POINT OF ORDER – NEW FOREST NATIONAL PARK – 28 June 2004

Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware that two major announcements that affect the New Forest have been made in recent weeks – one a couple of weeks ago about the non-development of Dibden Bay as a huge container port, and one today about the creation of a national park for the New Forest. You have expressed concern on many occasions in the past that announcements should be made first to the House. I am delighted that, in the case of the Dibden Bay announcement, Transport Ministers were punctilious in that respect and no one had the faintest idea of what the announcement would be until it was made at 9.30 am in a Written Statement. But I am sorry that, today, Ministers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have once again fallen short in that respect, and I discover that, as late as last week, people in my Constituency were being told by the BBC what the result would be and were being invited to give interviews. Indeed, there was a live interview on the "Today" programme this morning. How many times must we raise in the House the failure of Ministers to make announcements to the House, rather than leaking them to the press without the hon. Members concerned and the whole House being informed in the proper way?