On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you give me any advice in my capacity as Chair of the Defence Committee? Both my Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee have been extremely worried about the forthcoming major cuts to BBC Monitoring and the potential closure of Caversham Park, the centre where BBC Monitoring and Open Source Enterprise, an American organisation, exist side by side to the great advantage of many Government Departments. The Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry had to conclude without getting a responsible Minister to give evidence. My Committee has been trying in our inquiry since 14 October to get a responsible Minister, whom we gather should be from the Foreign Office or possibly the Cabinet Office, to come to us. This is a serious matter that is worrying a great many people in the military and intelligence communities. We look to your advice, Madam Deputy Speaker, as to what we can do to compel a Minister to do his job and come before us for scrutiny, which we must do in order to do our job.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for advance notice of his point of order. As he knows, the Chair is unable to compel Ministers to appear before Select Committees, but he has chosen the timing of his point of order well—the Leader of the House, who is very attentive, is here and will no doubt take those concerns to the Government.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At questions to the Leader of the House before business questions, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Steven Paterson) the Leader of the House—in all sobriety and apparently without any hint of irony—presented the behaviour of the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr Gyimah), last week in talking out a private Member’s Bill as nothing more than answering questions from Members in the normal course of a debate. Every Member present knows that the reality—
Order. This is a continuation of a debate rather than a point of order. The hon. Gentleman will have to use other avenues to pursue his grievance.
Technical and Further Education Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Secretary Justine Greening, supported by Secretary Greg Clark, Secretary Damian Green, Ben Gummer, Damian Hinds, Robert Halfon, Mr Nick Gibb, Edward Timpson, Caroline Dinenage and Joseph Johnson, presented a Bill to make provision about technical and further education, and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 82) with explanatory notes (Bill 82-EN).