The missing Minister and the "very, very nice office"

Hell hath no fury like a select committee scorned.

MPs on the Welsh affairs committee made Edwina Hart an offer she could all too easily refuse, and they have not forgotten her reluctance to appear before them.

Knocked back by the Welsh government's business minister, this afternoon they had to make do with two UK cabinet ministers and a peer who used to run one of the world's largest banks.

Business secretary Vince Cable, secretary of state for Wales, Cheryl Gillan and trade minister Lord Green did their best to fill in for the missing minister.

MPs on the committee wondered how often the trio had met Mrs Hart since her appointment six months ago.

Dr Cable shook his head, Lord Green confessed he'd not had the pleasure, although Mrs Gillan had met the elusive Minister - once.

Mrs G had hoped to meet Mrs H "quarterly", although the Welsh business minister had decided twice a year was enough. Mrs Hart had agreed to meet her every six months, "if the Welsh Minister considers there is something we need to talk about".

A Welsh Government source said later that Mrs Hart had asked to meet Dr Cable to discuss the proposed green investment bank, but that request had been declined. The UK business secretary did admit that he and his Welsh counterpart have corresponded via letters.

Should Mrs Hart be worried about hotdesking opportunities at the Whitehall home of the Wales Office, Mrs Gillan was keen to re-assure her.

The Welsh government does have an office in Gwydyr House, the Wales Office HQ, but Mrs Gillan didn't know how often it was used as it was possible to enter and leave without passing the secretary of state's own office.

But she said it was "a very nicely appointed office", adding for emphasis, "it is a very, very nice office".

Welsh government ministers would, she told the committee, be "very welcome guests".