Point of Order

– in the House of Commons at 1:35 pm on 8th September 2015.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 1:35 pm, 8th September 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 20 July, you kindly granted an urgent question on the Government’s response to the Penrose inquiry and the contaminated blood scandal. The Under-Secretary of State for Health, Ben Gummer, who is responsible for care quality, responded on behalf of the Government and, referring to me, said:

“She…asked about the compensation fund, and I shall return to her with a written reply on that.”—[Hansard, 20 July 2015; Vol. 598, c. 1223.]

I have chased the private office on several occasions without success, and at column 1232 the Minister also promised to write to the hon. Members for Bedford (Richard Fuller) and for Rugby (Mark Pawsey). I do not know whether he has written to those hon. Members, but I would have expected as the Member who asked the urgent question to have been copied in to any letters the Minister wrote and I have seen no copies of any letters. I seek your advice, Mr Speaker, as there is a great deal of public interest in this matter, on how we can best get a response from the Minister when a letter is promised.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

I am rather perturbed by the hon. Lady’s point of order, because my mental arithmetic tells me that it is seven weeks yesterday since the matter was aired and the commitment was made to the hon. Lady. There is a premium on timely and substantive replies to Members’ questions and that premium is on account of the respect due to not just Members but their constituents. Ordinarily, there is some healthy competition between Departments to try to ensure timely and substantive replies but for some reason that instinct of competition seems to have deserted them on this occasion. No Whip is present, to my knowledge—[Interruption.] Oh good, Mr Elphicke is present. The Leader of the House is not present, but the Whip on duty will have heard what has been said and it would be most helpful and courteous if a substantive reply could now be forthcoming without delay.