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Points of Order

Volume 558: debated on Wednesday 13 February 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Will you confirm—I hope the Secretary of State will stay for this, as I will be brief—that there is a process whereby a Minister can correct what they have said in the House when they have inadvertently misled it? The Secretary of State said earlier that the details of meetings between newspaper proprietors and editors and Ministers are published in the ordinary way—I think the precise words she used were “the normal way”. In actual fact, they have not now been published in the normal or ordinary way for eight months. At a time when the Government are debating a very sensitive issue and bringing forward proposals in relation to the newspaper industry, I think that our voters would expect complete transparency on the matter. She can correct the record, can she not?

It is open to the Minister to correct the record if she has made a mistake and if she therefore judges it necessary to do so. She can respond now, but she is under absolutely no obligation to do so.

That is fair enough. The hon. Gentleman has raised his point and I have given him his answer. I hope that is clear.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. My apologies to you and to Members of the House. I neglected to draw attention to my entry in the register. I am the author of a book on corruption at News Corporation.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am familiar with his book and have myself read it. He has put it on the record. [Interruption.] The Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), is requesting a copy. I do not think that the purpose of the exercise was to increase sales of the book, but that might be the inadvertent consequence.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Have you had any notice from Ministers in either the Home Office or the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that they wish to correct the record of written answers to me regarding a report prepared by Operation Podium on ticket crime? I ask because Ministers in both Departments responded to my request that they place a copy of the report in the Library by saying that the information it contained is operationally sensitive. I have a copy in my possession and know that it does not contain sensitive information. In fact, it states clearly on the front that it is not protectively marked and that it is suitable for the publication scheme. I am also aware that it has been distributed to many commercial organisations. I am sure that Ministers did not intend to mislead the House or withhold information from it, so if you have not received word that Ministers would like to correct the record, will you advise me on the best course of action to pursue to remind the Government of their duties to Members of the House?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order and for her courtesy in providing me with notice of it. She has expressed her dissatisfaction with the answers to her questions she has received and explained the basis of that dissatisfaction. Ministers will also have noted her concerns, or will shortly hear of them. If she remains dissatisfied, she may pursue the matter through the mechanism of debate, or it is open to her to raise the nature of the answers she has received with the House’s Procedure Committee. One approach would be to write to, or otherwise have contact with, the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker), who chairs the Committee. Those on the Treasury Bench will have heard her point of order. I hope that addresses the matter for today.