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Points of Order

Volume 447: debated on Wednesday 14 June 2006

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On 16 May, a Health Minister informed the House that Hertfordshire would be served by two primary care trusts, as part of the shake-up of PCTs. However, I fear that both I and the Minister have been misled by the East of England strategic health authority, which has written to me today to say that

“the two PCT Boards should be served by one management team and one Chief Executive.”

To all intents and purposes, that sounds like one PCT in everything but name. How can I best alert the Minister to that slipperiness and obfuscation, so that he can deal with it?

I advise the hon. Gentleman to apply for an Adjournment debate. It sounds like an excellent subject.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In a written answer that I received from the Home Office last Friday, it was revealed that 23 life prisoners—who had been released on licence and who therefore should have been supervised by the Home Office—had gone on the run. That is a clear indication that this Government do not enforce life sentences properly. Today, it has emerged that the Prime Minister told The Sun newspaper, outside the House, that he backs its excellent campaign that life should mean life. However, no Home Office Minister has come to the House to explain—

Order. One thing that the hon. Gentleman must not do is draw the Speaker into the argument. That is the last thing he wants to do.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I submitted a named day question to the Home Secretary on 26 April concerning the very important issue of foreign prisoner releases from Peterborough prison in my constituency. Six weeks later, I have yet to receive a substantive answer. I seek your guidance on what I believe to be the shoddy treatment of a Back Bencher attempting to fulfil his duty in holding the Executive to account.

An earlier point of order on this subject was raised about 10 days ago by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash). I took it up, and I assure the House that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is very concerned about the backlog in answering parliamentary questions and is working with his ministerial team to ensure that it is dealt with as quickly as possible. However, I must tell the House that the number of parliamentary questions that the Home Office receives has shot up in recent weeks. That is understandable, given the public concern, but although it is important that hon. Members’ questions are answered in a timely way, the House will know that it is also important that they are answered accurately and comprehensively. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, and the House, that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and all his Ministers are fully seized of the issue.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During Prime Minister’s questions, you quite rightly admonished a Labour Member who was sitting in the Gangway for shouting at the Leader of the Opposition. Am I not right in thinking that the Gangway is not technically part of the Chamber, and that there was thus an added abuse of the House? Will you take steps to ensure that the abuse of the Gangway is discontinued?

As far as I am concerned, the Gangway is part of the House, and if there is disorder there I will cause it to cease, which is how I handled the situation.

We have too many MPs talking—that is the problem. Hon. Members cannot speak from the Gangway. I dealt with the matter and it is finished.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the light of your advice to my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), may we request that a Home Office Minister come to the House to make a statement about life prisoners being released and absconding?

The hon. Gentleman is a new Member, so I will try to help by explaining what happens. A request for an urgent question can be made to the Speaker every morning, but I give no guarantee that the request will be agreed to.