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Volume 606: debated on Friday 4 March 2016

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

I beg to move, That the House sit in private.

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 163), and negatived.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In Treasury questions on Tuesday, in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff), the Chancellor of the Exchequer cited the recent report by the Public Accounts Committee on corporate tax as having given Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs a “clean bill of health” with regard to the tax settlement with Google. That is, in fact, wrong. I could not believe it at the time, because I could not believe that the Chancellor could have made such a mistake, but I have checked the record. In contrast to what the Chancellor said, the Committee raised a number of concerns about the settlement and said that we could not conclude whether it was a fair deal. It was a “don’t know”, rather than a clean bill of health.

I am concerned that a senior Cabinet Minister could have cited a cross-party report of a Committee of this House so wrongly. I seek your advice, Mr Speaker, on how to make sure that this sort of thing does not happen again.

Preventing recurrence is very difficult in the House of Commons, and I am not sure that the Chair, any more than anyone else, can commit to that. The hon. Lady has taken the opportunity to correct the record from her vantage point and that of the Committee which she chairs. That fact will be communicated to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is for him to decide whether, in the circumstances, he wishes to say anything on the matter. If he does, so be it. If he does not, knowing the hon. Lady as I do, I have a sense that she will use the resources available to her to draw attention to the matter.