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Point of Order

Volume 559: debated on Thursday 7 March 2013

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I apologise for clumsily trying to make it earlier.

During business questions today, the shadow Leader of the House, the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle)—to whom I have given notice of my point of order—referred to me and to an article in The Sun. I was under the impression that it was a convention in the House that a Member who was to be mentioned by another should be given notice. If the hon. Lady had done that, I should have been able to inform her that the comments in the paper to which she referred were completely untrue, and that I am in the process of exchanging letters and seeking an apology and a retraction. However, at least this point of order has given me an opportunity to put it on record that I do not believe that the Prime Minister is sexist in any way, and also that the House should celebrate unconscious bias training as a way of increasing diversity, which we should all want.

Let me say in fairness that the shadow Leader of the House apologised to me for having to leave because she had to attend a meeting that was about to start. She waited as long as possible.

The hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) was in the Chamber when she was mentioned in passing. It was not a personal attack; it was merely a mention of the hon. Lady, so the normal custom did not apply. If the hon. Lady had not been present and it had been a personal attack, one would have expected her to be notified.

The hon. Lady is, rightly, seeking a retraction from The Sun. That is not a matter for the Chair, but let me say that the House wishes her well.