New Forest East


[Hilary Benn: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We have just had a statement which, although very important, did not have to be made today – a day on which we have two crucial Opposition day debates. Given that the Opposition day was moved from yesterday to today in order to avoid yesterday's autumn forecast cutting into the time available, is it not a bit galling to discover that a statement has been put in for today? I hope that that has nothing to do with trying to distract attention from the problems that the Government face on school sport and on breaking pledges on tuition fees. We understand that there are occasions when there are urgent questions and urgent statements, but what can be done to protect the time for Opposition days?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. He will understand that the timing of statements is a matter for the Government. He will also know that the Procedure Committee is considering ministerial statements, and he may well want to make some points to that Committee. Of course, he can always raise the matter again at business questions on Thursday.]

Dr Julian Lewis: Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I express my total sympathy with the shadow spokesman's point, given that I remember how immensely frustrating it was for us when we were on the Opposition side of the House and the Labour Government did that time and again?

[Madam Deputy Speaker: Thank you very much – score draw.]