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Conduct in the Chamber

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

24. What recent representations she has received on the operation of the Standing Orders governing conduct in the Chamber. (321529)

We have not received any representations on either the current operation of Standing Orders or suggestions for amendments. The conduct of Members in the Chamber is a matter for your judgment, Mr. Speaker, not for Standing Orders.

May I draw the Deputy Leader’s attention to early-day motion 1054? In the natural hurly-burly of debate, it is understandable that a Minister may from time to time say something that subsequently turns out not to be correct—and the Minister then, quite properly, writes a letter to say, “I made a mistake in my remarks in the Chamber.” Is it not right, however, that if a mistake is made in the Chamber, that should be corrected in the Chamber, rather than being the subject of a private letter?

As I understand it, a Minister will correct information only if he was asserting that information. In the situation to which I think the hon. Gentleman is referring, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families was challenging some figures that an Opposition Member had given, and that is not a case for correction in the Chamber. When a debate is going backwards and forwards between Members, with comments being made and assertions being made and then challenged, that is not the same as when a Minister has given figures that are then proved to be wrong.