Brown and Cook Head List of the 'Arrogant' Ministers

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Byline: CHRIS BUCKLAND

A SECRET dossier is being prepared accusing 'arrogant' ministers of trying to undermine Parliament's watchdog committees.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Chancellor Gordon Brown head the list of shame as the worst offenders following a series of bitter rows with the MPs charged with holding them to account for the way they perform their duties.

The issue has been brought to a head by last week's revelation that Mr Cook was slipped the leaked draft of a highly-critical report of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee into the arms-for-Africa affair.

Now the Labour-dominated House Liaison Committee, made up of all 27 chairmen of the select committees which probe every aspect of Government policy, has been asked to consider the unprecedented step of going public with the criticisms.

This could lead to a formal complaint to the Commons authorities about the way some ministers deliberately try to impede the work of the committees by delaying documents and refusing to appear before them.

Accusations include one from chairman of the Social Security Committee, Liberal Democrat Archy Kirkwood, who said the Chancellor refused to appear on the grounds that he and his ministers should only appear before the Treasury Select Committee.

In a formal note, he said: 'We were concerned that this doctrine might result in a diminution of the effectiveness of other select committees. …