Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 2:04 pm on 17th October 2002.

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Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst 2:04 pm, 17th October 2002

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Earlier today, during an exchange on the so-called modernisation proposals, the Leader of the House made a slight error in describing the policy of the official Opposition on sitting hours. May I take this opportunity to put the record straight? We propose that the House sit at 9.30 am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, suspending sittings for lunch at 1 pm or earlier and commencing the main business at 2 pm. The House would then continue to sit until 7 pm. The distinction is rather important, and I did not want to leave the inadvertent mischaracterisation by the Leader of the House uncorrected.

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

I am sure that the House is obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I understand that these matters will be further discussed on 29 October.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you help us with the delays that we are still experiencing in the receipt of written parliamentary answers to questions? Yesterday I received an answer from the Ministry of Defence to a question that I originally asked to have answered on 25 February. I received a holding reply on 25 February and a substantive reply last night. I am being generous to the Ministry in describing it as a substantive reply because it did not really answer the question. Is it not unacceptable that it should take almost eight months for any Ministry, however hard-pressed, to respond to a question from an hon. Member?

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

On many previous occasions Mr. Speaker has said that he expects hon. Members to get prompt attention from Ministers. I am sure that by allowing that point of order to be expressed it gives further emphasis to the matter. Obviously, it is important that Members should be able to get their queries dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. If the hon. Member continues to experience extraordinary delays, he may wish to take up the matter with the Public Administration Committee.

Photo of Andrew Turner Andrew Turner Conservative, Isle of Wight

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could those responsible perhaps make some effort to ensure that information which is said to be placed in the Library of the House is in fact in the Library of the House? I have received many telephone calls since the answering of a question on 19 September from the press asking for information which subsequent inquiry has discovered has not yet been sent to the Library.

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means

Again, it is an irritant to hon. Members if that occurs. I can only hope that by expressing this view from the Chair, Departments will take special care to ensure that what their Ministers say is being done is backed up by the action.