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Points of Order

Volume 743: debated on Tuesday 9 January 2024

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Financial Times is reporting that Teesworks Ltd—the so-called public-private partnership to redevelop the former steelworks site on Teesside—has reported an exceptional year, tripling its profits to £54 million. Sadly, the public will see very little of that hard cash, as under the Tees Tory Mayor, 90% of shares in the company were handed over to two local businessmen. That means they get £48.6 million, and the public get just £5.4 million. Personally, I think that is scandalous.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald) and I raised questions about the way that business is done at Teesworks, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities ordered an inquiry, which was expected to have reported by now. Will you please advise me, Mr Speaker, on whether you have heard of any plans by the Secretary of State to come to the House to make a statement about why that report has been delayed and when we can expect it?

I have had no indication from the Government that the Secretary of State intends to make a statement on this matter, but I am sure that those on the Treasury Bench will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s remarks, and I am sure he will pursue it in other ways. No doubt, if nothing is forthcoming, it might need an urgent question—that is a possible suggestion.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. For the convenience of the House, it may assist right hon. and hon. Members if I give some advance notice of Thursday’s business statement.

The business for the week commencing 15 January will include:

Monday 15 January—Committee of the whole House and remaining stages of the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill.

Tuesday 16 January—Committee of the whole House on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill (day 1).

Wednesday 17 January—Committee of the whole House on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill (day 2).

I will announce the business statement on Thursday in the usual way.

While that was not a point of order for the Chair, I am sure the House will have heard the announcement by the Leader of the House with great interest. I call the shadow Leader of the House.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Is this not just another example of this Government making it up as they go along, with no real plan, scrabbling around and trying to make something of this failed, unworkable plan? We have had at least three business statements or questions since the Bill first began to be timetabled. Would you not expect, Mr Speaker, such an announcement to be made in a business statement in the usual way?

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. It may be helpful if I explain to the House that if I had waited to announce this for the first time on Thursday, there would have been very limited time for people to table amendments ahead of the normal tabling deadline. We are making this announcement to facilitate right hon. and hon. Members in tabling amendments, if they wish to do so. We do not wish to bring forward legislation that will not be successful. This is a matter of great importance to the general public, and we wish it to be successful. I hope the House will understand why we have given it a heads-up of the business for next week.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Normally business statements allow Back Benchers as well as Front Benchers to ask questions of the Leader of the House. This is a difficult precedent because it does not give the Back Benchers a voice. Saying that it is just a matter of convenience for amendments is not good enough when the Government are in charge of the business and could have done this in a more organised way to give everybody a say. I think this is a deplorable development.

In general, I would expect the House business to be announced via a statement or in response to the business question. It would of course be in order to ask questions about the timetabling of this business during Thursday’s business statement, but you have made the point and at least you have got it on the record. Let us move on.