On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am known to be a long-term champion of equality for women in our society and at work. During Question Time, only a few moments ago, I referred to the Minister for Employment, the right hon. Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey), as “hard-hearted Hannah”, which I think she thinks was a sexist remark. It was not meant as a sexist remark; it is actually the name of a famous song sung by Ella Fitzgerald. The Minister has a reputation for being a very hard champion of the welfare reforms that this Government have introduced, so I believe that it was a fair comment to make and that it was unfair to call me a sexist. [Interruption.]
Order. All I need say is twofold. First, the hon. Gentleman has put his point on the record. Secondly, the way I would prefer to characterise it—I am not arguing with the hon. Gentleman—is that the Minister of State is an extremely robust character who can make her own case with force and skill, as she has done on several occasions today, and indeed at all times. If the Minister, who felt aggressed against and to an extent aggrieved, wishes to speak briefly on the matter, I would of course give her that opportunity.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The reason I want this put on the record is that it is not the first time Opposition Members have been like this to me. John McDonnell came to my constituency and asked people—I know this is unparliamentary language—to “lynch the bitch” live in Wirral West. That is what Labour Members ask people to do in other people’s constituencies. The Opposition have form. [Interruption.]
Order. My role is to seek to defuse this. There are strongly held views on both sides. I asked the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) to raise his point of order and he did, and I thought it right that the Minister of State should have a right of reply and she has had it. I understand there are strong feelings. Let us try to preserve the courtesies as best we can in the days and weeks ahead. In all sincerity, I thank—and I mean that—both Members for having made their contribution. We will leave it there.
Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill [Lords] (Programme) (No. 2)
That the Order of 2 February 2015 (Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill [Lords] (Programme)) be varied as follows:
(1) Paragraphs (4) and (5) of the Order shall be omitted.
(2) Proceedings on Consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion, at today’s sitting, two hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order.
(3) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion, at today’s sitting, three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order.—(Anna Soubry.)