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Forgot about Dray

On Tuesday Lord Drayson was still minister for procurement at the Ministry of Defence. On Wednesday morning a coroner ruled that a snafu in the military supply chain had meant that vital equipment for neutralising roadside bombs was not supplied to troops in Basra in 2004, and consequently a 19 year-old fusilier was killed unlawfully when his vehicle hit one. On Wednesday morning it was announced that Lord Drayson was no longer minister for procurement at the Ministry of Defence, as he had taken a “leave of absence” from the government to go and take part in the Le Mans 24-hour motor race. There is, however, no connection between the two events, and it’s the height of distaste to suggest otherwise.

Noble Lords were disconcerted and indignant to find that the minister they had thought they would be facing in Wednesday’s debate was a baroness who had not even been a minister in the Lords before (though she has years of experience in the Commons). A few aspersions were cast on the ex-minister’s good name, though most were sportingly lordly about it all and said what a splendid job he had done. The minister winding up for the government at the end of the debate, Lord Malloch-Brown of the FO, said:
Lord Malloch-Brown: I assure those who see a conspiracy in the timing of his departure that only at the end of October did it become clear that this gentle Peer during the week was such a ruthless driver at the weekends that he succeeded in the UK GT series and therefore qualified for the Le Mans series in America starting next year.
This is the Paul Drayson, by the way, who was Labour’s biggest single donor in 2004, parting with £1 million of the fortune he made with his revolutionary Powderject needle-free injection system, which in turn has left the UK with the intriguing possibility that up to 18,000 people inoculated against TB as schoolchildren may not be quite as inoculated as they thought.

My favourite reference to the rapidly disappearing Lord yesterday came from, perhaps unsurprisingly, Lord Selsdon:
Lord Selsdon: My final question addresses the sad departure of the noble Lord, Lord Drayson. I did not think he was a suitable person when he arrived in the House, but when he left I thought he had done an extraordinarily good job. He and I had only one thing in common: my father spent most of his life, and all our family money, motor-racing—and he won Le Mans.
During the course of his speech at the end of yesterday’s seven-and-a-half-hour debate on foreign policy, Lord Malloch-Brown made all the right noises about the coroner’s verdict:
Lord Malloch-Brown: The tragic death of Fusilier Gentle is a notable example of a case in which both the coroner and the MoD’s own inquiry have confirmed that there were indeed mistakes in the logistical chain that meant that the vehicle was not equipped with the kind of devices that might have saved the fusilier’s life. We have expressed our deep regret to his widow.
Five minutes later, while he was still speaking, he was passed a note.
Lord Malloch-Brown: I should also note that when I expressed condolences to Mrs Gentle, I should have made it clear that she is not the fusilier’s widow but his mother.
Not that this in any way reflects the way the big ministries view and deal with grieving relatives.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 8th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)
And he snubbed our heros


because he'd organised a helicopter crash to dispose of his rival
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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