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Points of Order

Volume 552: debated on Thursday 1 November 2012

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Last week, the hon. Member for Derby North (Chris Williamson) accused me in a point of order of wrongdoing. I am pleased that you rejected his claims. May I seek your advice, sir, on the protocol, and not least the courtesy, that hon. Members should show each other in giving prior notice of when they are making an accusation against another hon. Member?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The position has been and remains entirely clear. If a right hon. or hon. Member is going to allege misconduct on the part of another Member, there is a duty to inform the subject of the complaint in advance of making that complaint on the Floor of the House.

Order. The hon. Gentleman must contain himself; his appetite will be satisfied ere long.

It is in all our interests for us to operate on the basis that I have described. I thank the hon. Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) for giving me the opportunity to make the position absolutely clear.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Government have now decided that they will deal with Back-Bench business by ignoring it, not taking part and therefore not giving the House the opportunity to express a view. I do not believe that that is acceptable, Mr Speaker. Would you like to comment?

That is not really a point of order for the Chair now, although I could have an interesting discussion with the hon. Gentleman or other Members about it. How the Government react to individual Backbench Business Committee debates must be a matter for the Government.

I do not think that now is the occasion for me to enunciate an entire doctrine on the subject, but suffice it to say that I am hearing what is being said and attending to it rather closely. I am sure that the Government will want to respect the debates that take place under the auspices of the Backbench Business Committee; after all, the House, with Government support, established the Backbench Business Committee.