Chris Raises Point Of Order About Timely Responses
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you help us? What is the purpose of having named day questions if one Department—the Department of Health and Social Care—consistently does not comply with the requirement to reply to those questions in a timely fashion, to which the Leader of the House referred earlier? The most recent records show that only one third of the named day questions to that Department are answered on time. I have 12 outstanding named day questions to that Department that have not yet been answered, some of which date back more than five weeks, and we are now on the last day before the recess. What can be done to enforce the rules, particularly against the Department of Health and Social Care? Many of the questions are highly pertinent to people who want information about whether or not it is safe to take the covid-19 vaccine.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that point of order. He raises an important issue that the Procedure Committee has looked at, and he might like to draw it to that Committee’s attention. He is quite right to say that the Leader of the House has indicated that Departments should answer questions in a timely fashion. We have just had business questions; it may be that the hon. Gentleman would like to raise the issue at a future session of business questions when the Leader of the House is present.
Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We have raised the issue before—in fact, Mr Speaker granted an urgent question on it and the Minister for Health had to come and answer it—but despite all the pleas from you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and Mr Speaker in the Chair, the Department does not seem to be responding. I am a member of the Procedure Committee and the statistics to which I referred are the latest statistics reported to that Committee. The question I ask is: what can be done to enforce the rules?
All I can say is that we have to persist, which the hon. Gentleman is clearly doing. He is not alone in his concern about this matter, as he has rightly said. I will ensure that Mr Speaker is aware of this comments. As I said, he might, as a member of the Procedure Committee, like to take the issue back to that Committee as well.
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