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Points of Order

Volume 590: debated on Tuesday 6 January 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) was today released from police bail. No further action was taken, and, indeed, he was never charged with anything. Given that, unfortunately, he had to be named on the Order Paper in connection with his arrest, do you think, Mr Speaker, that today’s news should also be noted on the Order Paper?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, of which I did not have notice, but which is highly topical. What I can say to him, which I hope will be of interest to him and to the House, is that I am today writing—the letter has been drafted, and awaits signature—to the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker), requesting that the Committee look into the ancient practice whereby, in such situations, a Member’s arrest is reported to the House, to establish whether, in modern circumstances, such a practice is no longer required, or at any rate, at the very least, requires amendment. I hope that that is helpful to the hon. Gentleman and to others.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that you are aware of the concerns that I have raised with Ministers in the House about the current situation at G4S-run Altcourse prison in my constituency, which I have pursued in written parliamentary questions. Last night I was advised, in a written response from the prisons Minister, that G4S had been instructed to complete a “strategic plan” for Altcourse in the light of a recent murder in the prison. The plan has now been completed, and has been submitted to the National Offender Management Service. However, the Ministry of Justice is refusing to share the document with me.

Can you advise me, Mr Speaker, how I can possibly monitor what is going on in the jail in regard to the improvements that need to be made—and respond to my constituents’ very real concerns—while I am being denied access to information that should be shared with me, as the local Member of Parliament, before I meet officials at the jail?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. My simple advice to him is to use the opportunities open to him to air the matter. For example, although I can make no offer today and give no guarantee of immediate success, it is open to him, if he wants to joust on the matter with a Minister, to seek an Adjournment debate. It would be a highly pertinent topic for such a debate. He might want to reflect on that.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I hope this is a point of order. We discussed the Magna Carta this morning. Surely the House should take the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta seriously. How much opportunity will we have to discuss the Magna Carta and the need for a new Magna Carta, and to celebrate something that has been the basis of so many democracies throughout the world?

I can advise the hon. Gentleman that much is planned, but if I were to respond in detail to his point of order I would unfairly and unduly delay the right hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan), who has been waiting patiently to move his ten-minute rule motion. What I can say is that a great deal will happen, there will be opportunities on the Floor of the House and, knowing the legendary indefatigability of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), I feel sure that he will take his chance to be part of the process.