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Points of Order

Volume 572: debated on Thursday 12 December 2013

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I gave you notice earlier this morning of the broad context of this point of order, but I will now present the details. At 17.55 yesterday evening I received an e-mail informing me that the Secretary of State for Wales would be visiting my constituency this morning. I am pleased that he is visiting Ogmore, because he does not do so often—in fact, he never has. I responded immediately, because I was fortunate enough to be at my desk until late in the evening. At 7.4 this morning I received an apology for the late notice but no details of where he was visiting in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon), even though I had requested them. At 9.43 this morning, following prompting from my hon. Friend, a subsequent e-mail clarified where the Secretary of State was going in the full itinerary. At 10.30 am the visits began. A less charitable Member might think that there had been an intention to avoid my being there to accompany the Secretary of State. Mr Deputy Speaker, will you clarify what the protocol is for informing hon. Members of visits to their constituencies?

It is not a matter for the Chair, but it is very good practice, which has happened, that a Member is informed of another MP going into their constituency. It is up to the Minister whether they want to give details of the visit, but it is always good practice to let the MP know, because—who knows?—they may be able to help with it, and I would have thought that it was beneficial to all for the sake of better communications. I am sure that everyone will have taken that on board.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. A unique procedure was followed very recently in this House when the people at the head of the security services gave evidence to a Select Committee. Unfortunately, this was not the elevating experience that it might have been; it was one that was probably demeaning to this House. There are reports that the questions were notified to the witnesses and that they were carefully manicured questions, and there were even allegations of the answers being rehearsed. That is not in the spirit of scrutiny that this House has followed for years. We now hear reports that the same heads of security are not willing to give evidence, or have possibly been advised by Ministers not to do so, to another Select Committee—the Home Affairs Committee —where there would be proper scrutiny without pre-publication of the questions. Is this not a matter for you, as Deputy Speaker, to investigate?

Absolutely not, but I know that the hon. Gentleman has a very good record of using other avenues to pursue matters, and I am sure that he will not give up just because it is not a matter for the Chair. I look forward to him continuing in other ways.