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Points of Order

Volume 552: debated on Tuesday 30 October 2012

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. During yesterday’s urgent question on ash dieback, we discussed the Government’s reductions to forest research, and I inadvertently misled the House. I said that they had cut it from £12 million to £7 million, but in fact the figure is £10 million. I hope that the House will accept my apology and that the record can be put straight.

I am sure that the House is extremely grateful to the hon. Lady. What she said is now on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In response to a written question from my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) on the burial of what we hope turns out to be Richard III, the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant), wrote on Friday that

“the current plan is for them to be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.”—[Official Report, 25 October 2012; Vol. 551, c. 997W.]

That answer was welcomed and seen as very exciting in the city of Leicester. Last night, however, the Department appeared to backtrack. When asked, it refused to repeat her words and simply said:

“We will await the results before any burial arrangements are made.”

No one would want to accuse the Government of now U-turning on Richard III. Will you advise us, Mr Speaker, on whether the Under-Secretary has given notice of her intention to come to the House to clear up the confusion?

We are always obliged to the hon. Gentleman for chuntering from a sedentary position about hearses. I hope he will be good enough to allow me to intervene on him and respond to the point of order from the hon. Member for Leicester South (Jonathan Ashworth). First, I think that his late majesty has been dead for long enough to evade our normal rules on references to monarchs. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman has put the matter on the record and attempted to obtain clarification, which will have been heard on the Treasury Bench, but beyond that I am afraid that it is not a matter for the Chair.

Further to a point of order that I raised in the House yesterday evening, Mr Speaker. Have you received any notification from the Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr Heath), that he intends to apologise to the House, or at least clarify the comments that he made yesterday in the First Delegated Legislation Committee about wild animals in circuses? He inadvertently—I am sure—misled the Committee by claiming that a full ban on wild animals in circuses had been part of Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech to this Parliament. That is not the case. Since the approval of that order is on today’s Order Paper and will have to be dealt with by the House, surely it would be appropriate for him to come to the House to apologise or clarify his comments.

The short answer to the first question in the hon. Gentleman’s attempted point of order is no. I have received no indication of the Minister’s intention to make a statement. The hon. Gentleman is a wily and experienced hand who has made his own point in his own way, but I know also that he would not seek to embroil me in his controversy with the Minister, for that would be unworthy conduct of which I feel sure he would never be guilty.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware that the Government, uniquely, withdrew a statutory instrument on cuts to injuries compensation from a Committee and said that they would listen to the concerns on both sides of the House about the cuts. Are you aware that the statutory instrument is being brought back unchanged to a Committee this Thursday? Have you had any request from the Government for a Minister to make a statement to explain their abject failure to listen to Members and the public at large on this important issue?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. Again, let me seek to engage with him directly. The answer is no, I was not aware that the statutory instrument was being brought back, as he puts it, unamended this Thursday. I am sorry if he feels that I have been inattentive in not being aware of that salient fact, but the truth is that I was not. More importantly, however, whatever he thinks about the matter, there is nothing disorderly about it. The matter can be debated in that Committee, and I have a hunch that it probably will be.

The right hon. Gentleman assures me from a sedentary position that it will be. We are grateful to him.

Bill Presented

Mental Health (Approval Functions)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Secretary Hunt, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Secretary Hague, Mrs Secretary May, Secretary Chris Grayling and Norman Lamb, presented a Bill to authorise things done before the day on which this Act is passed in the purported exercise of functions relating to the approval of registered medical practitioners and clinicians under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time today, and to be printed (Bill 83) with explanatory notes (Bill 83-EN).