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House of Commons Hansard
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10 February 2016
Volume 605

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on a matter that is of marginal interest at best to the outside world, but which would risk a number of jobs and further undermine the traditions and standards of this House. That is, of course, the matter of the change from vellum to paper for the recording of Acts of Parliament.

You will recall, Mr Speaker, that on 9 October last year you indicated to me, in answer to a point of order, that there would be a substantive vote in this House before any such matter occurred. In answer to a point of order from the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) on 9 February 2016, you indicated that you had changed your view on the matter: it would no longer be necessary for a substantive vote in this House, and that, if she wished to register her opposition, an early-day motion would be a way of doing so. That, of course, would have no effect whatever on the other place. However, if I were to call a debate under the aegis of the Backbench Business Committee, with a substantive motion which required that this retrograde decision should be reversed, can you advise me what effect that would have, both on our decision in this place and whether the other place would have any reason to listen to that decision?

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Let me say the following to the hon. Gentleman, to whom I am grateful for his point of order. First, I have not actually changed my view on the desirability of a vote in this Chamber on the matter. The hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying, as I readily acknowledged yesterday when a point of order was raised, that I had expected a vote would take place on that matter in this House. However, the matter does fall within the aegis—and, it appears, in terms of decision-making competence, the exclusive aegis—of the other place. For that reason, and on account of their desire to proceed, there is no entitlement for this House to supersede the will of the other place.

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman quite correctly judges that it would be open to him and to other Members to seek a Backbench Business Committee debate on this matter. I wish the hon. Gentleman all success, presumably in a cross-party effort, to secure such a debate. It is not for me to seek to comment on how the other place judges matters. I would not have sought to do so anyway and I have been reminded by sound professional advice that it is not for me to do so. I therefore do not think I should get into the business of speculating as to what might happen. I have known the hon. Gentleman for well over 20 years and he is, at his best, a formidable and energetic campaigner. If he feels strongly, my advice to him, together with the hon. Lady from the Labour Benches who raised the matter yesterday, is to go ahead and seek a debate, marshal his forces and to plan for victory, rather than to spend time sitting around predicting it. Perhaps we can leave it there.

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You can do it when you get to the other place.

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I think it would be tactful to ignore the undoubtedly purposeful interjection, from a sedentary position, by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner), but I heard what he said.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wish to raise a query about how we select ministerial questions in the post-English votes for English laws situation. Earlier today, we had Scottish questions. Some 45 Scottish Members submitted a question; three were chosen, which makes a success rate of 6%. Some 48 non-Scottish Members submitted a question; 12 were chosen, which makes a success rate of 25%. I appreciate that the randomness of the selection process can create these situations, but it is a matter of concern that Scottish Members had only a one-in-four chance of questioning the Scottish Secretary, as compared with other Members of the House. I ask you ever so gently, as part of the review into EVEL, to consider whether it might be appropriate, for those Departments with a specific territorial responsibility, to put in place some mechanism to allow the Members representing those areas a better chance of holding Ministers to account.

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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The short answer to the thrust of his question is that the selection is done by electronic ballot. It is done that way for questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland and for every other Question Time. I am happy to consider his request for consideration of an alternative method, but I hope he will bear in mind the likelihood that there will exist opinions other than and different from his own.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your help. Yesterday, in response to a written question, the Immigration Minister had to correct an inaccurate answer previously given to the question of how many young adults who had previously been refugees but unaccompanied minors had been forcibly removed from this country. The original answer was 1,600; the corrected answer was 3,750. Will you open an investigation into how that might have happened and press for information about the cost to the UK Exchequer, in forgone revenue, of deporting 3,750 young people in whom we had invested over many years and who were just at the prime of their lives and about to be able to contribute to our country?

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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The short answer is that he can seek a debate on the matter, he can table written parliamentary questions pursuant to the information he has already extracted, and he can raise the matter, with all the authority of his leadership office, on the Floor of the House at business questions tomorrow. I keenly expect to see him in his place and leaping to his feet with alacrity tomorrow morning.

Bills Presented

Northern Ireland (Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Theresa Villiers, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Philip Hammond, the Attorney General, Greg Hands and Mr Ben Wallace, presented a Bill to make provision about the Independent Reporting Commission, extend the period for the appointment of Northern Ireland Ministers, modify the pledge made by Northern Ireland Ministers on taking office, provide for persons becoming Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to give an undertaking, and make provision about the draft budget of the Northern Ireland Executive, in pursuance of the agreement made on 17 November 2015 called A Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 133) with explanatory notes (Bill 133-EN).

Policing and Crime Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Theresa May, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Secretary Greg Clark, the Attorney General and Mike Penning, presented a Bill to make provision for collaboration between the emergency services; to make provision about the handling of police complaints and other matters relating to police conduct and to make further provision about the Independent Police Complaints Commission; to make provision for super-complaints about policing; to make provision for the investigation of concerns about policing raised by whistle-blowers; to make provision about police discipline; to make provision about police inspection; to make provision about the powers of police civilian staff and police volunteers; to remove the powers of the police to appoint traffic wardens; to enable provision to be made to alter police ranks; to make provision about the Police Federation; to make provision in connection with the replacement of the Association of Chief Police Officers with the National Police Chiefs’ Council; to make provision about the system for bail after arrest but before charge; to make provision to enable greater use of modern technology at police stations; to make other amendments to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984; to amend the powers of the police under the Mental Health Act 1983; to extend the powers of the police in relation to maritime enforcement; to make provision about deputy police and crime commissioners; to make provision to enable changes to the names of police areas; to make provision about the regulation of firearms; to make provision about the licensing of alcohol; to make provision about the implementation and enforcement of financial sanctions; to amend the Police Act 1996 to make further provision about police collaboration; to make provision about the powers of the National Crime Agency; to make provision for requiring arrested persons to provide details of nationality; to make provision for requiring defendants in criminal proceedings to provide details of nationality and other information; to make provision to combat the sexual exploitation of children; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 134) with explanatory notes (Bill 134-EN).