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Point of Order

Volume 573: debated on Monday 13 January 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. At Prime Minister’s questions last week, the Prime Minister said, in relation to the Scottish independence referendum, that the subject was one for

“debate among the people in Scotland.”—[Official Report, 8 January 2014; Vol. 573, c. 307.]

However, we have learned that a Cabinet Office official working on Scottish constitutional issues and Andrew Dunlop, who is Downing street’s Scotland adviser, have been co-ordinating in Madrid with the Spanish Government in opposition to independence. Meanwhile, the official ITAR-TASS News Agency has cited a source in the Prime Minister’s office as confirming a desire in Whitehall for Russian support in opposition to Scottish independence. What options are open to Members to scrutinise UK Government special advisers, given the Prime Minister’s assurances that the issue is one for debate among the people in Scotland?

Order. First, Ministers are of course responsible for the accuracy of what they say in the House, in common with all other Members. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman asks what avenues are open to Members to enable them to scrutinise special advisers and undertake scrutiny more widely. The answer is that there are manifold mechanisms available to them, including the use of the Order Paper and, dare I say it, the ingenious, and some might think occasionally outrageous, deployment of bogus points of order.