Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 604: debated on Thursday 14 January 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the House has twice now said that the student finance measure, which started consideration in Committee at 11.30 this morning, will automatically be voted on by the whole House, as it will end up appearing on the Remaining Orders of the Day, but that is not the case. I say gently to him that he does not understand the rules. The simple situation is that, because the measure is going through the negative process, unless there is a motion formally tabled and carried in this House that says it shall not pass into law by 23 January—the motion must be tabled by him, by Government, or, theoretically, by us on an Opposition day—it cannot come to pass. He should not inadvertently mislead us by suggesting that this will happen automatically. If he is saying that he will table such a motion and allow for a debate, we would be very grateful, but he should not inadvertently mislead the House.

I am sure that the shadow Leader of the House is not making a speech to, or at, the Leader of the House. What he is really doing is asking for my guidance, which I am happy to provide. If that guidance happens to coincide with his own interpretation of matters, I dare say that he will dance around the mulberry bush in exultant celebration. Let me tell him and the House what the position is. I understand that the regulations are indeed being debated in Committee as we speak as a result of a reference moved by Ministers in response to a prayer—that is a motion against the regulations. I am sure that the House is with me so far. That is a perfectly commonplace, almost prosaic, procedure. It is open to Ministers to bring forward the prayer for decision in the House without further debate, or it can be brought forward by the Opposition on an Opposition day for determination by the House. That is the situation.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I am grateful for that guidance. May I seek a little bit more? I was not sure whether you heard the Deputy Leader of the House say, “Yes, that is what’s going to happen,” because that is not what, thus far, the Government have said—

That they will bring forward a motion, so that there is a vote. It does not happen automatically. As I understand it, the Government have to decide to do it. If the Leader or Deputy Leader of the House would nod to indicate that that is what they are going to do—

Look, the hon. Gentleman is an extremely important Member of this House, and no one is more keenly conscious of that fact than he, but it is not for him to seek to persuade, cajole or exhort people to nod. If the Leader or Deputy Leader of the House wishes to give the House a clear indication now of the Government’s intentions in respect of this matter, specifically the centrality or otherwise of the Chamber to its resolution, either of them is perfectly free to do so, but neither of them is under any obligation. It is a case of speak now or, if not forever hold your peace, for the time being do so.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not going to announce the business of the House, because the Leader of the House has already done that, but any Member can go and participate in that debate now. It is then for the Government to decide whether to bring the matter forward, as you have already pointed out in your guidance, Mr Speaker.

I think we will leave it there for now. Right hon. and hon. Members will make their own assessment, and I thank the Deputy Leader of the House for what she has said.