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Points of Order

Volume 527: debated on Monday 9 May 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I ask whether you have had notification of a statement from the Government on delaying the decision on the BSkyB takeover bid in the light of the criminal trial just being launched involving computer hacking and contractors with News International?

I have received no indication of any such statement. That is an explicit response to the hon. Gentleman. However, I am grateful to him for his point of order.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Recently, the Procedure Committee published its eagerly sought report on hand-held electronic devices and tweeting in the Chamber. Will you update the House on whether that report has simply been accepted as a new procedure for the House or whether we will have a full debate on the matter and a vote?

The short answer to the hon. Gentleman is that the report would need to be debated by the House. That has not yet happened. However, I would certainly expect that before any decision were made and enforced, right hon. and hon. Members would have had the opportunity to debate the issues, which I know are of great and consuming interest to the hon. Gentleman and others.

I do not think there can be anything further to it. [Interruption.] Well, I will give the hon. Gentleman the opportunity to reflect on the matter for a moment and see whether his point is still valid.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was very reassuring, on entering the Palace of Westminster today, to see the flag of the United Kingdom flying from Victoria tower. Given that the European Union has apparently been issuing orders that the EU flag should be flown over public buildings and a photograph sent to Brussels to prove that it has been done, can you tell the House whether you received any such instruction and what your reaction would have been had you received it?

I did not, and I will not speculate on matters hypothetical. I have a hunch that that observation was aimed less at the House and more at the Lymington Times.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is there anything you can do to improve the provision of access to quality national newspapers across the parliamentary estate? I am particularly concerned at the lack of availability of copies of the Morning Star. [Interruption.] Obviously, Conservative Members are too. Could you confirm to the House whether you are fortunate enough to receive copies in your residence, and whether it is your view that all Members should have the right to a broad and balanced political perspective on the events of the day?

I am in favour of a broad and balanced diet of newspapers, because it is analogous to the benefits of a broad and balanced diet more widely. I am not in the habit of regularly reading the newspaper to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I am all in favour of people having access to it if they so wish, but if he is asking whether it is delivered to me, the answer is no.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would be grateful for your advice on whether parliamentary courtesies also apply to the Prime Minister, who, last Friday, together with some of his colleagues, visited Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, Edgbaston to get some decent advice on how to reform the NHS, but the local Member of Parliament was not notified.

The short answer to the hon. Lady’s point of order is that that parliamentary courtesy is expected of every Member of the House, so it most certainly does extend to Ministers.

Further to my point of order, Mr Speaker. While the Leader of the House is present, could you confirm whose decision it will be as to the timetabling of the vote on the Procedure Committee report? Will you, Mr Speaker, or the Leader of the House decide on that?

The answer is that these matters are ordinarily determined through the usual channels. If the hon. Gentleman remains interested in this matter, a suitable opportunity for him to pursue it would be at business questions this Thursday. I look forward with eager anticipation to seeing him in his place on that occasion.