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Points of Order

Volume 737: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am seeking your guidance and assistance on how I might ensure that I receive answers from the Secretary of State for Education to questions from me and a number of Members across this House about the growing crisis of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete in our schools—questions which, in some cases, have remained unanswered for more than 10 days after the due date has passed. May I also ask whether you have received notice that an Education Minister proposes to update the House about the situation across our schools estate before the House rises tomorrow? In particular, have you received notice of whether Ministers intend to publish a new and accurate list of the affected school premises?

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order, and for notice of it. Obviously, I am not responsible for the timing of answers to parliamentary questions, but I know Mr Speaker is very keen to remind Ministers of the importance of answering questions in a timely manner. The Procedure Committee also takes a close interest in this issue, and the hon. Lady might like to raise it with the Chair of that Committee, the right hon. Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley).

To the hon. Lady’s second point, I have had no notice from Ministers that they intend to make a further statement on the matter this week. However, the hon. Lady is lucky that not only are a number of Treasury Ministers present, but the Leader of the House is present and will, I am sure, have heard her point of order. As Mr Speaker said last week, he knows that Members would like an update before the conference recess. I am sure that that will all be conveyed.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was not able to raise this issue at Home Office questions this afternoon, due to the limited time available for Back Benchers. It relates to the role of the Home Affairs Select Committee. As part of our scrutiny function, the Committee has asked to accompany the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration on one of his inspections. The Home Office has refused that request, and I wanted to raise the matter with Ministers on the Floor of the House today. We have been told numerous times that the Home Office welcomes scrutiny of its work, and we do not understand why our request would be refused. Is there anything that you can do to assist the Committee in carrying out its scrutiny?

I thank the right hon. Lady for her point of order and also for giving me notice of it. I think all Members of this House agree that it is incredibly important that Select Committees of the House have the access they need to facilitate effective scrutiny, and I am also very aware that this is not the first time that the right hon. Lady has raised this sort of issue. It is not a point of order for the Chair, but she has made an important point, and I know that her comments will have been noted by Treasury Ministers and will be fed back. Perhaps we might get a resolution that would be fitting, enabling the right hon. Lady’s Committee to carry out its scrutiny.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At 12 noon tomorrow, we will see the publication of the long-awaited Brook House inquiry, and I wondered whether the Home Office had been in touch with your office to ask whether some time might be made tomorrow for a statement in the House on this issue. It will be some weeks before the House returns from conference recess, and given how long people have been waiting for the outcome of that inquiry, it would be useful to know whether something is coming to the House tomorrow on that.

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order. I did not have prior notice of it, so I have not been able to make any investigations. I am not aware at this point that a statement is intended; however, the hon. Lady is a very experienced Member of the House, and I am sure she will be seeking ways to clarify whether a statement is intended and, if not, whether there are alternative ways in which the issue may be raised.

Business of the House (Today)


That, at this day’s sitting, the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the motion in the name of Penny Mordaunt relating to Private Members’ Bills not later than one hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order; such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; the business may be proceeded with, though opposed, after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.—(Steve Double.)