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Point of Order

Volume 573: debated on Wednesday 15 January 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would very much welcome your guidance. I wrote to the Home Secretary on 9 October last year—14 weeks ago today—about an issue raised by my constituent, Kerry Bouskill, on child protection and the Childhood Lost campaign. She was concerned about young people reporting abuse often not being believed and how that can be a deterrent. The question on behalf of my constituent was simple enough: will the Home Secretary outline the steps taken by the Government to strengthen child protection? On 18 November my office contacted the Home Secretary’s office, but nobody called back. On 19 November I was told that I would have an answer within a week. On 2 December I was advised that changes were needed to the letter before sign-off. On 11 December I was advised that the letter was awaiting a signature. On 20 December the matter had been passed to the office of the Minister for Crime Prevention and I was told that I would receive a letter over the Christmas recess. On 8 and 9 January my office contacted his office, but again we received no call back. On 10 January I was again advised that the letter was awaiting a signature, but I have still received nothing. I would appreciate your advice.

In all courtesy to the hon. Gentleman, no one in the House or outside it could accuse him of excluding from his point of order any matter that he considered in any way to be material to the thrust of his complaint. As a consequence, I feel sure that all right hon. and hon. Members will now be fully familiar with the chronology of events that so dissatisfies him. Suffice it to say that he has certainly waited an inordinately long time for a response to his inquiries. His point of order will have been heard very clearly by those on the Treasury Bench; the Leader of the House is sitting there. I hope that hearing it will cause the Government to react in a timely way so that the hon. Gentleman’s questions are answered. I should also say to him that the Procedure Committee monitors the performance of Departments in answering parliamentary questions, and he may wish to draw the facts of this case to the attention of the Clerk of that Committee and possibly its illustrious Chairman, the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker).