UK Politics

Keith Vaz throws civil servant out of Home Affairs Committee

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Media captionMr Robbins was told he was excused from the committee

A senior civil servant has been thrown out of a Home Affairs Committee hearing for giving "unsatisfactory" answers.

Oliver Robbins, Home Office second permanent secretary, drew criticism from MPs after sidestepping a series of questions about the Border Force budget - and was threatened with contempt.

After just 20 minutes, chairman Keith Vaz ordered him to leave the session.

Mr Robbins was told to return to the Home Office and provide the answers by the end of the working day.

Mr Vaz said: "I'm going to excuse you from this committee because I think your evidence so far has been unsatisfactory."

'Not easy'

The Whitehall mandarin had been asked by the committee whether Sir Charles Montgomery, the organisation's director general, had been told what his budget was for the year.

Sir Charles, who reports to Mr Robbins, had previously told the committee he expected to know the figure by the start of the financial year.

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Image caption Mr Vaz threatened to hold the civil servant in contempt

Mr Robbins said it was "not easy to answer it in a simple yes or no".

But a clearly irritated Mr Vaz said someone of Mr Robbins' position should know the answer to the question whether "someone below them knows what their budget is or not".

"It is extremely unsatisfactory," he added, and said he expected the answer from Mr Robbins by 18:00 BST.

Mr Vaz also said he would be writing to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to complain.

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