On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 7 March, I tabled a question which asked the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills whether he would publish any contingency plans that his Department has made on trade agreements in the event of the UK’s exit from the EU. I received this answer today:
“At the February European Council, the Government negotiated a new settlement, giving the United Kingdom a special status in a reformed European Union. The Government’s position, as set out by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the House on 22 February, is that the UK will be stronger, safer and better off remaining in a reformed EU.”
That is not an answer to my question. I believe that, at the time of the Iraq inquiry, Lord Justice Scott agreed that it was parliamentary protocol that questions must be given a substantive answer. Is it possible that, through your good offices, Mr Speaker, I can get an answer to that particular question?
As the hon. Lady knows, the Chair is not responsible for the content of answers. There is a general presumption in favour of answers to questions that are both timely and substantive. If, however, the hon. Lady is dissatisfied with the substance of the reply, which she believes fails adequately to respond—or to respond at all—to her inquiry, she has two recourses open to her, neither of which involves the Chair. One is to table further questions with that dogged persistence for which she has become renowned over the past nearly 11 years in the House, and the other is to complain to the Chair of the Procedure Committee, the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker), with a view to securing an inquiry into the approach by Ministers to providing answers to parliamentary questions. I hope that that constitutes an adequate answer to the hon. Lady, who has aired her concern today.
Energy Bill [Lords] (Programme) (No. 2)
That the Order of 18 January 2016 (Energy Bill [Lords] (Programme)) be varied as follows:
1. Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Order shall be omitted.
2. Proceedings on Consideration shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table.
3. The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the time specified in the second column of the Table.
Time for conclusion of proceedings
New Clauses relating to wind power; amendments to Part 5
Two hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order
New Clauses relating to carbon capture; emissions and decarbonisation; remaining new Clauses; remaining proceedings on Consideration
One hour before the moment of interruption
4. Proceedings in Legislative Grand Committee and proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption.—(Andrea Leadsom.)
Question agreed to.
As I informed the House on Monday 26 October, before a Report stage begins on a Bill, I will seek to identify in advance those changes made in Committee which I would expect to certify together with any Government amendments tabled for Report stage, which, if passed, would be likely to lead me to issue a certificate. My provisional certificate based on those changes and expected amendments is available in the Vote Office and on the Bills before Parliament website. At the end of the Report stage on a Bill, I am required to consider the Bill as amended on Report for certification. At that point, later today, I will issue my final certificate.