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Points of Order

Volume 715: debated on Monday 23 May 2022

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Education Secretary has been caught red-handed using dodgy data to justify his academisation push. The independent statistics regulator has said that the evidence used in his schools White Paper “may be misleading”. Yet again today, he said that families of schools in high-performing trusts deliver “better outcomes for students”. Where is his evidence? I wonder if you have had notice that he plans to return to the House with real evidence for his claims; if he does not, perhaps he should be invited to correct the record.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, but it does not sound to me like a point of order for the Chair; it is more akin to a continuation of the debate at Question Time. The Secretary of State thinks one thing and the hon. Gentleman thinks another, which he is perfectly entitled to do. He is also perfectly entitled to present different evidence and different figures from those presented by the Secretary of State. It is not, of course, for me to adjudicate, I am very glad to say. The hon. Gentleman will know that there are various ways in which he can bring the matter back to the House. I am sure that the Table Office will advise him if he should need—[Interruption.] There appears to be someone heckling me, which is not a great idea. I can see that this is a matter of debate, which will undoubtedly continue. What I was trying to say is that the hon. Gentleman will find various ways in which he can bring the matter to the House again.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you help me get an answer out of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy? I first wrote on behalf of my constituent Mr Brian Price of Treorchy on 25 November 2020. He has had a terrible experience with the Government’s green deal scheme, which has left him out of pocket to the tune of more than £30,000. The Secretary of State replied to me on 14 December, stating he had instructed officials to look into the matter. We followed up on 15 December 2020, and we had a reply on 6 January 2021 seeking further information, which was provided to the Secretary of State.

I will not bore you—even though I see you are yawning, Madam Deputy Speaker—or the House with the ins and outs of this, but things have got considerably worse. I have been chasing a reply since 16 September last year, with letters on 1 November, 22 November and 17 December 2021, and on 21 January and 25 February 2022. On 21 March, I tabled a parliamentary question asking when I would get a reply. The Department replied —guess what?—that it had lost the correspondence. We sent it again on 30 March, and chased it again on 20 April. It is now 23 May, which is 544 days since I first wrote to the Department about this, and my poor constituent is pulling his hair out. Can you please, Madam Deputy Speaker, sort this out and get an answer for me?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I can assure him that my inadvertent yawn had nothing whatsoever to do with what he was saying; it must be a lack of oxygen around the Chair.

The situation the hon. Gentleman has described is totally unacceptable. It is simply appalling for a Government Department to lose correspondence about a case that the Minister has promised to look into. Mr Speaker has said many times from this Chair that it is essential that inquiries made by Members of Parliament on behalf of their constituents be answered by Ministers in a timely fashion. It is quite clear that this matter has not been dealt with in a timely fashion. Indeed, it would appear that it has not been dealt with at all.

The hon. Gentleman has made his point most emphatically. I am quite sure that those on the Treasury Bench will have heard what he has said, and I trust that the information will be passed on to the relevant Minister. If the hon. Gentleman still does not get any action from the Department, I hope that he will come back to Mr Speaker, and we will look into the matter further. However, I reiterate what Mr Speaker has said many times: it is unacceptable for civil servants not to answer the questions of Members of Parliament on behalf of the electorate.