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Points of Order

Volume 543: debated on Monday 30 April 2012

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister told the House earlier this afternoon that the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport had, in answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann), published all the correspondence between the Government and News Corp relating to its bid for BSkyB, yet the answer makes it clear that that is not the case. It says:

“Records of meetings, telephone calls held between officials and press officers with outside parties and records of telephone calls and email exchanges between officials and Ministers and outside parties are not recorded centrally and would incur a disproportionate cost to collect.”

The answer concludes:

“A search for correspondence from officials, press officers and special advisers to and from all the individuals listed would incur disproportionate cost to collect.”—[Official Report, 7 September 2011; Vol. 532, c. 616W.]

Will you consider the matter, Mr Deputy Speaker, and see whether there is any way in which the Prime Minister can be brought here to correct the record, so that the House has accurate information on what actually occurred?

The point has been made and is certainly on the record. If the hon. Lady is unhappy, perhaps it would be an idea for her to write to the Speaker with her views.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Last Friday, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced the Government’s plans for student number controls to be applied to higher education institutions for the academic year 2013-14. The announcement was made in a press release on the Department’s website. This is the second time that the Government have not brought an announcement on student number controls to the House first. In addition, the Department has not yet provided a response to the consultation on student number controls following the publication of the White Paper last summer. Will you advise me, Mr Deputy Speaker, on how we can ensure that such important decisions, which have far-reaching consequences for higher education institutions and students alike, are made in the House first, and subject to full parliamentary scrutiny?

Mr Speaker has a strong view and opinion on the subject. He believes that this House should hear announcements through oral or written statements. Of course, the point is now on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In the Prime Minister’s statement earlier today, he refused—not for the first time—to answer a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner) on account of his age. That sort of discrimination would not be accepted against black or female Members, so I have no idea why this House has tolerated, on numerous occasions, Members at the Dispatch Box refusing to answer my hon. Friend’s questions. Will you—or, indeed, Mr Speaker—say what action can be taken? I ask not on behalf of my hon. Friend, who can stick up for himself, but on behalf of every person in my constituency who gets discriminated against because of their age, and sees the Prime Minister do exactly that. This House should be above that. What action can be taken to make sure that today is the last time we have to see this disgusting spectacle?

There is no place in this Chamber for racism, ageism, gender discrimination—I could go on. That is about respect to all Members. The point has quite rightly been put on the record; I hope that people will take on board what I have said, and what the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins) has stated. Dennis Skinner is a long-serving Member of this House, and like all other Members, he should be treated with respect.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you or the Speaker have received a request from the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General to make a statement on a report, published today by the National Children’s Bureau, that suggests that 25% of the children’s charities that took part in the research could close as a direct result of Government funding cuts, despite the importance of such charities in helping some of the most vulnerable in the country. Will that not be just one more reason for the country to think that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are out of touch with reality and the rest of us?

As you know, that is not a point of order for the Chair, but the point is now on the record; anybody who wished to hear it has either heard it, or can read it in Hansard.