Opposition Day — [4th Allotted Day]
Eric Joyce (PPS (Rt Hon John Hutton, Secretary of State), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform; Falkirk, Labour)
I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Let me just say that if they want to become personalised and politicised and to earn lots of money from interests that they do not declare before they make a speech, that will enormously devalue how they are perceived. That would be a great pity, as it would devalue their advice and their comments, which would be highly regrettable.
Let me make one final point. The hon. Member for Mid-Norfolk—as ever, he makes very good points— referred to the important relationship between Ministers and chiefs of staff. That really is important. General Jackson has made many comments recently, and I sometimes think that he is being criticised for having been highly professional about how he conducted that relationship. Perhaps it is time for the former chiefs of staff in the other place to reflect on whether they think that their co-ordinated and politicised outburst of a couple of weeks ago helped or hindered the relationship between Ministers and the current chiefs of staff. If a Minister is chatting to a chief of staff about the important issues of the day, he might be thinking that in a couple of months' or a year's time, that chief of staff will be quoting personal conversations or behaviour and slagging him off personally. That is highly regrettable. The former chiefs of staff next door have done considerable damage. I know that they will not be embarrassed. From what I can see of them, they are not embarrassed at anything as they think that they are above politics. Well, they are not.