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Point of Order

Volume 566: debated on Monday 15 July 2013

Mr Speaker, I understand that either tomorrow or later this week the Secretary of State for Health will be giving a statement about 14 hospital trusts, including one in my constituency. However, given what appeared in two of the Sunday newspapers yesterday, there has been massive briefing, which could have come only from the Department. I think that a gross abuse of the House. Could a Health Minister be brought here today to explain why all that information was released to the press before it has come to the House?

My immediate response to the hon. Gentleman is twofold. First, there is no plan, intention or requirement for a Minister to come here today. The hon. Gentleman will have patiently to wait until tomorrow, at which point he might have an opportunity both to air his concerns about the substance of the matters under discussion and, if necessary, to repeat the point of a procedural character that he has made this afternoon.

Secondly, I am not familiar with the particular press reports to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred, although I did hear some sedentary hums of assent to the complaint that he was making. It would be only when I was familiar with the detailed facts of the situation that it would be fair for me to comment. Sometimes, reports that appear are of a speculative character and owe their genesis to determined reporters trying to get ahead of events and not necessarily to a deliberate briefing. On the other hand, we all know that deliberate briefing and outrageous leaking take place from time to time. The hon. Gentleman knows that I deprecate them in the strongest terms.

Meanwhile, the hon. Gentleman has given advertisement to the House of his intended presence for these matters to be considered tomorrow. He might catch my eye on that occasion.