Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 563: debated on Monday 13 May 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will know that the parliamentary website states officially:

“If the Queen’s Speech is amended, the Prime Minister must resign.”

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 has obviously changed what constitutes a no confidence motion but, historically, any amendment to the Queen’s Speech has been termed a no confidence motion.

I raise that question because the ministerial code of conduct, which is embodied in a motion of this House, states:

“Parliamentary Private Secretaries are expected to support the Government in important divisions in the House. No Parliamentary Private Secretary who votes against the Government can retain his or her position.”

I understand that the Prime Minister is letting his PPSs know that they are free to vote as they wish. Does that not suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that the Prime Minister has no confidence in his own Government?

What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is twofold. If he is quoting accurately, the website is wrong and can speedily be put right. On the second point, I simply say for his benefit and that of the House that the selection of amendments has not yet taken place. He is therefore in the realm of the hypothetical. Whether he wishes to be there I cannot say, but I do not and, I trust, neither does the House.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. At 3 o’clock in the morning on 6 May in Shapla square in Dhaka, the capital of a Commonwealth country, Bangladesh, thousands of sleeping demonstrators were set upon by commandos. The reports are that significant numbers of people have been killed. Have you had any indication that the Foreign Secretary wishes to come to the House and make a statement about those extraordinary events?

I have received no such indication. However, when I think of the hon. Gentleman and an issue of concern to him, I almost invariably think of dogs and bones. Therefore, I imagine that this is a matter to which he will take other parliamentary opportunities to return. We look forward with interest and anticipation.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You may be aware that last Thursday, Andrew Dilnot, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions regarding his misuse of official statistics on the benefit cap. It was found that, once again, the Department was making claims that were unsupported by official statistics. That follows similar issues regarding the Child Support Agency statistics in February, and also extends to the Secretary of State for Health and his health funding claims last December, and even to the Prime Minister’s use of official statistics last October. The Work and Pensions Committee has also—

Order. I allowed the hon. Lady to pursue—[Interruption.] Order. No assistance from anybody is required. I let the hon. Lady raise her point of order, but it was in danger of becoming an abuse. From what I heard, the matter that she raised is obviously of concern to her and to others, but is not a point of order or a matter for the Chair. There are opportunities, which I am sure she will use, to draw attention to the issue. We will leave it there.