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Points of Order

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, in a Westminster Hall debate about proportional representation, the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, the right hon. Member for North Swindon (Mr. Wills), gave us a guarantee that the Government would not go ahead with plans for a change to the voting system until after the election—so that they would be re-elected to office. In The Times newspaper today, they state that the Prime Minister is determined to table an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill in this Session to bring forward a referendum on the issue. Will you, Mr. Speaker, use your good offices to ensure that the Minister explains properly to us their intentions in that matter?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I think that he is really just continuing the debate and, dare I say, inviting me to join it. Newspaper articles in The Times and elsewhere are doubtless always of interest, but they do not necessarily constitute the basis for a point of order.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your advice. On several occasions, I have requested a statement in the House on Eccleshill independent sector treatment centre. Yesterday, a secret report on the centre was published that revealed evidence of inadequate safety procedures, consultants refusing to perform operations, incorrect registration, and invalid insurance. People have lost confidence in that facility. Through your good offices, Mr. Speaker, may I ask you how I can raise this in the House? When will the Secretary of State come before the House and finally give a statement to reassure people that it is a safe facility to which they and their relatives can go for procedures?

The hon. Gentleman is a very assiduous Member who loses no opportunity to highlight in the House his concerns on behalf of his constituents. Unfortunately, what he has said does not of itself constitute a point of order. However, I would say to him, first, that he has put his views very clearly on the record, and secondly, that as I heard him warming to his theme, it struck me that he might have very good material for an Adjournment debate.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This afternoon, we are going to debate several groups of amendments and new clauses tabled to the Equality Bill. They are massive groups, and it looks as though we will not get through them in one day. May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if there is anything that could be done by Members of this House, even at this late stage, if we were minded to seek more time to ensure that we are able properly to scrutinise the Bill?

It is often an established principle that it is a good idea to ask a question only when one knows the answer, and I fear that the hon. Gentleman, who is a very experienced parliamentarian, knows that the answer to his question is no. There is nothing that I can do at this stage because, as he will be aware, I am bound by the terms of the programme motion, notwithstanding my own enthusiasm for maximum debate. I fear that I cannot help him on this occasion. Again, however, the hon. Gentleman, on behalf of the people of Oxford, West and Abingdon, has put his views fairly and squarely on the record.