POINT OF ORDER – BURYING BAD NEWS – 25 July 2007

Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House will be aware that the MOD's annual report, which was published on 23 July, revealed important weaknesses in the preparedness of our Armed Forces, and the strain that they are now experiencing on operations. May I have your guidance on the importance of the MOD giving accurate information to the Vote Office on when such reports are to be published? The Vote Office was informed – and informed the Shadow Defence Team – that this important report would be released at 2 o'clock, but, in the event, it was finally released at 4 o'clock. A similar thing happened the previous year, when a similarly important and revealing report was snuck out at the end of a day and the House did not have an adequate opportunity to consider it.

[Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman's frustration if information is not available as promptly as he, as a Front-Bench spokesman, would wish. Obviously, he must not draw me into this argument, however. He has put his point on the record, and I hope that attention will be given to it. Mr. Speaker has spoken on more than one occasion of the importance that he attaches to information being provided to Members of the House in a timely manner.]