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Point of Order

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In a written answer to me on 27 October 2009, Health Ministers claimed that the reason for their delay in publishing the final report from the Nutrition Action Plan Delivery Board, which is examining weaknesses in Government policy on malnutrition, was because the board was “independent of Government” and that there had been a delay by the board’s independent members in producing the report. However, in the same answer the Health Ministers said that the reason for the ongoing delay now that the report is with the Department is that the report now needs to be “considered by Ministers”. Of course, while the delay is ongoing, the appalling burden of malnutrition is getting worse. Is it in order for Ministers to delay the publication of a report that is apparently independent of government, yet which the Government have pledged to publish, when it has, according to the written parliamentary answer, been with Ministers since as far back as “July”?

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) for his point of order and for advance notice of it. Sadly, I must reiterate a central point in this Chamber: that the timing of the release of Government reports is a matter for the Government. The hon. Gentleman has registered his serious discontent with what he regards as an unacceptable delay. The point is on the record, and it will have been heard by Ministers and indeed by others.