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Points of Order

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 25 November 2008

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for your guidance on the convention regarding written ministerial statements? If one looks at the small print of the pre-Budget report, one finds a number of issues about which one would have expected to have a written ministerial statement, at the very least. For example, there is a statement relating to the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency in my constituency, which employs a large number of people. It says that the Government are intending to examine “alternative business models”. In the normal course of events, we would have expected a written ministerial statement on that, and it seems unreasonable that within the pre-Budget report a number of issues affecting our constituents, people who are working and people who are worried about the future of their jobs, are thrown away in a couple of lines in the footnotes. That is unacceptable and unfair.

I have said that there will be a debate tomorrow, and if the hon. Gentleman catches my eye, he can speak then.

Is it in order for them to pile into this Chamber on an important statement on employment, in which they have shown no interest, in order to demand a statement tomorrow? Why should it be that those who have no interest in the issue of unemployment—because they created so much—should have such a say in this place? [Interruption.]

Order. It is up to right hon. and hon. Members when they come into the Chamber. All I can say is that there have been occasions when I have been sitting in this Chamber when there have just been a few hon. Members attending to important matters. I often wish that they would pile in more often.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Now that you have allowed three days—[Hon. Members: “Three hours!”]—three hours’ debate, may I ask you whether there is any procedural reason why the Leader of the House, who is sitting in her place now, should not rise to alter the business of the House for tomorrow and the day after, to allow a full debate on what has been the most significant Budget statement we have had for the last couple of decades? Would you invite her to do so? We are meant to have control over taxation and public spending in the House, which is what makes us the supreme legislature in the country—in theory.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman must not push his luck. I gave him three hours, not three days. I said that the debate would begin at the commencement of public business tomorrow, so there is no need for the Leader of the House to do anything. I have made a ruling that the debate will take place then.