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House of Commons Hansard
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17 October 2017
Volume 629

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In health oral questions on 16 October, the Health Secretary answered questions on the mental health workforce. It was clear that two of his answers were not correct. He stated twice that the mental health workforce had increased by 30,000 staff, but, as I understand it, the correct figure is about 690. There has been an attempt today to correct the record, but it is still not correct. Although the questions were about mental health staff, the corrections are about the total numbers of NHS clinical staff. May I ask through you, Mr Speaker, that the Health Secretary makes a further correction to give the House the correct figures for mental health staff?

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I have heard what the hon. Lady has said. It is up to any Member who errs to take responsibility for the correction of the record. It cannot be ultimately for the Chair to seek to arbitrate where there might be a dispute as to which is the correct statistic in a particular case. The hon. Lady, who is extremely experienced and dextrous in the use of parliamentary devices to achieve her objective, should keep a beady eye on the situation and if there is neither a correction forthcoming nor what she regards as an adequate or fully accurate correction, she can, through the Table Office, table further questions, which might elicit the same. On the whole, it is presumably desirable to reach a conclusion on these matters sooner rather than later. If that point is obvious to the hon. Lady, I trust that it will be similarly obvious to the Minister concerned.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I seek your advice on a matter relating to the A63 road in my constituency, known locally as Castle Street? It is a major route into the city and many of my constituents are worried about the lack of clarity on this issue. On 17 July, I wrote to the Transport Secretary to invite him to meet me. It has taken two-and-a-half months for his Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to write to inform me that the Department does not propose to meet me at this point. This is a massive discourtesy and a huge insult to my constituency and neighbouring constituencies, which have seen repeated delays to the Castle Street development. I seek your advice, Mr Speaker, about how I can encourage the Secretary of State to meet me on this incredibly important issue to my local economy.

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I think the hon. Lady has just done so through the device of the point of order. I am grateful to her for giving me notice that she wished to raise this matter and I do take it very seriously. It is an important matter for her and for her constituents and it is certainly unsatisfactory—a point that I have made frequently over the years—if Ministers do not respond promptly to Members’ inquiries. A Member should not have to wait two-and-a-half months for a ministerial reply. I am afraid that I cannot offer her a sure route for securing a meeting with the Secretary of State—[Interruption.] Perhaps I can be allowed to respond to the point of order without people chuntering from a sedentary position. I cannot offer the hon. Lady a sure route for securing a meeting with the Secretary of State or even with the Under-Secretary. It is for the Minister concerned to decide whether or when to meet with a Member about a constituency matter, and there may occasionally be factors that legitimately make a meeting untimely, but my emphasis is on the word occasionally. On the whole, I think it is reasonable for Members who ask for a meeting with a Minister on a constituency matter to expect that such a meeting will be facilitated. It might not necessarily be with the Secretary of State, but such a meeting should usually be facilitated. The hon. Lady has put her concern on the record. No doubt, it will have been heard on the Treasury Bench and will be relayed to the Department. If she does not achieve the meeting she seeks, she might wish to ask the advice of the Table Office on other avenues that are open to her to pursue, but I hope that it will not be necessary for her to explore those alternative avenues.