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House of Commons Hansard
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12 July 2017
Volume 627

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Have you had any notice from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about an impending statement on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ “Building our Future” programme? Today, the Department made the outrageous decision to move over 1,000 jobs from my constituency to Edinburgh, despite the publication of a National Audit Office report just before the election that damned the programme. Questions are being asked about the inappropriate use of funds during purdah, and the public and my constituents cannot have confidence in this Parliament and its processes until they get answers. What can you do to assist me and my constituents?

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I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. In short, I have received no indication from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions of an intention to come to the House to make an oral statement. I think that something has been announced, either in the form of a written statement or some media communication, outwith what I would call oral discourse. That said, the hon. Lady, in her relatively short time in the House, has become an adroit deployer of the various mechanisms available to her to pursue the interests of her constituents. There are some days to go before the House rises for the summer recess, and if she judges that there is an urgency attached to this matter, I am sure that she will have recourse to the appropriate mechanism, and I will look out for it. What is more, I rather imagine that she will be in her seat, and leaping up and down from it, at business questions tomorrow.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Many people, myself included, will have been disappointed to read in today’s papers that the Prime Minister has postponed the publication of a report, which she ordered as part of her mission to tackle “burning injustices”, that audits and examines how people of different backgrounds are treated by public services. The reason for the delay is reportedly because it is “explosive” and “pretty bad”. Given the genuine and growing concern, is it in order for the Prime Minister to postpone a publication because she does not like the findings and because it will look bad for her Government? Is there a way that Parliament can have sight of the report that the Prime Minister is trying to hide?

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I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order. The short answer is that nothing disorderly has taken place. The timing of Government statements and the release of Government reports are matters for Ministers, not the Chair. However, if there is a completed report and if the hon. Lady and others are keen to know its contents and are not aware of any particularly compelling reason why it cannot be published sooner rather than later, it is open to the hon. Lady to seek to cajole or entice an appropriate Minister to come to the House in the remaining days before we rise for the summer recess. I cannot commit that that will happen, but I have this keen sense that the hon. Lady will return to the issue and probably seek some sort of adjudication from me in the days ahead.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. During Prime Minister’s questions, the First Secretary of State claimed that people with mental health conditions are more likely to be supported by the personal independence payment than the disability living allowance. The mental health charity Mind has made it absolutely clear that 55% of people with mental health conditions transferring from DLA to PIP have no award or a reduced award. I would be grateful if you could advise me on how we can have the record corrected.

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It is fair to say that the hon. Lady has found her own salvation, in that she has put her thought on the record in characteristically robust, but thankfully pithy, form, and that will now form part of the Official Report. I am well aware—I would be failing in my duty if I were not—that she has strong views on this matter, and that those views differ markedly from those of the First Secretary of State. I think it is fair to say that this is properly a matter for debate, but we shall leave it there, albeit only for today.

If there are no further points of order, we come to the general debate on the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry, and I am looking to the First Secretary of State to open the debate at his second outing at the Dispatch Box today.