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Points of Order

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 30 June 2011

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. My constituency has in the past year enjoyed a number of visits from other Members of the House—that is understandable because Lincoln is a beautiful city with many beautiful people. Visitors have included: the right hon. Members for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) and for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham); my right hon. Friends the Members for North Somerset (Dr Fox), for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) and for Witney (Mr Cameron); and my hon. Friends the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker), for Faversham and Mid Kent (Hugh Robertson) and for Aldershot (Mr Howarth). Although I was notified of some ministerial visits—on one occasion this occurred at 10.30 pm on a Sunday evening for a visit that was to take place less than 12 hours later, which was timely perhaps but not within the lexicon of due diligence—I, like many colleagues, do not always receive such a courtesy from Members from all parts of this House.

I recognise that, in response to a point of order raised in 2008 by the then right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham, the previous Speaker drew a distinction between “ministerial business” and “party activities” in relation to constituency visits—Opposition Members are quick to quote that to me. I am also aware that yesterday my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) referred to this matter in a similar point of order, although I note that he was lukewarm in his welcome for 50 Members from our coalition partners visiting Shipley. However, I feel that such a courtesy to any Member of this House should be extended to include all visits from every Member of the House, regardless of nature, unless undertaken in a strictly private capacity. On a number of occasions I have attended constituency events, business visits—

Order. I have got the message. Members are supposed to keep points of order short and we are in danger of having an Adjournment debate on this. My ruling from the Chair is that, as the House is well aware, it is convention that right hon. and hon. Members allow Members in those constituencies being visited due notification before the visit takes place. That has always been the case and I hope that convention will be the norm.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. At Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, in response to my question on the planned changes to vetting and barring in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, the Prime Minister claimed that

“anyone who has criminal convictions”—[Official Report, 29 June 2011; Vol. 530, c. 953.]

will be barred from working with children. However, I have checked clause 66 of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which clearly removes the current procedure of automatically barring someone who has, for example, raped a child. Given the concern in the country about that loophole, may I seek your guidance on how to correct the record?

The hon. Lady has already put that information on the record and I am sure that she will find other ways to ensure that the necessary correction takes place.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Today, we have had a statement from the Home Office and a business statement. It is clear from the few answers that the Home Office Minister was able to give that the Government were not ready to come to the House and would not have done so had we not asked an urgent question this morning. Is there provision for the Home Office Minister to come back to the House at the end of the day, once he has clarification from the lawyers on the position for the police as regards the situation under which they must operate, and is there provision for the Leader of the House to come back and make another business statement now that we know that emergency legislation will definitely be needed and will need to be timetabled as a result?

It is up to the Government whether they wish to come back, but that would have to be with the permission of Mr Speaker. I am sure that the right hon. Lady’s message has been heard.