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Point of Order

Volume 594: debated on Tuesday 24 March 2015

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you clarify the process that exists for a situation in which the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) refuses to apologise to the Minister for Employment, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey) for quoting someone who referred to her by saying, “Lynch the bastard”. If the hon. Gentleman did not agree with remarks made by others that were in effect inciting violence against a female MP, why on earth did he repeat them to another audience? I had hoped that he would apologise before this House dissolves, but no apology has been forthcoming.

This has been raised before, Madam Deputy Speaker, and it was accepted by the House that I would in no way ever encourage violence or support violence against an hon. Member— [Interruption.]

I therefore have nothing to apologise for. If a constituent shouts something out to an MP, that is a matter for the constituent. This is about the right hon. Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey) trying to make herself into a victim over this issue. The real victims are people such as David Clapson who starved to death as a result of—

Order. If the hon. Gentleman is responding to a point of order, I must insist that he sticks only to that point of order. Has he finished his response to this point of order? He may do so.

I was simply putting it in the context of the suffering that has been caused by the right hon. Member for Wirral West—

Order. I have said to the hon. Gentleman that he must limit his remarks to the substance of the point of order. I am allowing him to do so and giving him plenty of opportunity to respond. We do not need the background information—just his response.

The substance of the matter is that there is nothing to apologise for, and I hope that on 7 May the electorate will remove the stain of inhumanity—

Order. It is not a matter for me to discuss the electorate on 7 May. It is disappointing that a matter such as this should have to come before the House. I thank the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mary Macleod) and the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) for giving notice of their intention to be here today to raise this point. Let me repeat what the Deputy Speaker said when the matter was raised in November—that what hon. Members say outside this place is not a matter for the Chair.

I would, however, strongly clarify—the hon. Lady asked for clarification—that it is incumbent on all Members of this House, either within the Chamber or elsewhere, to act with courtesy to one another and, indeed, to everyone else whom they might encounter. I understand the hon. Lady’s particular concerns about reported comments suggesting violence—whether they were seriously intentioned or not. I am quite certain, and I am sure the whole House will agree, that no hon. Member would wish to be associated with such comments. I urge hon. Members concerned in this matter to consider that apology is not backing down; it is a courteous way of settling a matter. One would hope that hon. Members of this House would wish always to act with such courtesy.