"Yes, yes. What do you want me to do? OK, don't worry, I'll be back in Edinburgh at the weekend. Give me a number and I'll phone you at your convenience. I'll come and see you on either Saturday or Sunday." He takes down a number and ends the call.
He then barks across the room at me: "That was one of my constituents, a lady who has a disabled son who can't make it into my constituency office to see me, so I've got to go and see her."
An act of kindness by a compassionate MP? No doubt, but it feels as if the conversation were somehow stage-managed to show the busy and energetic junior minister in the best possible light. It's the impression Nigel Griffiths has given from the moment I walked into his office. He continued to type through the introductions and continued long after they had finished, until he decided the interview might begin.
Construction people who have met Griffiths have compared his appearance and personality to that of the chancellor, Gordon Brown. And Griffiths looks similar, with jet black hair and pallid skin. He also has a broad Scottish accent and a fast, domineering conversational style, which add to the resemblance. It's a comparison he probably welcomes, and he's shown his relish for political life since his election as MP for Edinburgh South – a traditional Tory seat.
Prior to becoming an MP, Griffiths was a senior councillor in Edinburgh. He also helped to develop programmes to tackle poor quality housing and homelessness and worked with Anita Roddick to found the Big Issue magazine in Scotland.
So, after six months in the job, what does construction's representative think of the industry? Griffiths says he sees no problems in the sector. He believes the industry to be "forward-thinking" and keen to "stay ahead of competition internationally". And next month he is doing his bit to promote British construction abroad by heading off on a trade mission to Brazil. He is taking a delegation of major construction firms with him to show off the UK's PPP system.
While Griffiths is sunning himself in Rio, he wants British workers and contractors to help rebuild war-torn Iraq, despite serious security fears.
"I think it's the other side of the coin," he says. "We have many foreign workers in construction in this country, so British workers should help on the international stage by helping to rebuild places like Iraq." A novel argument, perhaps, and one that doesn't seem to fully recognise the present situation in that country.
But Griffiths does have knowledge of rebuilding countries destroyed by war. He co-founded the Scottish charity Kosovo Appeal, which raised £3m and helped to rebuild 8000 homes in the region. This experience may explain his sympathetic attitude to foreign workers in the UK.
We have many foreign workers in construction in this country, so British workers should help on the international stage by helping to rebuild places like Iraq
Griffiths dismisses claims that foreign workers are responsible for an increase in site accidents. He believes such people are needed to help the government deliver its public service reforms. He brushes aside anecdotal evidence from construction unions that foreign workers with poor English skills are causing havoc. "If your magazine has any evidence of how foreign workers have caused accidents, I will be pleased to see it," he says.
He points out that a fellow MP recently passed on a letter from one of his constituents alleging that foreign workers on a local site were working illegally. But upon investigation it emerged that all the workers had a legal right to work in the UK.
However, Griffiths does recognise the need to clamp down on the "real threat" of illegal workers, whether foreign or British.
Where Griffiths is uncompromising is on the issue of site safety, which he takes "very seriously". He believes that contractors need to realise that "a fatality on one of their sites could go beyond the individual tragedy and will severely damage their reputation". So what is he, as construction minister, going to do to make the industry more safe?
Well, for a start, he thinks that training has got to improve. He speedily rattles off the numbers of apprentices being trained in the UK and points to top-level meetings he has had on the subject. "I had a meeting with officials from Number 10 just this week to make sure that there is joined-up government, and with Charles Clarke in the Department for Education about delivering improved skills to the industry," he says. This is on top of £300m that the government invested into the Construction Industry Training Board last month to ensure that training needs were being adequately funded.
Griffiths seems to be listening to the industry. In the first few months as minister, he wrote to nearly every construction organisation requesting their input and suggestions. Perhaps this was done to fend off the kind of criticism that his predecessor Brian Wilson faced for not attending enough industry events – Griffiths has been to everything.
Griffiths says he is working tirelessly across government to make sure that the construction industry gets a "steady flow" of contracts from the procurement sections of government departments. He says he wants to make sure that the granting of contracts is not being bogged down in red tape. And he is confident the industry can deliver once the contracts are in place.
Ever the workaholic, Griffiths reveals how committed the government is to tackling the implementation of its anti-cowboy builder initiative, the quality mark. This has signed up only 500 contractors in two years. "I'm expecting a massive increase in the amount of contractors signing up to it," he says.
He will be addressing all the places where there are regional launches. The government is committed to this." He is confident it will happen and that there will be a successful consumer launch of the scheme soon.