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Points of Order

Volume 554: debated on Thursday 6 December 2012

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions we had the ludicrous spectacle of the farming Minister refusing to answer my question about the devastating impact on the cider industry of the Government’s proposal to have a minimum alcohol price because he has cider farms in his constituency. He was perfectly happy to answer numerous questions on dairy farming, beef farming and every other type of farming, which he also has in his constituency. Will you please seek clarification, Mr Deputy Speaker, from the permanent secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on this ludicrous ruling? Will Education Ministers not be allowed to answer questions because they have schools in their constituency? It is totally absurd.

It is not for the Chair to decide who will answer a question from the Front Bench; it is for the Government. I am sure that people will have noticed the right hon. Gentleman’s point of order, and it will be on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. This morning the Secretary of State for Transport made a statement to this House in which he claimed that civil servants, rather than Ministers, were responsible for the catastrophic failures in the west coast main line franchising process. After the Secretary of State sat down, we heard from the media that officials suspended during the investigation had been reinstated—a point he failed to mention. May I seek your advice, Mr Deputy Speaker? Is it your expectation that Ministers, when making a statement to this House, provide the full facts known to them?

It is not for the Chair to write statements. The hon. Lady has rightly put her point on the record. I am sure she will not leave it at that and take the avenues available to her to ensure that it is raised in other ways. It is certainly on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Those here earlier will have heard the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) try to make his point of order, expressing his apparent surprise that my hon. Friend the Minister was not going to answer questions about alcohol and minimum pricing. As the right hon. Member for Exeter is quoted in his local paper as knowing that in advance, may we ask why he was so surprised and why he had to raise it again as a separate point of order?