International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has been accused of “unacceptable” behaviour after rejecting an invitation to speak before a select committee.
Angus MacNeil MP, chairman of the International Trade Committee said that Ms Truss showed a “desire to evade parliamentary scrutiny” after declining to speak to before ministers on the committee.
The Secretary of State told the committee that she would be unable to attend ahead of the prorogation of Parliament, which is due to take place next week.
— International Trade Committee (@CommonsIntTrade) September 3, 2019
The committee said it wished to speak with Ms Truss as soon as possible to monitor the work of her department.
If Ms Truss continues to reject the invitation and the prorogation of Parliament takes place as proposed, it is understood the committee would have roughly two weeks left to scrutinise ahead of the Brexit deadline.
Mr MacNeil said: “With just 58 days until Brexit, the trade bill set to become a victim of Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament – and warnings about the dire consequences of a no-deal departure being sounded by businesses and citizens alike – the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse my Committee’s invitation is simply unacceptable.
“I can only hope that she does not take a similarly cavalier approach to the complex, painstaking task of formulating future trade policy.
“I sincerely hope that the Secretary of State considers the implications of this refusal and reconsiders her decision.”
Cabinet members are not compelled to attend select committee meetings, but it is understood that the International Trade Committee expected Ms Truss to accept their invitation.
Members of the Cabinet are not punished for rejecting requests to speak before select committees, however members of the public can be found in contempt of Parliament.
Dominic Cummings, special political adviser to the Prime Minister, was ruled to be in contempt of Parliament earlier this year after failing to appear before MPs investigating fake news.
A Department for International Trade spokesman said: “Owing to diary commitments and minimal notice, the Secretary of State for International Trade will not be able to attend the International Trade Committee before the end of this parliamentary session.
“We have always been committed to being transparent and inclusive when communicating our future trading arrangements and policy.
“The department will be writing to the committee to seek a different date for the Secretary of State to appear.”