Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 548: debated on Monday 16 July 2012

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. At Defence questions, the Secretary of State announced that he was going to lay a written ministerial statement tomorrow on the future of Defence Equipment and Support—the equipment arm of the Ministry of Defence. He said that a decision had been taken to run the organisation by a Government-owned, contractor-operated model. This decision has been the subject of debate, delay, review and speculation over the last two years. In the light of how important this matter is—not only to those working in the defence sector but to many Members—is it right for it to be announced through a written ministerial statement rather than an oral statement and on the last day before the House rises for the summer recess, as it denies us the opportunity to scrutinise this very important decision?

The hon. Member has put his point on the record, and I am sure that the Secretary of State for Defence will be made aware of his comments.

On 4 July, the Under-Secretary of State for Education, the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), who has responsibility for children and young families, told me in a written answer that he was not aware of any individuals recruited to civil service positions in his Department who had previously been employed or elected in political positions. I am aware of at least three such appointments to senior positions— Janet Grauberg, Alexandra Gowlland and Elena Narozanski—and there may be more. I am certain that the Minister would not knowingly have misled the House, so I can only assume that he had not confirmed the accuracy of the answer he was given, despite the fact it took over a month to provide it. Mr Deputy Speaker, will you advise whether it is still the case that Ministers are responsible to Parliament for the accuracy of the information they give to it? What steps can be taken to ensure that the Minister comes to Parliament to correct the record?

As the hon. Lady knows, the occupant of the Chair is not responsible for the answers that Ministers provide. She has nevertheless put her point on the record, and I am sure it will be taken up.