A coalition bust-up was avoided today by Vince Cable’s absence
from the Commons for the urgent question on the Beecroft Report. Tory MP after Tory MP got up to make warm noises about a report which Vince Cable has been gleefully trashing, describing one of its
proposals as ‘bonkers.’
That Cable couldn’t make it back in time from the north of England to appear at the dispatch box will have been a relief to the Tory whips; one of them was distinctly concerned about how the
Tory benches would treat the Business Secretary when he heard about the UQ earlier. Indeed, it was telling that when Chris Heaton-Harris attacked Cable and Lord Oakeshott, Mark Prisk — the
Tory minister answering the question — did not rebuke him.
One other interesting moment came when Liz Truss, one of the Free Enterprise Group of Tory MPs, pushed the government
"http://www.freeenterprise.org.uk/sites/freeenterprise.drupalgardens.com/files/Learning%20lessons%20from%20Germany.pdf">to emulate the Germans in exempting small business from unfair dismissal
rules. Listening on the front bench, Prisk nodded along vigorously. But whether any progress can be made on this front while the Business Department remains under Cable’s charge seems
doubtful after the past 24 hours.