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Points of Order

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 14 June 2007

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During business questions I named the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) without having informed her office beforehand. I have been in the House long enough now to realise that that was a mistake, and I apologise to the House.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his apology. I would add that he also did not take the trouble to contact me to check whether the comments attributed to me, which were taken directly from a Sunday tabloid, were accurate. I wish to inform the House that the comments attributed to me in no way reflected the lengthy conversation that I had with the reporter involved. I am just as concerned as any Member of the House to ensure that our armed forces receive excellent medical treatment, which they are receiving at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak. They are receiving treatment at the cutting edge of what is available, healing wounds that in the past would never have been able to receive treatment. I hope that the inquiry by the Defence Committee will reflect—

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As a humble Back Bencher, may I seek your assistance and advice? With the aid of the Table Office, I have for some time been trying to find out how much the Ministry of Defence spends on feeding Ministry of Defence dogs. With the aid of the Table Office, I received an answer on 5 March which stated:

“The information requested is not held centrally and would vary depending on the breed . . . of the dog.”—[Official Report, 5 March 2007; Vol. 457, c. 1648W.]

We tried again, with the aid of the Table Office, and on 23 March I was told that I could not be given the answer as the cost would be disproportionate. Last night a very good journalist from the Daily Mail phoned the Ministry of Defence to ask the question, and 15 minutes later received an answer—an answer that we do not believe, but the journalist was given an answer. Is it not disrespectful to the House if we do not get answers to questions, but journalists do in 15 minutes?

Order. Just before the Leader of the House answers, may I say that it is disrespectful to the House and disrespectful to a former Grenadier guardsman that such answers should be given. I hope we can find out how much it costs to feed Army dogs.

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue. I have some information, though not all of it. I am happy to provide him with the information that I have, and I will also follow up the point that he raises. Let me make this clear, and I am sure I speak for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence: if information can be made available to the press, it ought to be made available to the House.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 83A(7) (Programme motions),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information) Bill for the purpose of supplementing the Order of 18th December 2006 (Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information) Bill (Programme)):

Consideration of Lords Amendment

1. Proceedings on consideration of the Lords Amendment shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement at this day’s sitting.

Subsequent stages

2. Any further Message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without any Question being put.

3. The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement. —[Liz Blackman.]

Question agreed to.