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House of Commons Hansard
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22 May 2018
Volume 641

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday a written ministerial statement entitled “Road Haulage Update” was published by the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Hereford and South Herefordshire (Jesse Norman), setting out plans for a solution to the problems of Operation Stack, and explaining how the Government intend to avoid queues 20 miles long should customs checks be introduced post-Brexit.

This is an issue of strategic national importance, which, if mishandled, will devastate not only Kent but the national economy. The Secretary of State did not make an oral statement yesterday, and has failed to give the House an opportunity to scrutinise the announcement. Can you advise me, Mr Speaker, on how the Secretary of State might be encouraged to come and make a formal statement to the House?

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I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his characteristic courtesy in giving me notice of his intention to raise this matter. The short answer to him, and for the benefit of the House, is that the decision on whether to make a written or an oral ministerial statement is a matter for the Minister; it cannot be decided by the Chair.

I recognise the importance of the issue to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, and it is evidence to me—and doubtless to others—that he is, to put it mildly, perturbed, or even irritated, by the absence of an oral statement. He asked what recourse he has in the circumstances. The answer is that the hon. Gentleman is a most dexterous individual in respect of the use of the Order Paper and the facilities of the Table Office, and he is not unaware of mechanisms by which he can secure further answers. If he thinks that the matter remains of urgent importance, he can seek to secure the presence of the Minister to respond to him.

I think we will leave it there for now, but meanwhile, the hon. Gentleman has ventilated his dissatisfaction.