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Point of Order

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Further to my point of order on 12 November 2008 to Speaker Martin, my subsequent point of order on 12 November this year to your good self, Sir, and my general comments and remarks over the eight and a half years that I have been a Member regarding the flying of the Union flag—the flag of our country—from the flagpoles on the parliamentary estate, will you now give a progress report and explain what is going to happen in the future on this matter?

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) for his point of order and, indeed, for giving me advance notice of it, and I am very happy to provide the progress report that he seeks. He should be aware and the House is now informed that the Chair of the Administration Committee wrote to me on 25 November to inform me that

“the Administration Committee considered a paper from the Parliamentary Director of Estates on flag flying on the Parliamentary Estate.”

Following a discussion of this important matter, the Committee agreed to recommend to me that

“flags should be flown on all three flagpoles on the Estate every day of the year, taking account of the usual ceremonial occasions.”

The Chair of the Administration Committee, the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Doran), helpfully pointed out to me in the letter:

“This would bring Parliament into line with other Whitehall departments. In the case of the Victoria Tower, agreement would be necessary with the House of Lords.”

I wrote back to the hon. Gentleman on 30 November, agreeing to his recommendations, including those relating to shape, dimensions and a change to “three by five”, which I know will be of close interest to the House.

I hope that the hon. Member for Romford feels a proper sense of triumph at what he has achieved in this matter, which he has, as he indicated, pursued over a lengthy period with, if I may say, a tenacity reminiscent of a Staffordshire bull terrier.

Royal assent

I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that Her Majesty has signified her Royal Assent to the following Act:

Consolidated Fund Act 2009.

Bills Presented

Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants Etc.) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Dr. Brian Iddon, supported by Rob Marris, Mr. Neil Gerrard, John Austin, Chris McCafferty, Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mr. David Curry, Peter Bottomley, Mr. Edward Leigh, Mr. Phil Willis, Bob Russell and Paul Holmes, presented a Bill to protect persons whose tenancies are not binding on mortgagees and to require mortgagees to give notice of the proposed execution of possession orders.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January, and to be printed (Bill 15).

Local Authorities (Overview and Scrutiny) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. David Chaytor, supported by Mr. David S. Borrow, Mr. David Crausby, Mr. David Drew, Dr. Brian Iddon, Mr. Paul Truswell, Mark Fisher, Mr. Michael Clapham, Helen Southworth, Mrs. Betty Williams, Fiona Mactaggart and Joan Walley, presented a Bill to make further provision about the functions, powers and constitution of local authority overview and scrutiny committees; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 February, and to be printed (Bill 16).

Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Andrew Gwynne, supported by Ms Sally Keeble, Anne Snelgrove, Mr. David Drew, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Mr. Andy Reed, Hilary Armstrong, Mr. Peter Lilley, Peter Bottomley, Anne Main, Andrew Stunell and Tom Brake, presented a Bill to make provision for or in connection with the relief of debts of certain developing countries.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February, and to be printed (Bill 17).

Grocery Market Ombudsman Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Albert Owen, supported by Andrew George, Nick Ainger, Mr. David Drew, Mark Durkan, Daniel Kawczynski, Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, Peter Bottomley, Mark Williams, Alun Michael, Mr. Lindsay Hoyle and Dr. Hywel Francis, presented a Bill to make provision for the appointment, functions and powers of a Grocery Market Ombudsman; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 March, and to be printed (Bill 18).

Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Julie Morgan, supported by Mrs. Siân C. James, Mr. Kevin Barron, Mrs. Betty Williams, Frank Dobson, Jessica Morden, Rosie Cooper, Dr. Evan Harris, Sandra Gidley, Mr. John Baron, Miss Julie Kirkbride and Dr. Richard Taylor, presented a Bill to make provision about the use or supply of tanning devices that use artificial ultra-violet radiation; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January, and to be printed (Bill 19).

Anti-slavery Day Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Anthony Steen, supported by Clare Short, Sir Michael Spicer, Michael Connarty, Sir Paul Beresford, Dr. Evan Harris, Keith Vaz, Mr. Peter Bone and Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mr. Peter Luff, Mr. Angus Robertson and Lady Sylvia Hermon, presented a Bill to introduce a national day to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 February, and to be printed (Bill 20).

Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Alistair Burt, supported by Mr. David Drew, Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mr. Martin Caton, Joan Walley, Dr. Brian Iddon, Tom Levitt, Julia Goldsworthy, Mr. Oliver Heald, Robert Neill and Mr. Nick Hurd, presented a Bill to amend the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 to make provision regarding town and parish councils, local decision-making and expenditure and the consideration of proposals; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February, and to be printed (Bill 21).

Warsaw Convention (Carrier Liability) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

John Smith, supported by John Barrett, Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, Mr. Martyn Jones, Jim Sheridan, Mr. Desmond Swayne, Sir Nicholas Winterton, Mr. Brian Jenkins and Dr. Richard Taylor, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to propose amendments to Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention for the purpose of extending carrier liability to cases of detriment to health or psychological well-being; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 March, and to be printed (Bill 22).

Safety and Conservation (Byelaws) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Crispin Blunt, on behalf of Chris Grayling, presented a Bill to empower the Secretary of State to delegate certain powers in respect of safety and conservation to conservators and other specified bodies; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 23 April, and to be printed (Bill 23).

Lisbon Treaty (Referendum) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Nigel Dodds, supported by Mr. Peter Robinson, Mr. William Cash, Mr. Ian Davidson, Mr. Mike Hancock, Lady Sylvia Hermon, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Dr. William McCrea, Bob Spink, Ann Winterton and Sir Nicholas Winterton, presented a Bill to require the holding of a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon and to require the repeal of the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 if the decision to ratify is not approved in the referendum; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February, and to be printed (Bill 24).

National Health Service Public Interest Disclosure Support Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Dr. Richard Taylor, supported by Mr. Kevin Barron, Mr. Graham Brady, Mr. William Cash, Mr. Dai Davies, Frank Dobson, Sandra Gidley, Patrick Hall, Dr. Doug Naysmith, Mr. Robert N. Wareing and Dr. Tony Wright, presented a Bill to make provision for the appointment, functions and powers of independent Support Officers for NHS employees who wish to make certain disclosures in the public interest; to place a duty on NHS trusts and others to co-operate with such Support Officers; to make consequential amendments to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 March, and to be printed (Bill 25).

Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Amendment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Simon Hughes, supported by Lorely Burt, Tim Farron, Lynne Featherstone, Nick Harvey, John Hemming, Paul Holmes, Mr. John Leech, Mr. Adrian Sanders, Andrew Stunell, Stephen Williams and Jenny Willott, presented a Bill to amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to enable local planning authorities to use sums received under section 106 of the Act for the building and improvement of housing; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January, and to be printed (Bill 26).

Care Homes and Sheltered Accommodation (Domestic Pets) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Nigel Waterson, supported by Miss Ann Widdecombe, Andrew Rosindell, Mr. Roger Gale, Paul Flynn, Mr. James Gray, Mr. Denis MacShane, Dr. Nick Palmer and Ann Clwyd, presented a Bill to make provision for residents of care homes and sheltered accommodation to keep domestic pets in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 March, and to be printed (Bill 27).

European Union Membership (Referendum) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Douglas Carswell, supported by Philip Davies, Mr. Philip Hollobone, Mr. Peter Bone, Mr Austin Mitchell, Mr. Mike Hancock, Dr. Evan Harris, Mr. Richard Shepherd, Kelvin Hopkins and Ann Winterton, presented a Bill to require the holding of a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February, and to be printed (Bill 28).

Development on Flood Plains (Environment Agency Powers) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Bob Spink presented a Bill to empower the Environment Agency to prevent development on flood plains to which the Agency objects; to require planning authorities to comply with Environment Agency advice when considering development on flood plains; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 29 January, and to be printed (Bill 29).

Local Government (Infrastructure Requirement Plans) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Mark Hoban, supported by Mr. Mark Francois, Mr. Mark Prisk, Mr. Paul Goodman, Mr. David Gauke, Mr. Brooks Newmark, Mrs Maria Miller, John Howell and Mr. Charles Walker, presented a Bill to require local authorities to assess the infrastructure needed to support future housing and commercial development and to prepare plans for its provision; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 March, and to be printed (Bill 30).

Marine Accident Investigation Branch (Reports) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

David Cairns presented a Bill to make provision to oblige shipping companies, port operators and other bodies to comply with recommendations made in reports of the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents and of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 March, and to be printed (Bill 31).

School Transport Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. David Heath presented a Bill to make provision for a dedicated school bus network; to amend the duties of Local Education Authorities to provide school transport; to improve the safety of users of school transport; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 32).

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We have just heard a lot of hon. Members presenting private Members’ Bills and, with the exception of the last Member, giving dates for Second Reading when the House has not yet been given any dates when Second Readings are to be available. How can that be in order? How can Members know that they will actually be able to debate their business on that day?

That is a matter for the Government, as I think the hon. Gentleman knows. I think it would be accurate to say that he is engaged in a continuing altercation with the Government on this important matter. Once again, he has taken the opportunity to register firmly on the record his disapproval of the Government’s handling of the matter.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is not the fact that the consideration of private Members’ Bills is a matter for the Government rather than the House an illustration of why we need an early debate on the proposals from the Wright Committee?

The hon. Gentleman is taking the opportunity to instigate a debate. As he knows, I have myself indicated on previous occasions a desire that the matters to which he has referred should come before the House before very long. After the festive season, I have no reason to suppose that he will be disappointed.

If there are no further points of order—I know the House is in a very “point of order” mood—we now come to the main business.