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Points of Order

Volume 490: debated on Wednesday 1 April 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Last Wednesday, there was a House of Commons meeting between Leeds MPs and the Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber to discuss the Leeds Arena scheme. Despite the fact that I tabled an early-day motion in support of the scheme and have been very vocal about it, I was not invited to attend that meeting. As you are aware, this is not the first time it has happened, as the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, wrongly accused me of not going to a meeting that I was not even invited to. Do you agree that when there is a meeting between Ministers and Leeds MPs, all Leeds MPs should be invited, not just Labour ones?

That is not a matter for me, but I would say that if there were an issue affecting Glasgow, I, as a Glasgow Member of Parliament, would expect to be invited to any meeting. I convey that message: if a meeting is specifically for Leeds Members of Parliament, I would expect every Leeds MP to be invited. That is a simple courtesy that should be extended to every Member of Parliament, no matter what city or region we are talking about.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, Langley Park school for boys in my constituency suffered a cut of 3.7 per cent. in its sixth-form funding for some 600 pupils. That cut takes effect today and I understand that it is not the only school affected in this way. Have you received a request from the Secretary of State for Culture, Schools and Families to come to explain to the House what is wrong with the learning and skills councils and what he plans to do to fix these appalling cuts, which could mean many teachers losing their jobs?

That is not a matter for the Chair. It is up to Ministers to come to the House to make statements.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Home Office has in recent times developed a habit of issuing written parliamentary answers to the media before they are received by Members of Parliament. That was taken to an extreme last weekend when it issued a written parliamentary statement to the media on Sunday, when it would clearly have been impossible for an MP to gain access to it until the following day. May I ask you, if you are in a position to do so, to issue guidance to Departments stating that it is inappropriate to issue formal written parliamentary questions to the media before Members have had a chance to receive and read them?

If the hon. Gentleman is categorically saying that this was a written parliamentary statement, then it should be put to the House of Commons first. I will look further into this matter and I take it very seriously. Let me be specific: a parliamentary statement must not be issued to any body other than this House of Commons.

Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should make it clear that I was referring to written parliamentary questions. [Hon. Members: “Written answers.”] I mean written parliamentary answers.

A written answer is different from a statement. A written answer should be published for the House of Commons. Obviously, if a Member of Parliament has tabled a question, the answer should go to that Member of Parliament first, and it should not be produced on a Sunday when Members of Parliament are working and doing other things. I shall have to look into the matter, because a rebutting argument may be presented, but that is what I say.