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Points of Order

Volume 678: debated on Monday 20 July 2020

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Last Friday, after a term like no other, primary schools in St Helens and across England finished for the summer. In recent years, my son, like over 2 million other reception and year 1 pupils, received a piece of fruit or a vegetable every day as part of a welcome public health initiative introduced in 2004, the school fruit and vegetable scheme. However, the Government suspended the scheme in March because of the covid-19 lockdown.

I submitted a written parliamentary question to the Department of Health and Social Care on 29 June about the status of this scheme. I received a reply on 6 July, saying I would receive a further answer shortly. I have heard nothing since. Given the imminent parliamentary recess, can you, Mr Deputy Speaker, advise me how I might get Ministers to provide some clarity for 16,000 schools, local authorities, growers, suppliers, and parents and pupils that this important initiative will be restored when schools return in September?

I thank the hon. Member for his point of order and for giving the Chair notice of it. Those on the Treasury Bench will have heard the point that he has just made. Indeed, the Speaker has stressed how important it is that all Departments answer questions that have been given to them as quickly as is possible. I hope they take this opportunity to do so, particularly over the next couple of days, but clearly, if he does not get a response, he still has, as does every other Member here, the opportunity to write to the Departments and the Secretaries of State, even during recess.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Ofgem, the energy regulator, has this week confirmed that it will not introduce a short-haul tariff for gas transportation in October, when the pricing regime comes into play. That will have a huge impact on energy intensive industries on Teesside and across the country that are based near gas terminals. The extra costs could even threaten the very existence of some of those companies.

I know that Ministers have been in touch with Ofgem, but can you tell me, Mr Deputy Speaker, whether you have had any indication at all that a Minister from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is planning to come to the House to make a statement on the impact of this decision and how Government might be able to help?

I thank the hon. Member for his courtesy in giving me notice of the point of order he has just made. He has made an important point, but I have had no indication that a Minister intends to make a statement. Should that alter, it will be communicated to him and the House in the usual way.