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Points of Order

Volume 612: debated on Thursday 30 June 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a matter of some concern that, given the attack on the airport in Istanbul, we have heard nothing from the Foreign Secretary on what consular help might be available to affected UK citizens, what support services might be available, or even, if any UK citizens have been affected, what that means for security in the region and in the UK. I appreciate that the Government are embroiled in a leadership contest and the Opposition are involved in a leadership challenge, but the people of this country are entitled to have the business of the day continue. Can you advise me, Mr Speaker, on how I can obtain such information? I did not ask for a statement during business questions, because I do not believe that this is a matter for run-of-the-mill weekly business questions. It deserves the urgent attention of the House.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. I am not aware, as things stand, of any imminent intention on the part of a Minister to make a statement on this matter, but I have taken careful note of what she says. I rather imagine that her concern will be shared in all parts of the House. Suffice it to say that I think it not unreasonable to hope—and, perhaps, to expect—that a ministerial statement will be forthcoming early next week. If that proves not to be the case, or if there are those who seek an insurance policy in case it does not transpire, she will be aware of the instruments available to Members who wish to bring urgent matters to the attention of the House.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Today, Thursday 30 June 2016, is the final day for the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to set the fifth carbon budget. Meeting the deadline is a statutory duty under section 4 of the Climate Change Act 2008. Today the Government laid a draft statutory instrument publishing their intention to set a budget of 1,725 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, but as you will be aware, under section 8 of the Act, simply publishing the level of the budget will not suffice:

“The Secretary of State must set the carbon budget for a budgetary period by order.”

The Act also specifies that it is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Simply announcing the Government’s intended carbon budget today, therefore, is not adequate to fulfil the statutory duties placed upon the Secretary of State by the Act. The Act requires the order to be set, not just a draft order to be laid. Mr Speaker, you will be acutely aware of the importance of investors having confidence in the statutory undergirding of our country’s energy and climate change policies. Have you received any notification from the Secretary of State of her intention to come to the House to explain why she is in breach of her statutory duty and to confirm that she will take the steps, which the Clerks advise me could still be taken, necessary to set the fifth carbon budget today?

The statutory instrument will come to the House, and one rather imagines that it will do so ere long. The point made by the hon. Gentleman from the Front Bench can be ventilated very fully—possible amplified by others—in the course of that debate. It is not for me to adjudicate on whether the Government are, or are not, in breach of their statutory duty, but he has made his point with considerable force, and it was earlier communicated to me in written form, so I know that he has thought through the matter very fully. I hope that he can elicit a response from the Government through the normal diplomatic channels that exist between the two Front Benches. If, however, he remains dissatisfied, I rather imagine that he will return to the matter early next week. Clearly, it is important that progress on the issue be timely. I hope that that point has been heard on the Treasury Bench.