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Points of Order

Volume 557: debated on Monday 28 January 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will know that the Second Reading debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will take place next Tuesday. It obviously raises profound moral, emotional and legal issues, but I would argue that it also raises important constitutional issues affecting the Church of England and the status of marriage itself. Have you had any intimation from the Government that, in order to ensure proper scrutiny of the Bill, its Committee stage will be taken on the Floor of the House?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The short answer to his inquiry is no, I have received no such intimation. Of course, the Chair is always in favour of more debate rather than less, and of debate that is as accessible as possible, but it is only right to say to him and to the House that the decision on the type of Committee to which a Bill is committed is a matter for the House; it is not a matter of order for the Chair. Needless to say, the Chair will always do as the House instructs. I hope that that is clear, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 4 December, I participated in a Westminster Hall debate on Remploy, in which I asked the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the hon. Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey)whether she would visit the Remploy factory in Dundee. She very generously said that she would, and I expect to see her there next Monday, 4 February. In the debate, I also asked her whether she would speak to the Minister for Defence Procurement, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr Dunne), about awarding contracts to Remploy for manufacturing uniforms for the armed forces. I have yet to receive a response on that. You might be aware, Mr Speaker, that I tried to intervene in a debate on 15 December, and that I raised this matter as a point of order on 16 December. I have yet to receive a response from the Minister. Will you advise me how long I should wait for a response from a Minister?

I fear I can offer little assistance to the hon. Gentleman in this matter. There are two points to mention. First, he can pursue the route of tabling questions on the Order Paper to highlight his continuing concerns and the absence thus far of a response to them. Secondly, I note in passing that the Deputy Leader of the House is in his place, and that in my experience the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the House are always attentive to parliamentary courtesies. If the hon. Gentleman has been promised a response or some other commitment has been made to him, which has not yet been honoured, I say in all seriousness to him that that will be a source of some legitimate concern to the Deputy Leader of the House. Indeed, it is conceivable that the two of them might wish to have a chat outside the Chamber. I do not know; we shall see.

If there are no further points of order, we come on to our main business.