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Points of Order

Volume 543: debated on Monday 23 April 2012

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Last week I tabled a question to the Minister for Women and Equalities asking what representations she had made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about an equality impact assessment for the Budget. That question appeared fleetingly at No. 2 on the Order Paper for Thursday’s oral questions and then disappeared. Although I had asked her what she had said to him, she obviously thought it more in keeping with the ethos of her Department that she let him answer on her behalf. May we have some guidance on which questions are likely to be transferred so that we do not waste our opportunity at oral questions by asking things that the Minister does not feel capable of responding to?

As the hon. Lady will know, the transfer of questions is dealt with by the Departments and is not a matter for the Chair. I would suggest, however, that she has a conversation with the Table Office to ensure that, next time she tables a question, it is to be answered by the Department she intended.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At the beginning of last month, new evidence came forward calling into question the conclusion of the Macpherson inquiry about whether police corruption interfered with the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I tabled questions on that basis to the Home Office, and on 19 March I received a holding answer saying that it would answer as soon as possible. I subsequently retabled those questions asking when they would be answered and today received another holding answer saying that the Department would answer as soon as possible. This morning, in The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, there is front-page speculation about the Home Office’s position on an inquiry into these matters. I have not received any decent response to questions I have tabled in the House. Is it not an affront to the House that speculation clearly fostered by the Home Office should appear in the media after a Member has raised the issue in the House? Furthermore, Madam Deputy Speaker, have you had any indication from Home Office Ministers that they are likely to come here and explain this completely unsatisfactory situation?

The hon. Gentleman has closely followed these important issues for some time because of their relevance to his constituency. He asked two specific questions. The first question was about adequate answers from Departments to Members. If he is dissatisfied, it is open to him to pursue it through the Procedure Committee; it is not a matter for the Chair. His second question was about notification of a statement from the Home Office on this important issue. I have received no notification and have no knowledge of such a statement, but the Deputy Leader of the House is in his place and knows that this is an important issue, and I am sure that he is prepared to assist the hon. Gentleman in any way he can to ensure that this matter is dealt with properly and urgently.

I understand that owing to an error in the notice given on the Order Paper, Mr Graham Jones will not be presenting his Bill today.