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Points of Order

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2008

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, of which I have given you and the Minister for Borders and Immigration prior notice. My complaint is that I have been pursuing the case of a constituent since December, and in this particular case, when my interest had been established for a long time, a Labour peer, the noble Lord Goldsmith, was informed of the outcome of the constituent’s tragic case and I was not. We jealously guard each other’s rights to represent the interests of our constituents in this House, Mr. Speaker, and I am asking you to support my view that the example of the handling of this case by the Home Office would, if repeated more widely, represent a significant and detrimental change to way that we, as individual Members of Parliament, hold Ministers to account for our constituents.

I have to be careful that I do not get involved in this matter because I do not know all the details. Sometimes correspondence can go to someone in good faith and the Department concerned is not always seeking to give offence to hon. Members. I think that the best reply that I can give the hon. Gentleman is that he has put his concerns on record, and the appropriate Department and Minister will take note of his deep concerns. [Hon. Members: “Where is the Minister?”] I do not know where the Minister is.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the last morning of every month, the Ministry of Justice publishes details of how many prisoners have been released early during the previous month. This morning, the Ministry of Justice published every set of data scheduled to be released except the early release figures. Given that those figures were due to show that almost 25,000 prisoners, and more than 4,000 violent prisoners, have been released early on to our streets, will you invite the Justice Secretary to reassure the House that these figures will be published immediately and that this was not a shabby attempt to bury bad news on the eve of the local elections?

Order. [Interruption.] Order. It is up to Ministers what they publish; it is not a matter for the Chair.

Order. I am not going to invite the right hon. Gentleman to speak—[Interruption.] Order. We have to be careful how we use points of order. I tell the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Nick Herbert) that it may be a point that he wants to raise with the Minister but it is not a point of order, and I will not allow the matter to continue. [Interruption.] Order. Hon. Members are getting into a habit of raising points of order about what Ministers did and failed to do. When a point of order is made, it is a matter for me how I handle it. That is the matter finished. It was not a point of order that the hon. Gentleman raised.