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Points of Order

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 17 December 2015

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. A number of colleagues are here for the two debates later today. I understand that there may be a number of speakers in the first debate and that it is a time-limited debate. Every colleague who wishes to speak would get in if there was some rough guidance from the Chair that 10 minutes for Back Benchers and Front Benchers would allow everyone to make their points in the debate.

The hon. Gentleman makes a reasonable point. I will consider how much time is available and how many Members indicate that they wish to speak. When the House is operating at its best, there should be no need for me to set a formal time limit because all hon. Members ought to be courteous to all other hon. Members and limit their remarks to a reasonable amount of time, which is usually less than 10 minutes, as the hon. Gentleman suggests.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On 21 July I asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK troops were embedded with the armed forces of the US and other countries and whether that was paid for from the Department for International Development budget. In September I was told that the Department was compiling an answer. I chased that answer in November but have still not received it, five months after asking my original question. Surely Members of this House deserve timely answers to questions. More importantly, we need to understand the role that our troops are playing on the ground around the world and which arm of Government is paying for that involvement.

As the hon. Lady knows, how Departments and Ministers organise their answers to parliamentary questions is not a matter for the Chair, but I will happily repeat what Mr Speaker and his predecessors have said for many years: Ministers must answer questions from Members of Parliament in a timely and reasonable fashion. I understand that the Procedure Committee is looking into the matter, because this is not the first time—I am sure that it will not be the last—that a Member has had no alternative but to ask the Chair to intervene in such a case. At the same time, I am sure that those on the Treasury Bench will have heard what the hon. Lady has said, and what I have said, and I expect that she will receive a proper answer to her question as soon as possible.

Bill Presented

Marriage Registration Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mrs Caroline Spelman, supported Caroline Lucas, Victoria Prentis, Julian Knight, Frank Field, Christina Rees and Huw Irranca Davies presented a Bill to make provision about the registration of marriages.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 22 January 2016, and to be printed (Bill 113).