HC Deb 17 June 2003 vol 407 cc211-2 12.32 pm
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. No doubt you will have had the chance to look at today's Hansard. The first page of a new volume of Hansard usually contains a full list of the Government. That was last done on 3 June, when volume 406 began. The first page contained details of Her Majesty's Government … formed by the Prime Minister in June 2001". When I went to the Vote Office today to ask for a paper copy of a Government list, I was told that former list was the only one available.

Today's Hansard, which is a new volume, begins: The Parliamentary Debates … in the first Session of the fifty-third Parliament of the United Kingdom … [which opened on 13 June 2001]. It continues with Question Time and does not provide a Government list. There appears to be some confusion about who is doing what job, and about Ministers' seniority in the jobs. The confusion is compounded by the Order Paper. According to the Vote Office, we have not been officially informed about the change of Secretary of State for Scotland, yet according to the Order Paper, Right Hon Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Scotland will give evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee on Scotland Office Departmental Report 2003". That is a remarkable conversion, given that the right hon. Gentleman has just answered questions on transport matters in the House.

Perhaps you can tell us what is going on, Mr. Speaker. Why cannot Hansard today give us the full Government list in the way that it normally would?

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I understand that, when Hansard went to press last night, a full list of the Government had not been received.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You very kindly indicated to the House yesterday that you had made representations to the Prime Minister and that you would accept representations from us on any future recommendations that you might make to him. The House would like to know which Minister is responsible for which function in any one Department, because until we know who is responsible for what, we do not know whom to write to.

Mr. Speaker

May I say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there will be a statement by the Prime Minister tomorrow? In my absence, the Chairman of Ways and Means will look after things, and it is possible that the right hon. and learned Gentleman might catch his eye, although I will not give any guarantees.

Mr. Keith Simpson (Mid-Norfolk)

Further to the points of order made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. McLoughlin) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), Mr. Speaker. We shall shortly have a debate on this matter, and I see that the Leader of the House, who is on the Front Bench, is available. Would it perhaps be convenient for the House if he read out a list of Ministers and their responsibilities? This seems to be the perfect opportunity, and he has 10 minutes in which to go and consult with No. 10 and get a full list.

Mr. Speaker


Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not a revolutionary idea that Members of Parliament should know what they are doing? May I ask you to consider very carefully the replies that you give to the House, because if we are to know not only who is responsible for what but which individual Members are supposed to be doing what, should we not get into a most extraordinary situation—quite different from the one that we have had for the last 400 years?

Mr. Speaker

One thing is sure: I know my responsibility, which is to look after the business of the House. I shall therefore move on to the ten-minute Bill.