On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that you are always anxious that announcements should be made to the House of Commons first. I was very disturbed this morning to hear that the Department for Work and Pensions had made an announcement that voluntary redundancies affecting Remploy are to be made. There was press coverage in The Daily Telegraph and I believe that a statement is being issued by the Department. There is a factory in Wrexham that has among its staff a number of individuals, some of the most vulnerable members of our community, who will be desperately worried by such a statement being issued by the Department. Have you had any indication whatever that someone from the Department will be coming to the House so that we can ask questions about the detail of the proposals?
No. I have had no indication of an intention by a Minister to make a statement. If the hon. Gentleman is dissatisfied and he thinks that a procedural impropriety has taken place, first he may find other means through the Order Paper to pursue his concerns and to air his grievances; secondly, he might want to draw the matter to the attention of the Procedure Committee, which is looking into issues of this kind.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Today we were told through the media that there would be no movement on a rural fuel derogation, which would have taken 5p off a litre in certain areas. In my Hebridean constituency, people have paid up to £1.45 a litre, which includes the recent, quickly implemented, VAT rise.
Only 100 days ago, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury told a Lib Dem conference that
“I can announce to you today that with my approval, Treasury officials have started the process of engaging with the European Commission on our detailed plans”.
Can we have these announcements in Parliament, and get the relevant Treasury Minister to the Dispatch Box, so that we have a full and clear picture of what this Government are doing and a timetable set out, so that they do not shilly-shally for four years like the previous Labour Government?
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 20 December, I asked the Transport Secretary in this House about the Government’s response to winter weather in my constituency. The Transport Secretary undertook to write to me that afternoon with the Government’s reply. I have so far not received a response, and when I called the Transport Department today, the correspondence unit informed me that no letter had been sent. Can you help me understand whether I should expect a reply from the Minister?
It is possible that as a result of the point of order that the hon. Gentleman has just raised, the reply for which he is waiting may soon arrive. I can say beyond that only that the hon. Gentleman will have doggedly to pursue the matter if necessary, but of course it is right both that Members should get speedy answers to their questions and that promised letters to Members should be sent timeously.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I believe earnestly that this is a real point of order; it is a procedural matter. You may remember that in order to involve the House further in public appointments, there were introduced only a short time ago pre-appointment hearings for particular jobs. I understand today that the Secretary of State for Education has appointed a new children’s commissioner with no pre-appointment hearing at all.
Off the top of my head, it is not a matter of order for the Chair. What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is that the Select Committee that scrutinises the relevant Department might well be interested in the matter, and it is a Select Committee of which I think, as a previous Chair, the hon. Gentleman has very substantial experience. It may serve him well in the matter.
If there are no further points of order, we come now to the ten-minute rule motion for which the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) has been waiting patiently and without complaint.