Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 741: debated on Wednesday 29 November 2023

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I would appreciate any advice you can give me on a matter of great interest and concern to my constituents. It relates to the attitude of National Highways officials in the north-west office. A freedom of information request revealed several emails that, in my view, show a worrying lack of candour and transparency in National Highways’ dealings with me in relation to the replacement of a footbridge on a major road in my constituency. In particular, I have been accused of “whipping up a frenzy” among my constituents in relation to that important safety matter—I am doing my job, not whipping up a frenzy. Any advice from you would be welcome.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I certainly agree that he, or any other Member, should not be criticised for pursuing issues of concern to their constituents. The hon. Gentleman has put his concerns on the record, and I believe the Minister may wish to make a quick point.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) was kind enough to notify me of his intention to make a point of order and I have already begun the process of looking into it. It is fair to say that he is a friend of mine, although I know that many will hold that against him. He is merely doing his job, and I will make sure that that continues.

I was about to say that the hon. Gentleman might want to consider raising the issue with Ministers, but that has already happened. I am grateful to the Minister, and I am sure that the issue will be considered between the two of them.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was very grateful to Mr Speaker for granting my urgent question, but do you have any advice on what can be done when a Minister simply refuses to answer a single question and essentially abuses the procedures of the House? I asked 12 questions in good faith. The Minister was on her feet for 49 seconds, during which time we learned that the Secretary of State is at COP, that there is a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and that the Minister’s granddaughter cares a lot about the planet. That is all very fascinating but it did not answer a single one of my questions. How can we do our jobs as Members holding the Government to account when Ministers can stand at the Dispatch Box for 49 seconds and not answer a single question on an issue deemed worthy of an urgent question?

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order, but I am not responsible for the answers given by Ministers. I believe the Minister would like to say something.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I believed that I had answered most of the questions the hon. Lady asked in my opening remarks. My understanding was that I was to give a short response. If there is anything I have not responded to, I am happy to respond in writing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) made the important point that there have been previous debates on this issue, and I suggest that if the hon. Lady had turned up to those debates, she would have been able to have a fuller—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

Order. I thank the Minister for that response. Both the hon. Lady and the Minister have put their views on the record. I am sure that there will be further opportunities after the summit for the issues to be discussed.

On the point made by the right hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) and just now by the Minister, they will know that there is one person representing my party and I cannot be in two places at once—I am working on it! There are 350 Conservative Members, and just one Back Bencher was at the debate last week. I suggest that they look at getting their own house in order before criticising this side.

This is getting way beyond anything resembling a point of order, so we should move on swiftly.

Bill Presented

Post Office (Horizon System) Compensation Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Kemi Badenoch, supported by the Prime Minister, Secretary Oliver Dowden, Secretary James Cleverly, Secretary Grant Shapps, Secretary Alex Chalk, Secretary Michelle Donelan, Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary Mel Stride and Secretary Alister Jack, presented a Bill to provide for the payment out of money provided by Parliament of expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State under, or in connection with, schemes or other arrangements to compensate persons affected by the Horizon system and in respect of other matters identified in legal proceedings relating to the Horizon system.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 16) with explanatory notes (Bill 16-EN).