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Point of Order

Volume 651: debated on Thursday 20 December 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am grateful to you for accepting it. I believe that it is my duty as a Back Bencher to hold the British Government to account, but that is only possible if the Government act with transparency. PricewaterhouseCoopers has written a report on HS2 that confirms that the line will cost taxpayers at least 25% more than similar schemes in other countries. The Department for Transport has refused to publish the report for two years, but, following a series of written parliamentary questions, I managed to secure confirmation that it would be published before the House rises for Christmas. We are still waiting for that report, Mr Speaker. Can you advise me and other Members how we can go about holding to account a Department that is intent on shirking scrutiny?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, and for his characteristic courtesy in giving me notice of his intention to raise it.

I will start by making the obvious point that the House has not yet risen for Christmas, and the Government therefore have a few hours in which to deliver on their stated intention to publish the report before the recess. Meanwhile, the hon. Gentleman has made his concern very clear. It is on the record and will be visible to all in the Official Report, and it has been heard by those sitting on the Treasury Bench.

Beyond that, I would say to the hon. Gentleman—who is a perspicacious and indefatigable Member of the House—that he has the opportunity presented by the business question. I hope that he will not be beetling out of the Chamber too quickly, because he will have the chance to raise the matter with the Leader of the House if he so wishes. The incentive exists, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman is suitably enticed.