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Point of Order

Volume 606: debated on Thursday 3 March 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance as to whether I need to ask a Minister to correct the record and, if so, how I go about it. Yesterday, I attended the Committee on the draft Renewables Obligation Closure Etc. (Amendment) Order 2016, with which I am sure you are familiar. I spoke in the Committee, mentioning thousands of job losses in the solar industry. In her response, the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, the hon. Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom) said that I was making inaccurate comments and that the losses were not as I had described. I wanted to check that, so I have gone back and seen that the Government’s own impact assessment says that “between 9,700 and 18,700” jobs will be lost in the solar industry as a result of cuts to feed-in tariffs. The Solar Trade Association said in December that it knows of 1,800 redundancies since the general election and of three companies that have folded. To me, that seems as though I have my facts correct, yet I was rebuked for issuing incorrect information. I wonder how I can go about setting the record straight.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order, of which I did not have advance notice. I make no complaint about that, but I am therefore simply issuing a response off the cuff. She complains that she was “rebuked” for her observation, although she is satisfied, from her inquiries, that her observation was correct. I can say, for the completeness of the record, that she was not rebuked by or from the Chair; she was simply rebuked by an opponent in debate. The matter seems to me to be substantially one of debate and argument; she will say she is right and the Minister may well claim likewise.

When the hon. Lady asks me how she should proceed with this matter, my advice would be that she should go to the Table Office to table a question on the matter and see where that gets her with the Minister. Everybody in this place is responsible for the veracity of what is said in the Chamber or in Committees. It is incumbent upon a Member to correct the record if he or she has misled the House, but it is not for me to arbitrate on whether or not that has happened, especially as I was not present at the time. The hon. Lady is notably assiduous, and I feel sure that she will use the device that I have suggested to try to secure satisfaction. If she does not get that, we will no doubt hear from her again.