On a point of order, Mr Speaker. During Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions today, the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Dan Rogerson)—I have spoken with his office about this—said, “We are investing more in flood defences than the last Government.” Four months ago, following a similar claim by the Secretary of State, the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority wrote to me to confirm that Government spending on flood protection has been cut by about £250 million during the time the coalition Government have been in power. He added that
“given the salience of these figures and the public interest in them, it is my view that it would better serve the public good if Defra were to consider publishing official statistics on expenditure… on… flooding… in future.”
Can you advise me on how this House could give the UK Statistics Authority, rather than Ministers, the power to determine which figures are so important that they should be published as official statistics that are independent, quality assured and accurate?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for notice of his intention to raise something of this kind. My best advice to him is that he should contact the Public Administration Committee, within whose auspices such matters would definitely fall. I appreciate that this has been a long-running matter so far as he is concerned, and if he wants to broker a step change or some sort of improvement in what he regards as an unsatisfactory state of affairs, going through that Select Committee might be a useful way to proceed. He can, of course, go to the Table Office and use the Order Paper in the usual way, and I dare say he will do so, but that is my most constructive advice to the hon. Gentleman and I hope it is helpful.
Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism 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 David Jones, the Attorney-General, Oliver Letwin, Grant Shapps and Mr Nick Hurd presented a Bill to make provision as to matters to which a court must have regard in determining a claim in negligence or breach of statutory duty.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Monday 16 June, and to be printed (Bill 9) with explanatory notes (Bill 9-EN).