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Points of Order

Volume 529: debated on Wednesday 15 June 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I received a letter this morning before I asked the Prime Minister a question about a company called ENRC. The letter was from the solicitors Mishcon de Reya and it referred to comments that I made during an Adjournment debate on 23 May. Essentially, it accuses me of a misuse of parliamentary privilege and I ask for your advice on what, if anything, I should do next. It seems to me that if I call someone “a shady middle man”—as I did Dan Gertler, their client—because that is what I believe to be true and a justifiable comment, it is a use of parliamentary privilege rather than a misuse. The letter appears to be an attempt to constrain a Member of Parliament from expressing his views clearly and fairly in this House.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for notice of his intention to put it to me. My response is twofold. First, if he wishes to make a complaint about the attempted denial of his parliamentary privilege by the firm of lawyers to which he refers, he needs to write to me and I will consider that complaint in accordance with the normal procedure. Secondly, I recall clearly that I was in the Chair for that Adjournment debate on 23 May. If he had been out of order, I would have said so. I did not, because he was not.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier, I asked the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, whether he could tell me the date on which parliamentary counsel were instructed to draft amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill following the NHS Future Forum consultation. In response, the Minister of State referred me to the Health Secretary. In fact, the Minister of State is responsible for parliamentary counsel and should respond to that question. What guidance can you give on how to obtain that information as the Minister responsible did not respond to the question?

I am grateful for that point of order, of which I was unsighted. I make no complaint about that, but I simply say that I am giving an off-the-cuff response to the hon. Gentleman. Which Minister responds to a particular question put by the hon. Gentleman is a matter for the Government. I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman is disappointed by the response—or what he regards as the absence of a response—but he is an experienced and indefatigable Member who I am sure will find other ways, possibly through the Table Office, to pursue his concerns.

If there are no further points of order, we come now to the ten-minute rule Bill, for which the hon. Member for Devizes (Claire Perry) has been patiently waiting.