conservative - and you know how they love to attack Conservatives - without so much as a murmur of criticism, you have to wonder which industry's lobbyists might be pulling their strings, eh?
You can watch the committee's grilling of Soubry in the ParliamentLive.tv clip below.
Whiffs like a week old trout, doesn't it?