Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 556: debated on Monday 7 January 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware that the Cabinet Office has today tabled a written ministerial statement entitled “Coalition Government mid-term review”. I have with me the relevant document, “Together in the national interest”; there is nothing like starting the new term with a bit of comedy, and the TV over the Christmas period has been pretty poor in comedy terms. Could you give me some advice, Mr Speaker, because there has been a press conference in Downing street today, where the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have been answering questions on this document and the Government’s future programme, but nobody in this House has had the opportunity to ask any question of the Executive about this document? This is supposedly a further relaunch of the Government, so why is no Minister here to answer questions on the failure of this coalition Government to implement their policies in their first two and a half years? Why is there not a Minister here answering on this document?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his attempted point of order, which may find some resonance with the Telford Bugle or some other similar purveyor of information to the public. [Interruption.] I am grateful to hon. Members for drawing my attention to the Shropshire Star, which is an extremely illustrious newspaper. He will have an opportunity to raise this during questions to the Deputy Prime Minister tomorrow and questions to the Prime Minister on Wednesday. It is a review document, but if there are substantive policy announcements to make flowing from it, individual responsible Ministers will doubtless make them to the House ere long.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Could you advise the House as to how the leaking of that document in television studios by Ministers, or even perhaps the Prime Minister, is in order with the announcing of new policy to this House first?

I think my response to the hon. Gentleman is substantively the same as my response to the hon. Member for Telford (David Wright). It is a review document—I do not wish to disappoint the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), but I have not yet read it and I have no immediate plans to do so—but if there are substantive new policy announcements flowing from it, of course Ministers must make them to the House. We will leave it there for the time being. The hon. Gentleman has that cheeky grin on his face which suggests to me that he knows that he was slightly pushing his luck.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Only about once every two or three centuries does this House consider the supremely important matter of the succession of the Head of State. The Government propose to rush the Bill through both Houses in a single day, so it will not be possible to have a proper debate on the new clauses and amendments. The anxiety about this matter is not confined to commoners.

I note what the hon. Gentleman tells me, but I know that he will appreciate that the programme motion for such matters is not a matter for me. He may be very genuinely concerned about the length of time available for debate on these issues and his concerns will have been heard, but, to put it bluntly, there is nothing I can do about it now and I am not sure that there is anything I can do about it at any stage. However, he has vented his displeasure and I hope that that at least gives him some satisfaction.

Order. We are always grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his helpful observations from a sedentary position, but we will come now to the main business.