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Points of Order

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Today the Government have published their draft carbon plan, which we all welcome. There is a commitment in the plan to reviewing feed-in tariffs for microgeneration in 2012-13, as originally set out by the previous Government. However, in just the past few weeks the Government have announced that a fast-track review of those solar feed-in tariffs is to take place by this July. Thousands of jobs in this country are dependent on the certainty and clarity of knowing what will happen with the feed-in tariff review and when it will happen. Today’s document is co-signed not only by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, but by the deputy leader of the coalition and the Prime Minister himself. Have you had a request, Mr Speaker, for any Government spokesman or the Prime Minister to come and clarify whether the review will take place now or in 2012-13, so that we can end the uncertainty that is jeopardising thousands upon thousands of jobs?

The short answer to the question is that sadly I have not. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his intention to raise this matter; however, it does not constitute a point of order on which I can rule. There will be—and I think he knows there will be—other opportunities to pursue the matter in other ways, and I have a suspicion that he will use them.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday, I asked the Foreign Secretary to investigate the circumstances in which my constituent, Jennifer Currie, and her children had left Libya, and the fact that my caseworker had had to make many of the arrangements for them to do so. The Foreign Secretary stated that the Government did not accept my description of the lack of support received from the Foreign Office. The family has confirmed to me today that the Foreign Office initially declined to help Jennifer and her children, and then told the family to book and pay for their flights. Mr Speaker, what advice can you give to my constituent and me to enable us to ensure that the Foreign Secretary justifies his claim about what happened in Libya, given the different versions of events and the real danger that she and her children faced?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his intention to raise this matter. Naturally, I recall the exchange that took place in the Chamber between him and the Minister yesterday. What he has said today will have been heard, or will be heard, by those on the Treasury Bench and by the Ministers directly responsible for this matter, but it is not a matter upon which I can rule. There is an argument here, and the hon. Gentleman has put his view of the events, and his verdict on the sequence of events, very clearly on the record. He can approach the Table Office and pursue the matter through questioning, if he wishes, or he can write to the Minister further to pursue the matter on behalf of his constituents, if he chooses.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to apologise for misleading the House yesterday, make a correction and clarify a position. During our debate on the Scotland Bill yesterday, I outlined the importance of having overnight counting, as many of us were exceedingly excited as we watched the result of the Barnsley by-election come in on Friday morning and found that the Liberals had not retained second place. We learned that they had not come third or fourth, and that they had in fact come sixth. My error was to say that the only reason the Liberals had come sixth was that the Scottish nationalists had not stood, and that, had they done so, the Liberals would have come seventh. In fact, my error was in not correctly pointing out that, had the Welsh nationalists or indeed the Democratic Unionist party stood, the Liberals might very well have come ninth. I was going to make the same point about the Social Democratic and Labour party, but that would be taking it too far.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, to whom I always listen with interest and respect. However, I have to say that that effort, though a nice try, was some hundreds of miles away from being a point of order. I think that we will leave it there.