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Points of Order

Volume 583: debated on Wednesday 2 July 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Just now, during Prime Minister’s Question Time, the Prime Minister appeared to suggest that the number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for an operation had gone down since his reorganisation. I have the figures here. In April 2010, 20,662 people waited longer than 18 weeks. In April 2014, the figure was 29,417. The number has gone up. Do you not think, Mr Speaker, that the Prime Minister might correct the record before he leaves the Chamber?

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I can tell the House and the right hon. Gentleman that the numbers waiting longer than 18, 26 and 52 weeks to start treatment are lower than they were at any time under the last Government. Those are the facts. The Opposition were caught out with dodgy statistics yesterday, and I think that they have just done it again.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In yesterday’s Finance Bill debate, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood) said that the tax gap was £32 billion when the previous Government left office and that it has now gone up to £35 billion. Official Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs figures show the tax gap was actually £42 billion when Labour left office, so there has been a fall of £7 billion under this Government. I know the Opposition are keen to regain some financial credibility, so I hope the hon. Lady will correct the record and also find time to congratulate this Government on their progress in—

Order. May I just say to the hon. Gentleman—and I say it in a cordial spirit—that that was another action replay? We have now had two action replays today, and I must strongly counsel colleagues against raising as attempted, but actually bogus, points of order what are really political points. Otherwise this phenomenon will multiply over the next nine months or so, which is undesirable. The hon. Gentleman has made his point and it is on the record, and we will leave it there—and I am grateful for his nod of assent to my ruling.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the tragic Tornado collision when two Tornadoes collided over the Moray firth and three service personnel lost their lives. Yesterday the Ministry of Defence accepted liability for the collision, but it has not updated the House or appropriate parliamentarians on the MOD’s responsibility or answered questions on the service inquiry report, which was published on Monday. The whole situation is frankly disgraceful. What is the best route to ensure that the MOD answers to the House, to explain its responsibilities and clarify its liability, and to say when a warning system will be installed in both Tornado and Typhoon aircraft?

The response to the hon. Gentleman is twofold. [Interruption.] Order. If a Minister wishes to catch my eye, he or she is perfectly entitled to do so, but the hon. Gentleman raised his point of order, at least ostensibly, with the Chair and therefore perhaps he will rest content with my answer, and the answer is, as I said, twofold. First, it is up to Ministers to decide whether they think an oral statement is required. Secondly, in the absence of an oral statement, it is perfectly open to the hon. Gentleman to seek a debate in this House on the Adjournment. To the best of my knowledge, the hon. Gentleman has not thus far done so, but he might find that he is successful if he does. We will leave that matter there for today.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have notified the Justice Secretary of my intention to raise this point of order. Yesterday in Justice questions he claimed that my allegations about the selection process for the south Yorkshire probation service were nonsense and that there was a carefully constructed process of selection and a proper appeal mechanism for those who were not selected. I have here a letter from Angela Tinker, the human resources systems manager at South Yorkshire Probation Trust, to my constituent, Gwen MacDonald, in which she says:

“There was a random selection process and employee numbers were used to select between NPS”—

national probation service—“and CRC”, or community rehabilitation companies. It continues:

“Employee numbers were drawn out of a hat”,

which confirms exactly the allegations I was making, and also that yesterday the Justice Secretary inadvertently misled the House. Can you, Mr Speaker, let us know how he might have the opportunity to set the record straight?

There are two points here. First, everybody takes responsibility for his or her utterances in this House. There is a formal means by which a Minister can correct the record, if he or she judges it necessary to do so, and that is through a statement to colleagues. Secondly—and I say this in all politeness to the hon. Gentleman, as I did to another Member—Members should not use the point of order procedure to continue debate. Although I am greatly flattered by the extent of the powers that hon. and right hon. Members think I enjoy, they sometimes have a somewhat exaggerated notion of what, in practice, I can be expected to achieve. The hon. Gentleman is, I am sure, now an increasingly experienced and discerning fellow. Judging by the broad smile on his face, he knows that he has had a go and he has got it on the record, and he can now go and enjoy his lunch, resting content. We will leave it there.

I hope it is a genuine one. I have known the hon. Gentleman for 25 years and I hope he is not going to let me down.

We have indeed known one another for 25 years, Mr Speaker. As we were previously involved in politics together, we had a great reverence for this Chamber of Parliament and for hon. Members on all sides telling the truth to it on all occasions. You have correctly identified the mechanism that Ministers who have misled Parliament can use to rectify that. May I ask you what the correct mechanism is for other hon. Members who inadvertently, or deliberately, mislead Parliament?

The answer is that a Member can take the opportunity through an intervention or a speech, or through a personal statement, to correct the record if that Member judges it necessary to do so. But we have, in essence, a self-regulating procedure in the House, and the hon. Gentleman, as a keen student of procedure, will recognise the truth of what I have just said. We will leave it there for now, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for not denting my confidence in his tendency to behave properly.

Bills Presented

Affordable Homes Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Andrew George, supported by Mr Nick Raynsford, Mr Charles Kennedy, Jeremy Lefroy, Caroline Lucas, Mr Clive Betts, Stephen Gilbert, Mr Mark Williams, Alison Seabeck, Mr Adrian Sanders, Valerie Vaz and Mr Grahame M. Morris, presented a Bill to make provision about the availability of affordable homes; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 September, and to be printed (Bill 13).

International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Michael Moore, supported by Mr Andrew Mitchell, Annette Brooke, Mrs Anne McGuire, Alistair Burt, John Thurso, Mr Tom Clarke, Fiona Bruce, Roger Williams, Hugh Bayley, Jeremy Lefroy and Dr Julian Huppert, presented a Bill to make provision about the meeting by the United Kingdom of the target for official development assistance (ODA) to constitute 0.7 per cent of gross national income; to make provision for independent verification that ODA is spent efficiently and effectively; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 September, and to be printed (Bill 14 ).

European Union (Referendum) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Robert Neill, supported by Sir Tony Baldry, Guto Bebb, Mr Graham Brady, Sir William Cash, Mr Nigel Dodds, Mr Stephen Dorrell, Jackie Doyle-Price, Dr Liam Fox, Zac Goldsmith, Sir Gerald Howarth and Sheryll Murray, presented a Bill to make provision for the holding of a referendum in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 17 October, and to be printed (Bill 15).

Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Jeremy Lefroy, on behalf of Mr Richard Bacon, supported by Nick Herbert, John Mann, John Pugh, Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil, Mr Nigel Evans, Sir Edward Leigh, Jim Fitzpatrick, David Morris, George Freeman, Mr Philip Hollobone and Mr Graham Allen, presented a Bill to place a duty on local authorities to keep a register of individuals and community groups who have expressed an interest in acquiring land to bring forward self-build and custom-build projects and to take account of and make provision for the interests of those on such registers in developing their housing initiatives and their local plans; to allow volume house builders to include self-build and custom-build projects as contributing towards their affordable housing obligations, when in partnership for this purpose with a Registered Social Landlord; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 October, and to be printed (Bill 16).

Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Jeremy Lefroy, supported by George Freeman, Sir William Cash, Ann Clwyd, Margot James, Sir Tony Cunningham, Dr Phillip Lee, Sir Malcolm Bruce, Fiona Bruce, Charlotte Leslie, Julian Sturdy and Andrew George, presented a Bill to make provision about the safety of health and social care services in England; to make provision about the integration of information relating to users of health and social care services in England; to make provision about the sharing of information relating to an individual for the purposes of providing that individual with health or social care services in England; to make provision for removing individuals convicted of certain offences from the registers kept by the regulatory bodies for health and social care professions; to make provision about the objectives of the regulatory bodies for health and social care professions and the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care; to make provision about the disposal of cases concerning a person’s fitness to practise a health or social care profession; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 7 November, and to be printed (Bill 17) with explanatory notes (Bill 17-EN).

Gosh, the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) is a busy bee.

National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Clive Efford, supported by Frank Dobson, Ms Karen Buck, Mr Andy Slaughter, Grahame M. Morris, Diana Johnson, Alison Seabeck, Shabana Mahmood, Steve Rotheram, John Healey, Mr Dennis Skinner and Angela Smith, presented a Bill to re-establish the Secretary of State’s legal duty to provide national health services in England; to amend the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 relating to Monitor; to repeal the regulations made under section 75 of that Act; to make other amendments to the provisions in that Act relating to competition and provision of private health services; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 21 November, and to be printed (Bill 18).

Tenancies (Reform) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Sarah Teather, supported by Tessa Munt, Tim Farron, Sir Peter Bottomley, Bob Blackman, Mr Andrew Smith, Sir Andrew Stunell, John Healey, Jeremy Lefroy, Mr Philip Hollobone, Nicola Blackwood and Fiona Mactaggart, presented a Bill to protect tenants against retaliatory eviction; to amend the law on notices requiring possession relating to assured shorthold tenancies; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 28 November, and to be printed (Bill 19).

Control of Horses Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Julian Sturdy, supported by James Wharton, Mr Philip Hollobone, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Neil Parish, Jeremy Lefroy, Andrew Percy, Mr Graham Stuart, Ian Swales, David Morris and Caroline Nokes, presented a Bill to make provision for the taking of action in relation to horses which are in public places; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 October, and to be printed (Bill 20).

Never was there a more appropriate linkage between name and title.

Local Government (Review of Decisions) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Mr Mark Spencer, supported by Chris Heaton-Harris, Simon Kirby, Karl MᶜCartney, Stephen McPartland, Caroline Nokes, Heather Wheeler, John Stevenson and Jackie Doyle-Price, presented a Bill to make provision about the procedure for conducting investigations under Part 3 of the Local Government Act 1974; and to make provision for cases where an authority to which that Part applies takes a decision that affects the holding of an event for a reason relating to health or safety.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 October, and to be printed (Bill 21) with explanatory notes (Bill 21-EN).

Off-Patent Drugs Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Robert Neill, on behalf of Jonathan Evans, supported by Annette Brooke, Sir Alan Meale, Dame Angela Watkinson, Dr Liam Fox, Robert Neill, John Healey, Glyn Davies, Dr Phillip Lee, Mr Elfyn Llwyd, Mr David Nuttall and Dr Sarah Wollaston, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to take steps to secure licences for off-patent drugs in new indications; to require the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to conduct technology appraisals for off-patent drugs in new indications; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 7 November, and to be printed (Bill 22).

Zero Hours Contracts Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Ian Mearns, supported by Grahame M. Morris, Ian Lavery, Pat Glass, Steve Rotheram, Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck, Andy McDonald, Kelvin Hopkins, Katy Clark, John Cryer, Jim Sheridan, Mr Dennis Skinner and Mr Ronnie Campbell, presented a Bill to limit the use of zero-hours contracts; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 21 November, and to be printed (Bill 23).

We are grateful to you, Mr Campbell, for your sedentary interjection.

Low Pay Commission (National Minimum Wage) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Dan Jarvis, supported by Margaret Beckett, Stephen Doughty, Jack Dromey, Julie Elliott, Lilian Greenwood, Mike Kane, Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck, Alison McGovern, Mr Jamie Reed, Mr Steve Reed and Alison Seabeck, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to set a target for the Low Pay Commission to increase the minimum wage during the term of a Parliament; to require the Low Pay Commission to write to the Secretary of State if this target cannot be met; to require the Secretary of State to ensure that the Low Pay Commission has the power to set up taskforces in certain sectors; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 28 November, and to be printed (Bill 24).

Local Government (Religious etc Observances) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Jake Berry, supported by Mr Stewart Jackson, Mr Ben Wallace and Fiona Bruce, presented a Bill to make provision about the inclusion at local authority meetings of observances that are, and about powers of local authorities in relation to events that to any extent are, religious or related to a religious or philosophical belief.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 21 November, and to be printed (Bill 25).

Household Safety (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Andrew Bingham, supported by Tracey Crouch, Dr Philip Lee, Justin Tomlinson, Heather Wheeler, Stephen Phillips, Nick de Bois, Simon Hart, Pauline Latham, Caroline Nokes, Chris Heaton-Harris and Craig Whittaker, presented a Bill to introduce a requirement that a functioning carbon monoxide detector must be installed in all newly built and all rented residential properties; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 September, and to be printed (Bill 26).

Under-occupancy Penalty (Exemptions) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Yvonne Fovargue, supported by Paul Blomfield, Nic Dakin, Steve Rotheram, Sheila Gilmore, Dan Jarvis, Jenny Chapman, Mrs Mary Glindon, Graham Jones, Rosie Cooper, John Healey and Mike Kane, presented a Bill to exempt social housing tenants who claim Disability Living Allowance or who have occupied a property for at least six months or who have not been offered alternative accommodation from the size criteria provisions of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006 and the Universal Credit Regulations 2013; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 28 November, and to be printed (Bill 27).

Transparency and Accountability Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

John Hemming presented a Bill to make provision regarding arrangements for children involved in court proceedings; to make provision about the transparency, administration and accountability of courts and case conferences; to require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament annually on the number of prisoners who have exceeded their tariff and have not been released because they do not admit guilt; to extend the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s powers to obtain information; to make provision about consumer complaints in markets for public services; to amend certain sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 relating to contracts; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 17 October, and to be printed (Bill 28) with explanatory notes (Bill 28-EN).

Control of Offshore Wind Turbines Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Conor Burns, Richard Drax, Mr Tobias Ellwood, Dr Julian Lewis, Mr Robert Syms, Mr Peter Bone, Sir Greg Knight and Mr Nigel Evans, presented a Bill to restrict the height, number, location and operation of wind turbines situated off shore within twenty miles of the coast; to restrict subsidies available for such turbines; to make provision regulating the length, location and environmental impact of cables connecting such turbines to the national grid; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 January 2015, and to be printed (Bill 29).

Responsible Parking (Scotland) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Mark Lazarowicz, supported by Sheila Gilmore, Mike Crockart, Katy Clark, Dame Anne Begg and Dan Jarvis, presented a Bill to amend Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 to exclude from the reservations certain provisions relating to parking; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 September, and to be printed (Bill 30).

Health Service Commissioner for England (Complaint Handling) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Mr David Davis, supported by Mr Dominic Raab, Dr Sarah Wollaston and Alan Johnson, presented a Bill to make provision about the handling of complaints by the Health Service Commissioner for England; to require the Commissioner to notify a complainant of the reason for the delay if the investigation of the complaint is not concluded within a 12 month period; to require the Commissioner to lay before Parliament an annual report giving details of how long investigations of complaints have taken to be concluded and progress towards meeting a target of concluding investigations within a 12 month period; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 5 September, and to be printed (Bill 31).

Pavement Parking Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order N0. 57)

Martin Horwood, supported by Mr Jim Cunningham, Tracey Crouch, Kate Green, Mr Elfyn Llwyd, Caroline Lucas, Roger Williams, Lisa Nandy, Richard Fuller, Mike Thornton, Henry Smith and Greg Mulholland, presented a Bill to make provision for the safety, convenience and free movement on pavements of disabled people, older people, people accompanying young children, and other pavement users; to clarify, strengthen and simplify the law relating to parking on pavements in England and Wales; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 September, and to be printed (Bill 32).