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Points of Order

Volume 521: debated on Tuesday 11 January 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker—of which I hope you have had some notice. On 21 December, through a press statement, the Prime Minister announced a major change to the machinery of Government. I hope that the Business Secretary will remain in the Chamber, because that was the day on which all responsibility for competition and policy issues relating to media broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors was transferred out of his remit and into the remit of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. There has been no announcement whatsoever to the House of Commons relating to that major change to the machinery of Government, and we are not clear which particular aspects of Government policy have in fact been transferred. Today, the website of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills talks of issues within this area that are the responsibility of a Minister in that Department still being the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. Have you, Mr Speaker, had any indication whatsoever that this House, rather than the press, will be informed of the detail of this major change to the machinery of Government?

I note what the hon. Gentleman says, but I have not heard of any Government intention to make a statement on this matter today. However, I remind him and the House that Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be answering oral questions in the Chamber on Thursday, when opportunities might present themselves. I hope that that is helpful.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I hear what you have said, but this afternoon I tried to table some questions to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Table Office is uncertain about what specific responsibilities fall within which Department, so there is a very real problem for the order of this House.

It is for Ministers to decide into which bailiwick matters fall, and therefore which Minister or Department is responsible. I note the very real concern that the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) has just expressed. Off the top of my head, I would say two things to him. First, he will be aware that at Business, Innovation and Skills questions on Thursday there will be topical questions, and it is open to Members to try to highlight their concerns at that juncture. Also on Thursday there will be business questions, and it will certainly not be beyond the wit and sagacity of the hon. Member for Rhondda, if he chooses to be here, to pursue these matters. If he is elsewhere, in a certain part of the north-west, then other Members might take up the slack; we shall see.

If there are no further points of order, we come now to the ten-minute rule motion, for which the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon) has been patiently waiting.