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Points of Order

Volume 519: debated on Monday 22 November 2010

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Minister for Housing and Local Government, the right hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), has been out and about in the TV and radio studios describing the biggest change to social housing for a generation, and one of those reforms could mean that people who get a pay rise could be evicted from their social homes. On the “Today” programme he said:

“I don’t want to overstep the mark and announce something to you which is actually properly being announced to Parliament later”.

A consultation document has been published, and the period of time in question is only eight weeks, not 12. We are told that this consultation will inform the localism Bill which we have heard on the grapevine will be published this week. This is not the right way to treat the House. Mr Deputy Speaker, will you ask the Housing Minister to come here and apologise and to allow us to question those proposals?

First, may I thank the right hon. Lady for giving me notice of her point of order? As the House knows, Mr Speaker attaches great importance to key policy announcements being made to the House before they are given to the media. There has been a written ministerial statement today, and the Department for Communities and Local Government will be answering questions on Thursday. This seems to be a classic example that should be drawn to the attention of the Procedure Committee as part of its inquiry into ministerial statements.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. At the last two Education Question Times, hon. Members raised concerns about the award of a contract to an organisation called the New Schools Network by the Department for Education, and about the lack of process that was followed. I wrote to the permanent secretary more than three weeks ago, asking him to investigate those concerns. I was promised a reply a week ago today, in advance of Education questions last week and of the Opposition day debate, but no such reply was forthcoming. Mr Deputy Speaker, through your good offices, may I ask that Members be given prompt answers when they are promised them, so that important questions can be raised and the Department in question can be held to account on these important matters?

That is not a point of order, but the message has been put before us and I am sure that the Chief Whip will have taken note of it. I am sure that this will be taken into account and that we can look forward to earlier replies in future.