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Points of Order

Volume 589: debated on Tuesday 2 December 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Since written answers began to be answered online, Hansard no longer publishes written questions and answers. I find this a deprivation because it has long been my practice to study the written questions and answers published in Hansard. I find it a deprivation for our constituents who no longer have the opportunity of seeing the written questions and answers. It means that Hansard is no longer a complete record of the proceedings of this House. I am therefore asking you, Mr Speaker, to give instructions that in future written questions and answers should be published in Hansard.

I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. My response is as follows. First, my distinct recollection is that the House has already decided on this matter. There is a reassuring nod of the head from the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) sitting on the Opposition Front Bench, which suggests that my recollection is correct. I am not sure, therefore, that that can easily be revisited, and certainly not impromptu by me from the Chair.

However, my second point to the right hon. Gentleman is that if he wishes to obtain a hard copy of the questions and answers, in accordance with his usual practice, he can obtain that from the Vote Office. That facility, although of course it could be extended to the right hon. Gentleman alone on grounds of his seniority and distinction, is in fact also an opportunity afforded to other right hon. and hon. Members.

I accept that these are matters of interpretation and opinion, but my last point would be that as far as the public are concerned I think the material is readily accessible and, arguably, as a result of this approach more accessible. Now, to judge by the rather sceptical expression on the right hon. Gentleman’s face, I fear I may have some way to go before persuading him of the merit of our approach. But what I am seeking to do—[Interruption.] Somebody chunters, slightly irreverently, from a sedentary position, “analogue”. In many respects, the right hon. Gentleman is modernity itself, not least in his original approach to sartorial elegance, but on these matters he does tend to be rather trad. I am trying, in a utilitarian spirit, on a Benthamite basis, to give the greatest satisfaction to the greatest number and I hope that we can do that. However, if the right hon. Gentleman is dissatisfied, I have a feeling that he will be beating a path to my door.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder whether you can give me some guidance. A young girl from my constituency has been tragically murdered in Cologne. There is no police investigation, although there is every evidence that her drink was spiked—she was poisoned. There has been no police investigation and no help for the family. There is not another Foreign Office Question Time for another month. Can you advise me on how I can raise this issue in the House?

The answer is twofold. First, the hon. Gentleman can write to a Foreign Office Minister, and he can be as confident of as speedy a reply these days, not least on the grounds of his seniority and persistence, as can his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman). Secondly, as the hon. Gentleman knows, he has effectively raised his point, through the ruse of the use and—some would say—the rather gentle abuse of the point of order procedure. Foreign Office Ministers will have heard his utterance, and let it never be said that he and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton are not heard in this House; I think we will all agree they are heard with appropriate regularity.