Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 23rd February 2010.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Members Estimate Committee, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Members Estimate Committee, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission 3:37 pm, 23rd February 2010

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. Regular attenders at sittings of the House will know that he is persistent and feisty, probably beyond comparison in the House, in highlighting the phenomenon of unanswered questions or those to which tardy replies are given. He must continue to be persistent. I know that no Health Minister- [ Interruption. ] Order. I was going to say that no Health Minister is on the Government Front Bench, but Mike Penning is getting ahead of himself. The Minister of State, Department of Health, Gillian Merron is on the Treasury Bench, and she is always a keen listener; I know that she will hear the point that I am making.

Ministers must reply quickly to parliamentary questions, and the replies that are provided must be substantive rather than merely formulaic. They should not be replies along the lines of "I hope to reply as soon as possible." When Mr. Harper has waited for a period of several days or possibly weeks-this goes for all Members-the Member is entitled to a substantive reply. I hope that it will not be necessary continually to repeat this point. The hon. Gentleman and other Members will be aware that the tracking system means that this information is becoming available for public view, and I have a hunch that he will not wish this matter to remain secret and will probably want to give it the widest possible coverage.

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