Lord Birt

Oral Answers to Questions — Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Cabinet Office)

Lord Birt is the Prime Minister's unpaid strategy adviser. He provides the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers with advice on a wide range of issues. He is also a member of the Cabinet Office strategy board and the civil service reform programme board.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank the Minister for that content-free answer. We will rely on the Kremlinologists to find out what Lord Birt is actually doing. Given that he has a major and disproportionate influence on the Prime Minister, despite the fact that all he has ever done is nearly wreck the BBC, is it not about time we found out what he was doing? Is it not time he was accountable to the House? Will the Minister start by publishing his work programme?

Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Cabinet Office)

If the hon. Gentleman thinks my answer was content-free, he should have seen the first one that I was given to read out. He has taken a close interest in what Lord Birt does in Government and asked for Lord Birt to be accountable to the House. We need a sense of proportion in all this. Lord Birt is the Prime Minister's unpaid strategy adviser. The Prime Minister is entitled to receive advice on that basis from whomsoever he chooses. That is a matter for the Prime Minister, not the hon. Gentleman, who of course is president of the obsessive conspiracy theorists club.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Has Lord Birt been using the office provided for him by the Government to hold business meetings with clients of McKinsey and Co.?

Photo of John Hutton John Hutton Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Cabinet Office)

No. The hon. Gentleman asked about Lord Birt's office, which is at No. 10. Very recently, Lord Birt's ceiling fell in at his office at No. 10, which will probably help him in his blue-skies thinking.