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Ministerial Statements

Volume 532: debated on Thursday 8 September 2011

8. What assessment he has made of the process for using ministerial statements to make major Government announcements. (70625)

10. What assessment he has made of the process for using ministerial statements to make major Government announcements. (70627)

So far this Session, there have been 139 oral ministerial statements and more than 1,500 written ministerial statements made to the House. My assessment is that this Government have a much better record than the previous Government.

The right hon. Gentleman has something of a reputation as a parliamentary reformer. Is he not concerned that that reputation is now under threat given his churlish and I have to say uncharacteristic response to the Procedure Committee regarding ministerial statements?

I presume that the hon. Lady is referring to the response from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, but I can remember not a single occasion on which he has even hinted at churlishness, let alone expressed it in response to a Select Committee. Of course we look carefully at what is proposed by Select Committees, and there will be times when we do not entirely agree with them for very good reasons, but that does not mean that we do not respect what they say, while being prepared to argue our case in due course when relevant matters are debated in the Chamber.

Why is the hon. Gentleman so against using Westminster Hall to ease the burden on this Chamber and allow us fully to scrutinise the misguided legislation that his Government are pushing through the House?

I am not sure that I entirely understand the hon. Gentleman. He is a new Member of the House and I hope he will not consider it patronising when I say that he may not know why Westminster Hall sittings were first proposed, which was to allow for non-legislative and non-contentious business to be taken in a parallel Chamber while the House was sitting. It was not meant to create impossible dilemmas for Members in having to attend two important venues at the same time. Having said that, if we can make better use of Westminster Hall we are certainly open to doing so. If we can find other ways of reducing the pressures on this Chamber then it is better that we do so. The biggest difficulty that we have is the huge appetite that the House understandably has for hearing Ministers make statements and its proper appetite for scrutinising legislation fully and properly.