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Points of Order

Volume 551: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2012

Order. I am sorry, but before the hon. Gentleman proceeds with his point of order, may I ask Members who are—perhaps unaccountably—leaving the Chamber to do so quickly and quietly, affording the same courtesy to the hon. Gentleman that they would wish to be extended to them under comparable circumstances?

Thank you, as always, Mr Speaker. You will remember the long campaign, successfully waged three years ago, to change the law so that the home addresses of Members of Parliament would never be disclosed as a result of freedom of information requests. A number of colleagues from both sides of the House have approached me about a freedom of information request that those colleagues who, unlike me, rent their homes should have their landlords’ names disclosed. There is concern that this could breach the security of MPs’ home addresses. Can you tell us what action you propose to take in this matter?

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I well remember the events of three years ago and more, in which he was closely involved. I note the point of order that he has raised. He will be aware that we do not discuss security matters on the Floor of the House. That said, I am very conscious of this current issue, to which he has drawn attention. It might be helpful to him and the House to know that I share some of the very real concerns that have been expressed across the House by Members, and I wrote—in, I hope, courteous but explicit terms—on this matter yesterday to the chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. If Members wish to see my letter, they are most welcome to do so; a copy might usefully be placed in the Library of the House. I will keep my eye on the situation on behalf of Members.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister comes to the Chamber at 12 noon each Wednesday to answer Prime Minister’s questions. Is it in order to for him to say that he refuses to answer a question?

It is entirely up to Ministers how they respond to the questions posed. I understand the concern and frustration that underlies the hon. Gentleman’s point of order, but the responsibilities and powers of the Chair are not engaged in the matter. The House can make its own assessment, and everyone else can do so as well.