On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In last Thursday’s business questions I asked for a statement on funding for 18-year-old students. I said that further education colleges such as my local college would be £800 per student worse off but that sixth-form colleges would not be affected. I have since been advised that sixth-form colleges will also suffer a loss in funding, so I want to apologise to the House for the erroneous information I gave last Thursday and to put the correct information on the record.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sure you will agree that Members should always use temperate and moderate language in our exchanges in the Chamber in order, if nothing else, not to offend our constituents. Therefore, can you provide a ruling on whether it was in order for the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) to use the word “bigot” when referring to a Member of the House of Lords and by implication Members of this House when discussing the same-sex marriage Bill? May I ask that your office write to the hon. Gentleman to ensure that his sesquipedalian tendencies do not fall foul of the House again?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and his courtesy in giving me notice of it. I ought perhaps to say to the hon. Gentleman that I trust he informed the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) of his intention to raise this point of order—and I am grateful to him for his nod of assent. I heard the remarks of the hon. Member for Rhondda last week and I did not intervene. I do not think the hon. Gentleman was using the word “bigot” in application to a particular individual and the record at column 360 of Hansard confirms this. I should, however, add that even had he been doing so, I do not feel that accusing others of holding strong opinions on the basis of prejudice rather than fact is altogether uncommon in exchanges in the House and I am not inclined myself to view its use in that way as unparliamentary. That said, I do remind all Members of the need for courtesy and moderation in the language they use in debate and the need to respect the good faith of those on the other side of the argument. I hope that is helpful to the hon. Member for Hendon (Dr Offord) and the House both today and for the future.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Thursday, a Minister from the Department of Energy and Climate Change made a speech to the Solar Britain trade association in which he said:
“we are putting in place the framework to drive even more investment in solar power.”
This morning I met people from Sharp of Japan in my constituency, who informed me that they were withdrawing from production of solar panels in Wrexham and that 615 jobs in my constituency would be lost. Have you received any indication, Mr Speaker, that a Minister of the Department will be coming to the Chamber to explain how it is that they are so out of touch with the industry that they purport to represent?
I do not think the hon. Gentleman will keel over in shock when I advise him that I have received no such indication from any Minister. The hon. Gentleman is a legendarily wily parliamentarian and he knows how to deploy his opportunities to make his case. What he has just raised is not in any meaningful sense a point of order; it is a point of debate, to which I suspect the hon. Gentleman might wish to return, possibly through the medium of an Adjournment debate, and his ambitions may at some point be realised.
House of Commons Members’ Fund Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Mr Peter Lilley, supported by Mr Clive Betts, Mr Brian H. Donohoe, Richard Harrington, David Mowat and John Thurso, presented a Bill to consolidate and amend provisions about the House of Commons Members’ Fund.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 17 January 2014, and to be printed (Bill 145).