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Points of Order

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 17 December 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I cannot think of anyone less like a chocolate teapot than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. May I invite you to prepare a booklet of various examples of intemperate language, such as “chocolate teapot”, that you think might be inappropriate in this House?

The truth of the matter is that it is all about the context in which remarks are made. The hon. Gentleman, who is a keen student of parliamentary history—although I do not think he has written a book on the subject, so in that sense he would not compete with the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant)—will be aware that there was at one time a list of proscribed words, but the list was discontinued, partly, I think, on the grounds that it was so extensive as to become unmanageable. It was judged instead that it was for the Chair to make a judgment about the manner in which something is said and the context in which words are used. I hope that the insatiable curiosity of the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) has now been satisfied, for today at any rate.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that I am right to say that on one occasion the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) accused me of being a teapot. He seems to think that what is right for a teapot is not right for a chocolate teapot.

I fear that this exchange will descend. Colleagues will be aware that the hon. Member for Lichfield previously served in the Whips Office with considerable dedication and loyalty under the leadership of the man who now serves as the Secretary of State for Transport. Whether that explains the differential treatment, I do not know, but I hope that we will leave the matter of teapots and other items there for today.