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Points of Order

Volume 577: debated on Monday 10 March 2014

I was about to thank the Prime Minister and the 47 Back Benchers who questioned him, in 47 minutes of exclusively Back-Bench time, which shows just what we can do when the questions and answers are pithy. But things would not be complete without points of order.

I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Last Thursday, the Secretary of State for Defence made a statement on the radiation leak at the Government’s Vulcan nuclear reactor test establishment at Dounreay. He said that

“there has been no measurable change in the radiation discharge.”—[Official Report, 6 March 2014; Vol. 576, c. 1085.]

We have since learned that all the environment agencies throughout the UK have found a tenfold increase in radioactive emissions. Clearly, both cannot be right. Have you had any indication, Mr Speaker, whether either the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister will come forward to put the record straight? If it is the Prime Minister, may we also have an explanation as to why Scottish Ministers were not told and perhaps even an apology for that omission?

The short answer is that I have had no indication from any Minister of an intention to make a statement on this matter. Whether intentions will change on the back of the hon. Gentleman’s observations, I leave time and speculation by colleagues to reveal. We will leave it there for today, but the hon. Gentleman has put his point on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I hope you will not mind me sucking up to you for a bit. In my view, you are one of the best Speakers that we have had in recent years, because you have tried to make this place more topical. We have had an interesting statement and questions on Ukraine, but such issues are complex, and it is hard to express difficult economic and historical arguments in a 30-second question. As we have a House of Commons in which we are not overburdened with work at the moment, will you use your good offices with those who decide things—I do not know how much power you have—to get a full day’s debate on Ukraine, which after all is an extraordinarily important issue that we need to discuss urgently?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for his characteristic good humour in putting it. As he knows, that is not a matter for the Chair. The Government Chief Whip is present, but at least as importantly the Leader of the House is also present.

As colleagues know and as people who attend our proceedings appreciate, I am the servant of the House. I love listening to my colleagues on matters of local, national and global importance. My appetite for listening to them is pretty much unlimited. I would love there to be a full day’s debate and I would love to be in the Chair to hear the bulk of it, but I am dependent on a superior power in these matters, namely the Leader of the House. The hon. Gentleman, however, has made his point, and the Leader of the House cannot fail to have heard his point and my response. As for the response of the Leader of the House, it has to be said that it should probably be best described by Hansard as impassive.