Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:37 am on 15th March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 11:37 am, 15th March 2007

May I welcome the announcement about the way in which Government statements will be dealt with in future? If the Leader of the House wishes to see evidence of Ministers failing to give answers, I refer him to the answer that the Secretary of State for Health gave to three specific questions that I tabled well in advance of Health questions this week. I did not get a reply to a single one of them; the responses were entirely evasive.

While the Leader of the House was away thinking last week, his then deputy, Nigel Griffiths, fielded my question about the medical training application service. He suggested that my idea that it should be suspended was "absolutely cuckoo"—he then flew the nest. If I am absolutely cuckoo, so is the entire British Medical Association, and so are junior doctors across the country. Will the Leader of the House look again at the issue? A review has been published, but there has been no suspension of the system that is causing so much damage to doctors' careers.

Last night, a press officer announced that it was the Government's intention to appeal against the administrative review High Court decision on pensions. That has not been formally reported to the House, but it will have profound consequences for pensioners who are still waiting for recompense. It also has consequences for the conduct of the Pensions Bill and for the way in which amendments are dealt with before Report. May we have statement from the Department for Work and Pensions on how it intends to proceed, so that it can allay the pensioners' fears that they are again being ignored by the Government?

May we have a statement on the formal rebuke to the Government issued yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on the discontinuation of the investigation into the al-Yamamah arms deal, and on the fact that the OECD is going to send investigators to question the Attorney-General about why the UK outlawed bribes of foreign officials in 1998, yet not a single prosecution has ensued?

Lastly, we anticipate that the Government's response to the Lyons report on local government spending will be encompassed within the Budget statement and debate. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is not expected to participate in that debate, but the matter is of huge interest to people up and down the country who are worried about council tax bills and seek a fairer replacement, so it would be proper to have a full statement and, in due course, a debate on local government finance.