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Points of Order

Volume 536: debated on Thursday 24 November 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will have heard in DEFRA questions a couple of hours ago the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon), tell the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray) that he had protected the budget for the wildlife crime unit and for raising awareness about the need for people not to bring animal products back into this country when they go on holiday. That rang alarm bells for me because I asked the Under-Secretary how much he was contributing to the wildlife crime unit this year and he replied, in a parliamentary answer in March, that he had cut his contribution to that budget. Also, the budget for activity at airports and the “Don’t bring me back” campaign was about £45,000 under the Labour Government and has fallen to less than £25,000 per annum, so I wanted to set the House straight and to give the Minister the opportunity to correct the record as soon as possible.

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. My responsibilities do not extend to the financing of the fight against wildlife crime and I do not think there is a matter for the Chair here. One could be forgiven for thinking that the hon. Lady was seeking to continue the debate that took place at Question Time, but that would be an uncharitable view for me to take. Knowing her as I do, I know that she would not engage in that sort of unworthy endeavour. She has put her thoughts on the record and if the Minister were here he could respond, but he is not, so he cannot.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware, further to the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Tom Blenkinsop) made, of the disgraceful actions of Tory students at St Andrews university on Friday night when they burned an effigy of President Obama. The Courier newspaper has today reported that this action has failed to receive condemnation from the Tory leader and that it has received widespread coverage in the United States. On behalf of the people of Fife, may I make it clear that we absolutely condemn those actions? Has the Foreign Secretary indicated to you, Mr Speaker—

Order. I think we have heard enough. It was instructive for me to listen to what the hon. Gentleman had to say. Obviously, I have no responsibility for these matters, but the issue was aired a few moments ago and the Leader of the House’s response was absolutely explicit. As to what other members of the Government might or might not say or what statements on the subject could or could not be issued, that is not a matter for me. The hon. Gentleman is invariably like a dog with a bone and so I rather suspect he will pursue the matter if he feels so inclined, but I hope that he will not do so by trespassing on the time of the Backbench Business Committee.