On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Government rushed out some 21 ministerial statements today, right on recess day, which is appalling in itself, but not one was on fixed-odds betting terminals. The Sustainable Communities Act 2007 application, which sits in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and which was made by Newham council, 95 other councils and the Local Government Association—it is the biggest application under the Act—to lower fixed odds betting terminals’ stakes from £100 to £2 was lodged in December 2015. More than six months have now passed and we are at the summer recess. I understand that the deadline for this was 14 July and only one meeting has taken place, and that was the preliminary meeting between the Department and the LGA. The Minister has failed to update the House on the meetings with the LGA and to indicate what that first meeting was about, which is implicit under the conditions of the Act. The Act requires that the Government must try to reach agreement by constructive negotiation between the LGA and the Government, who must act in good faith with the provision that all DCMS support evidence is provided, including researchers’ advice. What advice will you give me, Mr Speaker, on this matter, which shows an appalling dereliction of responsibility?
My first advice to people who raise points of order is that the point of order should be brief. Secondly, I say to the hon. Gentleman that it is not a matter for the Chair, but that he has registered his dissatisfaction very forcefully through his point of order. Fortunately for him, he has done so, as he knows, in the presence of the Leader of the House and of the Deputy Leader of the House together with a number of representatives of the Patronage Secretary as well. My further observation is that if the hon. Gentleman is able to contribute to the second Adjournment debate this afternoon—it is up to him whether he seeks to do so—he might elicit a response from the Government to the points that he has raised. Admittedly, he will not have a responsible departmental Minister to answer today, but he might, as there is collective responsibility in Government, be able to attract some sort of response. I can tell that he is extremely dissatisfied, but we cannot let the best be the enemy of the good. In a pragmatic sense, I think that that is the best that he can hope for today.
Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Tim Loughton, supported by Mr Graham Brady, Frank Field, Mark Durkan, Greg Mulholland and Caroline Lucas, presented a Bill to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to provide that opposite sex couples may enter a civil partnership; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 13 January 2017, and to be printed (Bill 58).