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Points of Order

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 10 December 2008

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to raise this point of order while the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is still in his place. Tomorrow is the third anniversary of the Buncefield disaster in my constituency, and it will also see the conclusion of the health and safety inquiry chaired by Lord Newton. I praise Lord Newton and his team for the work that they have done. However, this means that, from tomorrow, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will no longer be responsible for that part of my constituency that has been destroyed. Many homes there are still uninhabitable and thousands of people are unable to return to their business premises, either because they have been levelled or because they are in a dangerous condition. Mr. Speaker, has any Minister told you that they intend to come to the House, three years after the disaster, to take responsibility for the rebuilding of my constituency, following a disaster that had nothing to do with any of my constituents?

All I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that that is not a point of order, but what happened three years ago was a tragic situation. I can understand that any constituency Member of Parliament would want to highlight the problems that still exist three years on. I suggest that he applies for an Adjournment debate, to which the appropriate Minister could come to the Floor of the House to respond.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Last Thursday, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury made a written statement to the House concerning the closure programme of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs offices. Of the Lerwick office in my constituency, it was said that it was to be retained, as the

“original analysis of staffing projections and available accommodation identified a good match.”

Since that statement was made, however, I have learned that, of the three staff employed in that office, two are now to be deployed in another Government Department, and a third—the last remaining HMRC employee in my constituency—is to be transferred to the Inverness office. If that is not a closure, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what is. What can you do to protect my constituents when Government Departments go about their business in this way, which, to say the very least, lacks the candour that we are entitled to expect?

The hon. Gentleman has put his remarks on the record. I hope that the appropriate Ministers read them and take note of his concern.