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Point of Order

Volume 575: debated on Wednesday 5 February 2014

Order. I will take the hon. Lady’s point of order, but her voice deserves to be fully heard, so I shall pause for a moment.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a genuine request for information. On Monday, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions appeared in front of our Select Committee. Our questioning was, in the main, about the slowness of the roll-out of universal credit and what seems to be gross misspending of public money. In response to my highly respected colleague, the Chair of our Select Committee, the Secretary of State replied, in the first instance:

“With respect, I do not have to tell the Committee everything that is happening in the Department”.

Later, he said:

“With respect, Chairman, I do not think this Committee can run the Department.”

Both replies—no surprises there, Mr Speaker—were, in my opinion, as ill-mannered as they were ill-informed, because it is my understanding that the duty laid on a Select Committee by the House of Commons is to scrutinise the working of the relevant Department. I would therefore be grateful for your advice on to whom I should go or whether there is a relevant committee to whose attention I should draw my concerns, to clarify the situation and, I hope, impose on the Secretary of State the reality of his responsibilities.

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady for that point of order. I accept that it is very much a request for information or clarification. I would make two points in response. First, her understanding of the function of a Select Committee is precisely correct—it is to scrutinise the work of the Department; not to run the Department but to hold to account those who do. That is certainly true. Secondly, however, I must say to the hon. Lady that the matter currently rests with the Committee, and it would not fall to me to say, still less to do, anything further beyond what I am saying to her now, unless the Committee were to report to the House a stated dissatisfaction. For now, however, she has lodged her point very clearly on the record, and I thank her for doing so.

Bill Presented

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Secretary Grayling, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Theresa May, Secretary Eric Pickles, the Attorney-General and Simon Hughes, presented a Bill to make provision about how offenders are dealt with before and after conviction; to amend the offence of possession of extreme pornographic images; to make provision about the proceedings and powers of courts and tribunals; to make provision about judicial review; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 169) with explanatory notes (Bill 169-EN).