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Point of Order

Volume 617: debated on Monday 14 November 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is customary in this place for Ministers to make announcements here, rather than in the press. Would you be able to comment on whether, if an announcement has been made in a different place—for example, in the media—you would expect Ministers to respond immediately, even if it was not an announcement made by a Minister? I have in mind the King’s Fund report, which today seems to suggest that my local hospital, St Helier, or at least some of its services, may be under threat of closure. Clearly, I think that is a matter of great import, which I would have thought Ministers would want to present themselves, at the earliest opportunity, to explain precisely what is going on.

As a former Deputy Leader of the House, the right hon. Gentleman is a very ingenious Member, well-versed in the mechanisms available to him to register his constituents’ concerns. He has just used one of them. If I were to engage with his point directly, I would say only that Ministers must judge when it is proper to come to the House to make a statement. In fairness, I do not think it is incumbent upon a Minister to do so immediately after the publication of a report that might comment on, or even have implications for, Government policy. There are probably dozens or even hundreds of such reports produced within the course of a month. They do not necessarily require an immediate oral response, but some might do so and the right hon. Gentleman will use his powers of discernment to conclude, at least for himself, which merit a response and which do not.