Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 492: debated on Tuesday 12 May 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is stated on page 370 of the 22nd edition of “Erskine May” that

“parliamentary government requires the majority to abide by a decision regularly come to, however unexpected”,

and page 368 says:

“Technically…the rescinding of a vote is a new question, the form being to read the resolution of the House and to move that it be rescinded”.

On 3 July 2008, amendment (f), which I proposed, was agreed unanimously and without dissent by the House. It removed the ability of Members of the House to designate separate homes as main homes for capital gains tax purposes as opposed to main homes for expenses. It would appear that the House of Commons Commission has not applied that resolution, but, under the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978, the Commission does not have the power in any way to overturn a decision of the House. I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on when this resolution will be applied, or whether in fact it is being applied but that has not been stated.

I thank the hon. Member for giving me notice of his point of order. I understand his concern. This matter has been considered by the Members Estimate Committee and will, no doubt, again be considered by the Committee. I will ensure that he gets a proper response.

May I also say to the hon. Gentleman that I am not saying that we did not fully understand the amendment, but if he can come to the Clerk of the House and give us an explanation of his interpretation of it, that will help the Members Estimate Committee. I hope that that is all right with the hon. Gentleman, and that he is prepared to do that.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In Health questions just now, I referred to Stafford hospital. In the light of what the Leader of the House said in reply to a question that I put on 30 April, I and other Members thought we could expect an oral statement—not merely a written statement—from the Secretary of State regarding the Stafford hospital situation, given the reports. In fact, I think it is true to say that the Secretary of State has certainly, during the course of the last 10 days, indicated to me that he thought he would be doing so. On Thursday last week, however, I received a letter from the Leader of the House and, without going into the detail, it says:

“Thursday’s statement”—

that is the written statement—

“represents the Government’s response”.

In other words, we are not getting an oral statement. I have to say that in the light of questions relating to whistleblowing and my own and others’ determination to have a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005, which would protect whistleblowers, we need to have a proper statement from the Secretary of State on these reports. Mr. Speaker, will you please protect the House and ensure that the Secretary of State comes to the House and gives an oral statement?

The hon. Gentleman will know that I am not in a position to bring the Secretary of State before the House, except when an urgent question is granted. What I would say, however, is that the hon. Gentleman’s deep concern has been heard. It has been heard by the Health Ministers on the Treasury Bench. There is also nothing to stop the hon. Gentleman applying for an Adjournment debate, which would mean that a Health Minister—I am not sure whether it would be the Secretary of State—would certainly come before the House.

In response to the point of order, may I say that we had a debate on whistleblowing in Westminster Hall last week? It was initiated by the hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Dr. Taylor) and the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) did not bother to turn up.

Order. I think that I have given the hon. Gentleman two pieces of advice, and perhaps he will consider the steer that I am giving him. I cannot do better than that.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. At column 548 in yesterday’s Hansard, you explained all the reasons why the Metropolitan police have been called in over the alleged stealing of a disc, which was probably sold to The Daily Telegraph. I have absolutely no disagreement with all the reasons that you gave, but, on reflection, I wonder whether it would be right for you to apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey). When she raised a point of order, you referred to her “public utterances” and “pearls of wisdom”. [Interruption.] May I put it to you, sir, that a Member of Parliament should be able to raise a point of order without there being such personal comments, which some of us at least—not all of us, apparently—consider inappropriate. Should not the Speaker always refrain from personal comments?

Well, perhaps the hon. Gentleman could have raised a point of order then. That was the business of yesterday, and we have moved on from there.

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann), Mr. Speaker. Whatever the outcome of the discussions he has with the House of Commons Commission, is it your belief that any such change on the question of the nomination of homes could not be retrospective and therefore would not apply to any of the information currently in the public domain?

That is a matter for the Members Estimate Committee, and I cannot go into it on the Floor of the House.