Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Thursday, 29 November 2012

Separate Leveson statements 'ludicrous'

The government has been criticised in the House of Lords for allowing two separate responses from Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on the Leveson Report.

Peers were told that both statements would be repeated in the House of Lords on 29 November 2012.

The leader of the House, Lord Strathclyde, said he would repeat Mr Cameron's statement after which Liberal Democrat peers' leader Lord McNally would repeat Mr Clegg's statement.

Deputy leader of Labour peers Lord Hunt of Kings Heath branded it a "ludicrous episode" made necessary by a coalition "so comprehensively divided".

"When you speak are you going to speak for the government? When Lord McNally speaks will he speak on behalf of the government. Or do we have two governments, or no government?" he asked Lord Strathclyde.

Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord Forsyth of Drumlean said: "We need someone to tell us what the government's policy is. We can't have a pick and mix approach to government.

"Are we to find that ministers speaking from the front bench give two answers to the same question and what conclusion can we reach if they give different answers to the same question?"

Conservative peer and former MP Lord Cormack said it was "an extraordinary state of affairs".

Lord Strathclyde told the Lords: "The prime minister set up this inquiry on behalf of the government and he will make his statement on behalf of the government in the House of Commons and I will repeat it here.

"The deputy prime minister has taken the opportunity to make a separate statement that will represent a view of the second party of the coalition."

He conceded it was "unprecedented in living memory" but added: "I gather in the 1930s this sort of arrangement took place."

The exchanges came at the end of the daily question session in the Lords, which covered standards of care for people with HIV, social care apprenticeships and voluntary registration of social care workers, energy policy, and flooding.

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