Point of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:39 pm on 24th March 2021.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care) 2:39 pm, 24th March 2021

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. On Monday, I received a written answer from the Minister for Health, Edward Argar, to a question about operation waiting times beyond 52 weeks. The response stated that

“This information is not held in the format requested.”

Yesterday, however, the respected publication the Health Service Journal indicated that it had already received this information from NHS England. I have since received a copy of this from the Health Service Journal, and indeed, it is identical to the information I requested. I believe the hon. Member for Charnwood, who I shadow, is a diligent and courteous Minister, but this situation does require significant explanation. I had given him due notice today, and I had hoped he would be able to give us an explanation.

I should also point out that the Department has responded to me on 31 other occasions during the past year stating that it does not hold the information requested, sometimes in response to questions for which I genuinely struggle to understand why it does not have that information, one example being how many patients have been treated in Nightingale hospitals. Certainly, if I were in the Minister’s shoes, I would want to know the answer to those questions. I am therefore seeking guidance from you today, Mr Deputy Speaker, about what avenues are available when I receive answers of this nature where the Department does have, or should have, the information requested.