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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

I have a very short—or relatively short—statement to make.

The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) raised a point of order yesterday about the statement last Thursday on high-speed rail. The statement was made first in the Lords by the Secretary of State at 11.39 am and then repeated in this House by the Minister of State at 12.17 pm. The hon. Gentleman’s point of order was not about the timing but about the fact that the text of the statement was not available until after the Minister of State had spoken in this House. As Members will know, the practice to date has been that the text of a statement is not released by the Vote Office until the Minister has sat down. These arrangements are essentially for the Government, who supply the copies of the statements to the Vote Office on condition that they will not be released in advance. I believe that there was a misunderstanding about this last Thursday.

It is inevitable, with two departmental Cabinet Ministers in the other place, that some statements will be made there before they are made in the House of Commons. However, it does seem illogical that the text of a statement already delivered in the Lords, and available from the Printed Paper Office there, is not available from the Vote Office in this House. I am therefore asking the Leader of the House to ensure that in future the text of statements made in the Lords should be available from the Vote Office as soon as they are available in the Lords.

Further to your statement, Mr. Speaker. Of course it makes absolute sense that if a statement has been given in the House of Lords, the written copy should be available in the Vote Office for Members of this House even before the statement has been made here, so we strongly support the concern expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) and your statement. It will all be sorted.

I am extremely grateful to the Leader of the House. That is precisely the sort of co-operation that any Speaker wants to achieve.