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Points of Order

Volume 607: debated on Thursday 24 March 2016

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Every Member is grateful for the messages we have received this week about House of Commons security, in the light of the tragedies across Europe, but could you inform us on how Back Benchers can feed back any concerns? Is there a formal process or could we invent one?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising such an important matter on the Floor of the House. I am sure he is right in saying that all Members of this House will be grateful for the new advice and procedures, which are for the protection not only of Members, but of the many people who work for them, both in this House and in our constituency offices. There are various ways in which the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members can feed back or discuss further measures or advice that might be necessary, one of which is via the Serjeant at Arms. I am also aware that the Chairman of Ways and Means has spoken in person to many Members of the House in his capacity as chairman of various committees that deal with the matter. The hon. Gentleman has very cleverly raised the matter on the Floor of the House; it is, therefore, a matter of record and I am glad that he has done so.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Following this morning’s application by the Opposition Chief Whip for by-elections in Ogmore and Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough, a Government Member shouted out, “Any more?” The comment was hugely disrespectful to our late friend and colleague, Harry Harpham, and to his family. I seek your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, as to how the situation may be addressed.

I am quite taken aback by what the hon. Lady has said. I was not in the Chamber at that point, so I have no personal knowledge of it, but if, indeed, any Member of this House made a remark like that at a time when the writ was being moved after the death of a Member of this House, they simply should not have done so. If no one else has told them that they should not have done so, I am telling them now, and I hope that that will be taken note of. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising such a sensitive matter.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Could you advise me on how I can put on the record my concern that there has been absolute silence from separatist activists about the fact that today was meant to be independence day for them? There has been no reference to that whatsoever, in terms of respecting the Scottish electorate.

I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. I was not in the Chair over the last hour, but I am aware that while Mr Speaker was in the Chair, various hon. Members made some very interesting suggestions about how today could be celebrated in future.

I have a feeling that the hon. Gentleman’s point is about to be answered by a further point of order.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am not quite sure where the hon. Gentleman was during business questions, when I specifically made reference to that. Perhaps it speaks to the fact that Members of this House, particularly Conservative Members and particularly those of the male sort, do not listen when women are speaking. How about starting from today?

I wish I could correct the hon. Lady, but her observation that it is often the case that the male kind of person does not listen when the female is speaking is, indeed, correct. With persistence, we will overcome that. I assure the hon. Lady that the Chair has heard what she has said, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that the matter that he has raised has been properly listened to in this House.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I, within the rules of order, express the hope that 23 June will go down as independence day for the United Kingdom as a whole?

The right hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a matter for the Chair, and that I would not dream of encouraging him to express, or of forbidding him from expressing, that hope over and over again.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I raised a point of order on 9 February about the Government’s attitude to the Trade Union Bill and Lords amendments. That point of order got much publicity, because it led to a discussion of the Speaker’s reading habits in relation to the Socialist Worker. The Speaker on 9 February advised me to submit a written question to try to get clarity on the matter, and written question 26990 is the named day question that I submitted on 11 February. I have not had a response. Can you advise me, Madam Deputy Speaker, how I can get an answer, on behalf of 6 million workers who are trade union members, as to the Government’s attitude to the Trade Union Bill and Lords amendments?

As the hon. Gentleman is well aware, and as I am sure Mr Speaker has made clear, Mr Speaker will have given the hon. Gentleman that advice about tabling a written question because the answers to questions are not a matter for the Chair. However, the fact that a question has been submitted and, several weeks later, has not been answered is a matter that Mr Speaker would most certainly deprecate. I am quite sure that those on the Treasury Bench have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said, and that the message will go to the appropriate Department that the hon. Gentleman should have received an answer. Whether it is the answer that he would like to receive is another matter, and not one that I can address, but he ought to receive an answer. I am quite sure that if he does not receive such an answer in the near future, he will be perfectly justified in raising the matter again on the Floor of the House.