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Point of Order

Volume 576: debated on Tuesday 4 March 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 5 November, in a Westminster Hall debate, the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter) stated unequivocally that hepatitis C is not a curable condition. It has been drawn to my attention by the Hepatitis C Trust and a number of others that the Minister may have inadvertently misled Parliament, because with current treatments the cure rates are about 70%—or even higher, according to the NHS Choices website. Hepatitis C is a hugely overlooked and under-diagnosed condition, and I seek your guidance, Mr Speaker, on how we can have the record corrected so that the public are not misled by the Minister’s comments.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. My response to him, a persistent fellow, is twofold. First, all Members have responsibility for the veracity of the statements they make in the Chamber. In the event that an error is made, it is incumbent upon the Member, be they a Back Bencher or a Front Bencher, a Minister or an Opposition Member, to correct the record. Secondly, on the strength of what I have heard, and I use those words advisedly, it seems to me that this is, in essence, a matter of political debate.

I am weighing my words carefully, notwithstanding the evident frustration of the hon. Gentleman, and it is not obvious to me that there is a role for the Chair here. He asks my advice and my advice to him is that he should be persistent—I am not sure he needs this advice—and repetitive. Doubtless he will find other opportunities to raise his point, courtesy of the use of the Order Paper. He has been doing it for the past nearly four years and there is no reason to suppose that he will change the habits of what, thus far, has been his parliamentary lifetime.