Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 540: debated on Monday 20 February 2012

On a point of order relating to the Code of Conduct, on which no further points of order may arise, I call Mr Mark Simmonds.

It has been brought to my attention that on 31 January and 16 March 2011, I inadvertently omitted to draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests relating to strategic advice that I provide to a social enterprise health care provider. I would like to take this opportunity both to correct the record and to apologise.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You may have seen reports last week that while on a conference in India an official from the Office for Nuclear Regulation lost a memory stick containing information and plans relating to Hartlepool nuclear power station. I have yet to be informed of this by the Government. Going back many years, Ministers faced with data loss have come to this House to answer questions and explain their actions. Given that precedent and the paramount importance of securing and safeguarding our civil nuclear industry, is it in order that the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has chosen not to inform me or to come to this House? What powers do you have, Sir, to ensure that I can receive notification and provide reassurance to my constituents on this important breach of data?

It is a matter for Ministers to make statements as and when they judge appropriate, if policy options or announcements are due. From what the hon. Gentleman has said so far, it is not immediately obvious to me that there is any matter of order on which the Chair need rule, but his words are on the record, and I shall take particular pleasure in observing them for a second time when I read the Official Report. If I have any further thoughts on the matter at that point, he will be the first to hear; meanwhile his constituents will know of what he has said.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you will be aware, the Scotland Bill is still making its way through Parliament. Last week the Prime Minister made a visit to Scotland, where he announced that he is now in favour of more devolution and that his proposal is “on the table”. Given that the UK Government repeatedly say that a lack of detail about constitutional change causes uncertainty, will you confirm whether Ministers have sought to make a statement about any changes to the Scotland Bill?

I can confirm that they have not, and if I were a more cynical fellow than I am, I might be tempted to conclude that the hon. Gentleman was seeking to dress up in the language of constitutionalism an important point—a fundamental point; and, for him, an urgent point—that was nevertheless overwhelmingly a political point. But as I am not so cynical, I will not so conclude.