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Points of Order

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 28 October 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make clear my displeasure at the fact that a written ministerial statement pertaining to today’s debate has in fact not been released. The Government have announced publication of the responses to the consultation on local spending reports, but I find it curious, to put it generously, that the statement is being published on the day of the debate. I find it incredible that Members were not given the courtesy of seeing the statement, and that it is still not available in the Library of the House as late as 12 minutes past 1. Not only is that a grave discourtesy to Members of all parties, who have worked together in a non-partisan way on the issue of local spending reports, but it makes a mockery of the Chamber being used in any meaningful form.

I believe that there was a similar incident the Thursday before last, Mr. Speaker, when you described it as a grave discourtesy to Members that a statement was made available only one hour before a debate. I should like to know what your view is of the fact that the statement pertaining to today’s debate has not yet been made available.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order and for giving me advance notice of it. My view is straightforward: I regard the situation as extremely unsatisfactory. A statement of that kind ought to be delivered in a timely way. If it has not been, we need to know why and the matter needs to be put right. Above all, I hope that there will not be a repetition. It is a discourtesy to Members of the House.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I address this point to you in your capacity as custodian of the interests of those who work in the Westminster village. You will be aware of the speculation surrounding the leaking of Sir Christopher Kelly’s report and the impact that that is having upon a lot of individuals who work for MPs or are members of MPs’ families. I do not believe that it is tolerable that that speculation should be allowed to continue until next Wednesday.

It is well known that the report has been completed and is at the printers at the moment. I wonder whether it is within your power, Mr. Speaker, to order that the report should be published as soon as possible so that the speculation can be ended and we can answer questions from our staff based upon the facts in the report rather than speculation.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. It is not a parliamentary report that is being produced, and although I note that he either thinks that it is within my power to do as he asks or wishes to extend my power to ensure that it is, the present situation is that it is not. The report is due to be delivered to the Government by 4 November and published on that date.

I have heard the very serious point about the leakage that has taken place, and I say to the hon. Gentleman, who is an immensely experienced and perspicacious parliamentarian, that if he wants to address his concern to representatives of the Government, business questions might be a suitable opportunity for him to do so. I have a hunch that he will probably be there.