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Point of Order

Volume 584: debated on Wednesday 16 July 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. During Prime Minister’s questions, the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr Kennedy) referred to “President Juncker, who yesterday called for more European reform and warned that applicant states who want to join the European Union face a complex, difficult and drawn-out period of up to, perhaps, five years.” The right hon. Gentleman went on to say, “As we do not meet before the Scottish referendum, barring a recall, should not the Scots voters bear those words in mind?” The Prime Minister then said that he “wholeheartedly” agreed with Mr Juncker’s comments, which he said were “very important in the context of the Scottish referendum”.

Since yesterday, the BBC has been running the following report:

“Scottish independence: Jean-Claude Juncker ‘not referring to Scotland’. New European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was not referring to Scotland when he said there would be no new members of the EU in the next five years, BBC Scotland has learned…a spokeswoman confirmed that he was talking about countries outside the EU.”

I know you are not in a position, Mr Speaker, to explain why the Prime Minister or the former leader of the Liberal Democrats would falsely attribute comments to the Commission President about Scotland. However, how can both the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber and the Prime Minister correct the record, withdraw the bogus assertions and apologise in the Chamber?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman both for the fact of his point of order and for his courtesy in giving me advance notice of his intention to raise it. The hon. Gentleman will be aware, as all Members will surely be conscious, that there are means by which people can correct the record if they think that they have inadvertently erred. It is open to any Member, including the two Members to whom the hon. Gentleman has just referred, to do so. I think it would be fair to say, however, that such matters are way beyond the pay grade of the Speaker. Suffice it to say, I do not think the question of attribution was specifically in the forefront of the minds of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr Kennedy) or of the Prime Minister. I think they were probably thinking in terms of what they judged to be a read-across between Mr Juncker’s observations on the one hand and the situation appertaining to Scotland on the other. In that sense, it seems to me that it is a matter of debate, but the hon. Gentleman has made his point with his usual alacrity, and he looks satisfied to have done so. We shall leave it there.

bill presented

Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Geraint Davies, supported by Dr Julian Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, Mrs Siân C James, Jessica Morden, Chris Evans, Mr Mark Williams and Jim Shannon presented a Bill to provide that the Health and Care Professionals Council be the regulatory body for counsellors and psychotherapists; to prohibit gay to straight conversion therapy; to make consequential provision for the protection of children and adults; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 7 November, and to be printed (Bill 78).