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Points of Order

Volume 447: debated on Wednesday 21 June 2006

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps you can give me some guidance. In an answer on 24 May, the Prime Minister told me that

“a new £32 million hospital opened in March 2005—the…Honeybourne specialist rehabilitation and recovery centre.”—[Official Report, 24 May 2006; Vol. 446, c. 1477.]

In a question answered by the Secretary of State for Health—

Order. I am going to stop the hon. Gentleman there. The answer that a Minister gives is nothing to do with the Chair. He will have to table more questions to get the clarification and answers that he wants, as he already knows.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health on 11 May, urging her to review a decision that she had taken on the location of a critical care hospital, in which she had overruled the recommendations of local managers and clinicians in the health community. I have not had even an acknowledgment of that letter.

On the substance of my point of order, the right hon. Lady is now being judicially reviewed, and you will have heard yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the frustrations of the hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) at not being able to arrange a meeting with Health Ministers. I am proposing to table a named day question to try to find out when I am going to get a reply to my letter and a response to the issue that I raised, but the Department of Health comes up constantly in complaints to you because Members of Parliament cannot get a reply out of it. Is there anything that you can do to get that Department, above all others, to answer our inquiries?

The Leader of the House will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said. I am sure that he will act on it.

I have a bit of good news. Since the hon. Gentleman is so concerned about the hon. Member for Chorley not being able to get his meeting, I am sure he will be very pleased to know that because the hon. Member for Chorley raised the matter on the Floor of the House, he has been able to get his meeting.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A young girl in Shrewsbury in my constituency has been raped by a failed African asylum seeker. I have been trying hard to find out the person’s immigration status by repeatedly asking questions of the Home Office through the Table Office, but to no avail. Will you advise me on how I can find out that information?

I am very sorry that that terrible incident happened in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, but I repeat that perseverance is the most important weapon that a Back Bencher has. The hon. Gentleman must keep asking the questions, seek Adjournment debates and ask the Ministers concerned for a meeting; he is entitled to do that. It is important that he, as a representative of his constituency, ensures that he leaves no stone unturned in such matters.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Deputy Prime Minister said that local authorities could repossess houses if they had been empty for years. I may be wrong, but I think that he inadvertently misled the House, because it is, indeed, six months. What advice can you give on how I can go about correcting that error in Hansard, if indeed it was an error?

There are lots of senior Members around the hon. Gentleman. He should go to them in the Tea Room and have a word on how to go about such matters. They will be able to help him.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will have heard the Deputy Prime Minister answer my question earlier and state that he was not obliged to give information about who had visited Dorneywood because no public money was involved. On 21 January 2002, he gave a similar answer about why he would not give information on that matter, but subsequently in a written answer he had to correct it, stating:

“I regret that my answer was incorrect since there are some costs to the public purse in the Government’s use of…Dorneywood”.—[Official Report, 28 January 2002; Vol. 379, c. 92W.]

Under those circumstances, the Deputy Prime Minister would appear to have inadvertently misled the House again today in giving a reason for not answering my question. Can you help, Mr. Speaker, to secure a proper answer and to have the Deputy Prime Minister correct that?

The hon. Gentleman will know that I cannot enter into the substance of the matter that he raises. I observe, however, that the resolution of the House on page 74 of “Erskine May” requires that if a Minister gives incorrect information to the House it should be corrected at the first opportunity. The hon. Gentleman can of course also pursue the matter through parliamentary questions.