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Point of Order

Volume 680: debated on Monday 21 September 2020

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In response to the lockdown earlier this year, the Government made significant changes to the operation of our railway network, which cost not millions but billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. After being in place for almost a quarter of a century, the Government announced in various media outlets today that rail franchises are to be ended and replaced by emergency recovery measures agreements.

In line with what seems to be common Government practice, at no point, despite being asked on numerous occasions, has the Transport Secretary, or any Government Minister for that matter, come to the House to make a statement on any of those issues. Instead, they have preferred to make announcements remotely through media outlets and press releases.

Mr Deputy Speaker, given that the Government keep talking about parliamentary sovereignty but seem set on disrespecting the House, what influence could you bring to bear to stop such abuse of the House and to stop the Government failing to make major policy announcements to the House? What influence can you bring to bear to ensure that the Transport Secretary comes to the House to announce such major transformational changes to our transport network?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for notice of his point of order. I note that there is a written statement from the Secretary of State for Transport on today’s Order Paper, which it appears may shed light on the Secretary of State’s policy. It is regrettable that such a major policy statement was made to the press before it was made available to the House. Mr Speaker has always been clear that such statements should be made to the House and that Members should have the opportunity to question Ministers on their policies. I thank the hon. Gentleman once again.

The sitting is suspended for three minutes for sanitisation purposes.

Sitting suspended.

Virtual participation in proceedings concluded (Order, 4 June.)