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Points of Order

Volume 601: debated on Monday 2 November 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I note that, on the Order Paper today, we have the first instance of English votes for English laws certification from you. I also note that on the notes to the Bill, it states specifically on page 60 that clauses 108 to 110 relate to Scotland, while in the certification they are said to relate to England only. May I request clarification of that apparent anomaly?

I commend the hon. Lady for the predictable application of her beady eye to these important matters, but she should rest content in my own certification decisions. In other words, if there appears to be any conflict between my certificate and what happens to appear in the explanatory notes, she should be content with the former as the definitive guide. Perhaps we can leave it there for now.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Given that Bills are to be certified at this stage in proceedings, what thought has been given to intimate to Members who may be affected by such certification when there is a difference between what is in the notes and what is in the Bill and the certification, as Members might wish to make representations to you on those matters?

Decisions on certification are what matters. I do not want to anticipate what might be seen to be, or indeed be, contrary elements. The hon. Lady is now well familiar with the geography of the Palace of Westminster. She knows exactly where the Table Office is and, to judge by her general high level of activity in this Chamber, I rather suspect that she makes frequent visits to it. She knows how to go to the Table Office, how to consult the Clerks, and how to consult me. At any rate she can be untroubled on this matter for today and, I hope, in the future. She might not always like the certification decisions, but she need not be in any doubt what they are.

Before the hon. Gentleman, in a state of uncontrollable excitement, rises to his feet to raise a further point of order, may I politely suggest to colleagues— I think the hon. Lady had in some sense anticipated this—that I say what I was going to say in any case on certification now, appertaining to today? If after that the appetite of hon. Members to raise further points of order remains, doubtless I will be the first to hear it.

I remind the House that I have certified some provisions of the Housing and Planning Bill under Standing Order No. 83J in relation to England, and some in relation to England and Wales. I further remind the House that this does not affect proceedings in the debate on Second Reading, or indeed in Committee or on Report. After Report stage, I will consider the Bill again for certification and, if required, the Legislative Grand Committee will be asked to consent to certified provisions. I hope that is clear.

Your clarification was helpful, Mr Speaker, but not pertinent to my point. Will you clarify the extent to which possible Barnett consequential effects are taken into account in the certification process, such as those in the Bill we are about to consider, which proposes the extension of national infrastructure projects to encompass housing?

The short answer to that question is no, because it is incumbent on me to make decisions on certification without explanation. That might seem not readily obvious to new entrants to the House, and I do not mean that discourteously, but it is very much in conformity with the usual practice of what is expected of the Speaker. If I may try to be helpful to the hon. Gentleman, the analogy is with the decision on an urgent question. The Speaker makes a decision on urgent questions that is not then subject to debate or a requirement to explain it in the Chamber. The decision is made, it is communicated and that, for the Chamber, is the end of it. I hope that is helpful—but, whether it is or not, that is what I have to say.