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Point of Order

Volume 579: debated on Monday 7 April 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister said this morning that he is “very open” to suggestions on how to reform the system that some would describe as MPs regulating themselves through the Committee on Standards. I note that there is no ministerial statement so that the House can make suggestions for the Prime Minister and the Government to consider. What opportunities might there be for the House to discuss not the behaviour and actions of any individual Members but the principle of self-regulation of MPs by MPs?

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Undoubtedly these have been very bad days for the reputation of this House. My hon. Friend’s point on self-regulation is interesting, and of course it has been voiced by other Members and by people outside the House. Before the House rises on Thursday, what mechanism is there for us to discuss this important issue? I do not want to raise the particular case but the general question of how we regulate ourselves and recognise the amount of criticism, justified or otherwise, that has been expressed outside by many people, and by no means just the media, over the past few days.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. This has just crossed my mind, and I thought I had better use it before you do: how do you solve the problem called Maria?

I am grateful to the hon. Members for their points of order, or attempted points of order. I am obliged to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) for what he said about not seeking to debate a particular case. I feel sure that he is well familiar with “Erskine May” page 396, which specifically stipulates that there cannot be debate on the conduct of an individual hon. or right hon. Member, other than on a substantive motion. No substantive motion is on the Order Paper, and therefore no such discussion can or should take place.

I simply say to the hon. Gentleman that Governments may make statements to the House when they wish. The Government have not chosen to make a statement today. It is perfectly possible for exchanges on the principles of the issue that concern him and others to take place between now and when we rise later this week. That might take the form of a question or a debate. I am very open to these matters being aired if right hon. and hon. Members wish to air them. However, it must be done in an orderly way. That is the sole responsibility of the Chair in this matter. I know his persistence and that of other right hon. and hon. Members. I am sure that they will use the opportunities that are available to seek to air their concerns at the earliest opportunity—concerns that, as the hon. Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) articulated, are shared widely by our constituents.