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Point of Order

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 19 July 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you for taking this point of order, which, for reasons that will readily become apparent, is time critical. Last night, a Member on the Government Benches objected to my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson) being put on to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. This was done in the knowledge that it would prevent her from being able to attend today’s very important Committee meeting, at which Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch are giving evidence. There is, however, a motion on the Order Paper, tabled by the Committee of Selection, that will allow the House to vote to put this right, but it will not be debated until later. Is there anything you can do, Mr Speaker, to enable it to be taken now, or earlier, so that my hon. Friend can take her place alongside the other members of the Committee when they meet at 2.30 this afternoon?

As the right hon. Gentleman has acknowledged, this is an unconventional time for points of order, but as his inquiry is time critical I have exercised my discretion, as I did yesterday, to take the point of order. The answer is that, for the protection of all parts of the House, the Order Paper is settled at the end of the previous sitting. The Back-Bench business takes precedence, and the motion to which he refers is one that cannot be made without notice. I am sorry to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman.

I shall exercise my discretion in favour of the very long-serving right hon. and learned Member.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Those of us who were in the Chamber towards the end of yesterday evening’s sitting, over which, if I recall correctly, you presided for a substantial part of the time, must surely recognise that it was not Parliament’s finest hour—although it may have been the latest hour—because there was obstruction that has been met by a response. Surely this matter ought to be referred to the Procedure Committee to see if steps can be taken to prevent this kind of activity in the future?

I note what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says, but I will not comment on that today. Suffice it to say that he has reminded the House of his interest in, and skill at, conciliation—a role to which many will feel he is well suited. We shall leave it there for today.