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Points of Order

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 15 June 2006

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In Treasury questions this morning, I asked about the likely cost of the increase in the tax credit disregard. The Paymaster General said that that “the information has been made available to the House.” I have checked with the Library and the Public Accounts Committee, but they are not aware that that information has been passed on to them. I therefore seek your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, on how we can correct that and how, if the right hon. Lady has inadvertently misinformed the House, that can be put right as soon as possible.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The tenfold increase in the disregard is the key element of the package to put right the tax credit problems announced in the pre-Budget report last December. There has been a great deal of controversy about the cost, which the Government have consistently refused to give to the House and to the public. If it has now been made available, it is a serious matter, because it could be well over £1 billion. The Paymaster General appears to have said that it is available, but we cannot ascertain that that is definitely the case. Will you arrange for her to come to the House today, Madam Deputy Speaker, and make a statement to clear the matter up once and for all?

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I asked a question before the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), and the Paymaster General said that the information I sought which, essentially, is the same as that sought by the hon. Gentleman, was in the Budget book or the Budget document—Hansard will reveal which one. I am not saying that it is, but that is what she said.

I understand hon. Members’ concerns, but it is not appropriate to extend Question Time under the guise of points of order. The hon. Members concerned may wish to table further questions to follow up the Paymaster General’s answer.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am concerned about the timeliness of responses to written parliamentary questions, as I tabled a question to the Department for Work and Pensions on 1 December 2005, and received the answer this morning. While I am grateful for the response, Madam Deputy Speaker, is that length of time appropriate for responses to inquiries from Back Benchers?