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Points of Order

Volume 522: debated on Thursday 3 February 2011

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am gravely concerned about the manner in which the previous business has been dealt with. There appear to be a stream of such opt-ins in the pipeline, so I suggest that appropriate action be taken to ensure that at least the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee—myself—is given adequate notice and advance warning of any such statement, because the Committee has been effectively bounced, and that is not in the interests of the good order of this House, in the Standing Orders or in the spirit of the undertaking that the former Leader of the House of Lords gave.

That is not a point of order for the Chair. It seems to be an extension of the statement that we have just had, but Members on the Treasury Bench will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. “Erskine May”, at page 412, says:

“The Speaker has deprecated as ‘unparliamentary’ the practice of voting in both lobbies as a demonstration of a ‘third’ position.”

Last night, in Division 189 on the Government’s amendment to the Opposition’s motion, 17 Liberal Democrats abstained or did not vote and a further six voted both for and against—and four of them had voted for and against the main motion a few minutes earlier. Will you, Mr Deputy Speaker, repeat the ruling that it is unparliamentary for hon. Members, whether Liberal Democrats or from any other party, to behave in that way?

While such action is not out of order, Mr Speaker and his predecessors have deemed it unparliamentary. The hon. Gentleman’s point will have been heard on both sides of the House, and Mr Speaker will reflect upon the matter.