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Points of Order

Volume 614: debated on Wednesday 7 September 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The BBC is reporting that “Newsnight” believes that the House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls are going to recommend that the Government no longer sell arms to Saudi Arabia. I make no bones with that; I rather agree with “Newsnight”, but the point is that it says it is doing this on the basis of having seen a draft report from the Committees. The House has always taken the leaking of draft reports from Committees to the media extremely seriously. I hope, Mr Speaker, that you will have an opportunity to speak to the Committees to establish whether that is the case, and if so, what remedial action the House can take.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. What he says about the seriousness with which leaks of copies, or draft copies, of Select Committee reports are taken is absolutely true. He is quite right about that: it is a very serious matter. I do not know whether there has been such a leak or whether there is merely speculation, but I am happy to make inquiries into the matter, and knowing the dogged and tenacious character of the hon. Gentleman, I have a feeling that if I do not get back to him, he will probably return to it. We will leave it there for now, and I am most grateful for him for the public service that he has done in mentioning it.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier today, during Cabinet Office questions, it seemed to be suggested by some hon. Members that the Boundary Commission was a gerrymandering organisation, there to act at the behest of the Government. My understanding, sir—and I would welcome your confirmation or, indeed, correction, if I am not correct—is that the commission is entirely independent, that it will come up with its own proposals, and that we, as Members of Parliament, and our constituents will then be able to respond to them through a formal consultation process. Can you confirm, Mr Speaker, that the commission does not act, or come up with proposals, at the behest of the Government?

I am very happy to confirm that the Boundary Commission operates, and has always been expected to operate, on the basis that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Bill Presented

Neighbourhood Planning Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Sajid Javid, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Greg Clark, Secretary Chris Grayling, Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Ben Gummer, presented a Bill to make provision about planning and compulsory purchase; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 61) with explanatory notes (Bill 61-EN).