The idea that the Leader of the Government should be quizzed on questions of the moment - and be expected and prepared to provide answers - is, in principle, one that throws a good light on any democratic system. If only that happened..........
Today, we saw an abdication of the opportunity to question the Prime Minister on a matter which should have been at the forefront of every MP's mind - the potential of the ramifications involved in a possible 'Irish Bail-Out'. I can but quote from Graham Stewart, writing on Critical Reaction:
"There is so much that needs to be discussed with regard to the Irish bailout. Is the commitment being given willingly, or because of an inescapable condition arising from Alistair Darling’s final act as Chancellor when he agreed to making the UK an underwriter for almost 14 per cent of euro bailout funds? Will £7 billion be sufficient? What undertaking can the British Government give that it is not throwing good money after bad and that it will not soon be tapped for further billions? Will it be prepared to do likewise for Portugal which seems poised to follow Ireland’s dismal example? If the argument is that the Irish bailout will cost less than having to rescue RBS’s exposure to Ireland’s collapse, then PMQs should have been the public forum in which to hear directly from the Prime Minister his calculation of the balance of competing claims."
Indeedy - Just WTF is going on here? Exactly how much is the UK liable for within each scenario - Ireland, Portugal etc? What effect is this potential liability going to have on the finances of UK plc? How are the Coalition planning on catering for this in their budget considerations? If the UK is liable for more than the estimated £7bn for Ireland, what further cuts - or borrowing - might be needed to meet our commitments to the EU?
Oh - and one final question - WTF do we pay our Government and these backbench MPs for, exactly?