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Point of Order

Volume 505: debated on Tuesday 9 February 2010

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I know how much importance you place on timely answers being provided to questions posed by Members of the House. Could you give me some advice on how I might ensure that the Department for Work and Pensions does a little better at answering its questions? I have tabled 30 questions that have now passed their due date without being answered. To be fair, most of them are due to be answered in February, but the worst instance dates back to 30 November last year. The most embarrassing example is from 14 December, when I asked the Secretary of State how many and what percentage of questions tabled for written answer on a named day had had a substantive answer. Every other Department has managed to answer that question in a timely manner, but I suspect, given that I have not had an answer from the DWP, that its response will be “Not very many”. What can I do to get more timely answers?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I understand why he feels disquiet about this matter. I wondered for a moment whether we were going to get a Cook’s tour of his questions to which Ministers had so far failed to respond. He is right to say that I attach a premium to prompt and informative answers from Ministers to questions from hon. Members, whether those questions are written or oral. He is a keen student of these matters and a regular and substantial tabler of questions, and he will also be aware of the developing system of transparency, whereby it can readily be seen at a glance whether a question has been answered or not.

I would like to say, perhaps a little speculatively, to the hon. Gentleman that I have found, over the years, that when a Member complains about an unanswered question or letter, either through a further question on the Order Paper or by raising a point of order on the Floor of the House, that often serves speedily to concentrate the minds of Ministers. There are a number of Ministers on the Treasury Bench at the moment, and I feel sure that they are listening attentively to the point that the hon. Gentleman has just made. I hope that that is helpful.

Good. If there are no further points of order, we shall move to the presentation of Bills.

bill presented

Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Martin Caton, supported by Colin Challen, Mr. David Heath, Mr. Michael Meacher, Dan Rogerson, Alan Simpson, Dr. Desmond Turner and Joan Walley presented a Bill to set targets relating to energy generation and consumption; to make provision for the sectoral targets to be met; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 March, and to be printed (Bill 64).