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Points of Order

Volume 627: debated on Thursday 20 July 2017

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On Monday night we had the farce of the Secretary of State for Transport being dragged to the Chamber to face questions about HS2. Today, the last day of the Session, a written statement has been sneaked out which is of massive economic detriment to the country. It lays waste to any semblance of industrial strategy; it totally conflicts with what was said about electrification at the Dispatch Box on Monday night; and it smashes to bits the Government’s promises to the people of the north and the midlands and especially to the people of south Wales. For the Secretary of State to drop this bombshell on the British people without affording Members the opportunity to hold him to account by way of an oral statement before we break for the summer is completely disrespectful to this House. I seek your advice, Madam Deputy Speaker, as to how the Secretary of State can be held to account for his gross omission and explain this disastrous U-turn.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Once again the Secretary of State has made a major announcement outside the Chamber on an issue that affects my constituents in Sheffield. The electrification of the midland mainline has been on and off for a number of years; it was on and then paused, then it was on and now apparently it is off again. A written statement has been sneaked out, but no statement has been made in the House. The Secretary of State’s predecessor always came to this House to make such statements. Can you require the Secretary of State to come to this House to explain what is going on with this electrification, which once again has been put on hold?

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can we have a statement on the impact of this decision on the proposed electrification of the south Wales valley lines? The statement that has been sneaked out today is appalling.

Hon. Members know that the matter of when a Minister comes to the House is not for me, Mr Speaker or any other occupant of the Chair. The matters that were just raised in three points of order were raised many times during today’s business questions and answered by the Leader of the House, who is once again in her place. I am sure that she will have conveyed the feelings of the House to the Secretary of State. The hon. Gentlemen know very well the methods by which Members can try to insist on a Secretary of State coming to the House, and I am sure that they will pursue the matter in that way. I can do nothing further from the Chair, but I am certain that the Secretary of State for Transport knows the opinion of hon. Members.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Government are required by the High Court to publish an air quality strategy next week because they are in breach of European Union air quality standards, which has led to 40,000 premature deaths and costs £20 billion a year. Yesterday some 60 MPs wrote to me in support of a clean air Bill asking the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to incorporate those provisions in such a strategy. When will we have a chance to debate those matters, and why has a statement not been made today on the issue, given that the House will not have an opportunity to debate it before the deadline imposed by the Court? We knew this would happen and it has such deadly consequences for British people.

Again, the hon. Gentleman knows that I cannot require someone to come to the House on the back of a point of order. Of course, if the hon. Gentleman wished to ask a question about the timetabling of business matters, he should have asked the Leader of the House when she was at the Dispatch Box earlier.

I know that and have every sympathy for the hon. Gentleman. He has drawn his concerns to the attention of the Leader of the House, who is in her place. It is not a matter for me.