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Points of Order

Volume 558: debated on Tuesday 5 February 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on whether it is appropriate for a Minister to refuse to meet hon. Members to discuss important matters relating to their constituencies. It seems extraordinary that a Minister has refused three times to meet elected Members of Parliament, who should be given respect.

Even if something is extraordinary, that does not necessarily render it disorderly. It is not a matter for the Chair; it is a matter between the Minister and the Member. The hon. Gentleman has made his point. If the Minister wants briefly to respond, he can.

I am very grateful, Mr Speaker, because I want to ensure, in the interests of clarity, that the hon. Gentleman understands what I have just said: once he and his colleagues have worked out what it is they want, I am very happy to meet them.

I hope there is just a possibility of an outbreak of harmony, but as the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) is on his feet I somewhat doubt it.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Will you confirm that right hon. and hon. Members have only two privileges that are not available to every citizen in this country? One is freedom of speech in this Chamber, subject to your rulings, and the other is access to Ministers.

I am reluctant to enter into a debate on this matter. The first point is unarguable; the second is something about which I have just opined. I know that the right hon. Gentleman would not seek to lure me further, because that would be unfair and the right hon. Gentleman would never knowingly be unfair.