Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 2 July 2015

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Some time ago I tabled a question to the Attorney General to ask what steps the Crown Prosecution Service had taken to prosecute people more effectively for illegal littering. It might sound like a trivial matter, but it follows incidents of glass being found in feedstock on farms, so it raises animal welfare issues. The question was accepted by the Table Office and pulled out of the shuffle for today’s Question Time as Question 6, so I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the Department has decided to transfer my question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, despite the fact that it was willing to accept similarly worded questions on what steps the CPS was taking to ensure successful prosecution for the criminal offence of forced marriage, for example. Forced marriage is obviously much more serious than littering, but they are both serious issues.

I seek your guidance on whether it is in order for a question that has been accepted as being perfectly in order by the Table Office, and which appears to be worded in exactly the same way as other questions that have been accepted by the Department, then to be rejected at such short notice by a Department.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for notice of his intention to make a point of order. As I am sure he is aware, departmental matters are the responsibility of the Government, so it is not for the Chair to make decisions on them. The Leader of the House is in his place and will have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said, and the hon. Gentleman has put the matter on the record.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Yesterday we had an excellent debate on equal pay and gender inequality. You might recall that many women Members made the point that they were very uncomfortable with how they are addressed in the House. I do not think that can be ignored. Will you and the Speaker look into the matter and perhaps consider making the language more gender neutral in order to address those concerns?

I will certainly take the matter back to the Speaker. The hon. Gentleman might also like to take it to the Backbench Business Committee as a matter for debate and discussion with the rest of the House.