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Points of Order

Volume 569: debated on Thursday 24 October 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to raise the issue of access to the House at busy times. Even on a day like today, when we are about to debate interest rate swap derivatives, there is a lot of interest among angry constituents. Have you noticed that recently the queues to get into the House for meetings with Members of Parliament have sometimes been an hour and a half to two hours long? That is new. Will you get someone to look into why these queues are so long? I am told it is not a matter of security, but something else. The House should be more accessible.

I certainly shall, and I shall revert to the hon. Gentleman and, as necessary, to the House. I am not sure with what frequency queues are lasting that long, but if it is a regular phenomenon as opposed to an exceptional one that is very unsatisfactory. The hon. Gentleman is nodding to suggest that it is a regular phenomenon. If that is so, it is disturbing. I will look into it and I will come to back to him and, if necessary, to the House.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Newspaper reports today say that the New Zealand Government have agreed to reduce their universal service obligation for post from six days to three, following heavy lobbying from New Zealand Post on the unsustainability of the USO. The Minister with responsibility for Royal Mail told the House in Business, Innovation and Skills questions last month that changing the USO in this country required primary legislation. That was later changed in a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Tom Blenkinsop), but the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) refused to correct the record during BIS questions this month. Is there any mechanism by which we may have the Minister clarify the position in the House on how the USO can be changed?

I cannot say that I am familiar with the minutiae of public policy in New Zealand; nor is that a matter properly for the Chair. Ministers, in common with all other Members, are responsible for the accuracy of the statements they make to the House. If a Member thinks that an error has been made, there are opportunities outside the Chamber and through the Order Paper to pursue such a matter. Meanwhile, the Government Chief Whip and other members of the Government are on the Treasury Bench and I trust they will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s point of order.