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Points of Order

Volume 523: debated on Tuesday 8 February 2011

This morning, the Government issued a written statement on the ditching of the privatisation of search and rescue contracts. That written statement provided no answers about the multi-million pound cost to the taxpayer of pursuing that madcap privatisation scheme in the first place. No details were provided about what that will mean for military aircrew who should be remaining on search and rescue flights. No confirmation was given on what should happen to military facilities that operate those search and rescue flights, such as RAF Lossiemouth in Moray or HMS Gannet in Ayrshire. How would it be possible to get a full statement in the House, so that hon. Members who have a constituency or other interest can question Ministers on what is, after all, a lifeline public service?

My concern is similar to that of the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson). That statement should have been made in this place and not on the airwaves, which is what happened. Despite having a constituency interest in the subject, I was given no notice of the statement in the House of Commons Library. Nobody informed me that it had been put there, and I had to seek it out myself, which I find outrageous. It is time that the Government got themselves into check in order that this place remains sovereign—rather than the airwaves of this country.

I am grateful to the hon. Members for Moray (Angus Robertson) and for Central Ayrshire (Mr Donohoe) for their points of order. The timing, form and content of ministerial statements are, as both hon. Members will appreciate, a matter for the Government and not for the Chair. I note what both of them have said about what they regard as the inadequacy of the handling of the matter. Their opinion has been placed firmly on the record.

I say two things in conclusion to them. First, the Leader of the House is present. He will have heard what they have said—he is entitled to respond, but he is under no obligation to do so this afternoon. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman is well able to fend for himself. Secondly, both hon. Members are at liberty and might be wise to approach the Table Office to decide what options are available to them to pursue this very legitimate concern on behalf of their constituents.

If there are no further points of order, we come to the ten-minute rule motion. The hon. Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) has been waiting patiently. Just before he graces the House with his eloquence, I appeal to hon. Members who are leaving the Chamber—I am sure that there will not be very many—to do so quickly and quietly so that we may hear him.