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Point of Order

Volume 476: debated on Thursday 22 May 2008

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, at column 356, the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. McGovern), who is in the Chamber, intervened on his own Minister as a Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Madam Deputy Speaker pulled him up on that and said:

“it is not custom and practice for a Parliamentary Private Secretary to intervene on his Minister.”—[Official Report, 21 May 2008; Vol. 476, c. 366.]

In fact, it is more than that. Paragraph 3.9 of the ministerial code says that PPSs should not

“put Questions on matters affecting the department with which they are connected.”

I wish the hon. Gentleman no ill; I suspect it was a matter of ignorance rather than anything else. However, I wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether you could ensure that the ministerial code issued by the current Prime Minister, not the last one, is enforced and that the Government take it seriously—they say they do—and inform Ministers, including PPSs, of their responsibilities under it.

This is a convention, and the ministerial code is not a matter for me to interpret. I say to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) that the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. McGovern) was embarrassed, and I do not think that we wish to embarrass him further. He had absolutely no desire to break any convention of the House. After all, we all learn. We learn by listening—[Hon. Members: “They don’t.”] I assure the Leader of the House that the hon. Member for Blaby learns; I help him along from time to time.

I have mentioned apprenticeships. My foreman used to say, “The man who has never made a mistake has done nothing.” We make mistakes.