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Point of Order

Volume 616: debated on Monday 24 October 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a point of order that I raise with the greatest reluctance, but it is a matter for you, and a matter of some urgency. You will recall that, in November 2015, the Conservative delegates to the Council of Europe were queried and there was a debate on the matter in this House. A report was produced about the selection of delegates. At the time, you rightly said that it was not your job to interfere with the decisions of parties on which delegates they sent to the Council of Europe. I believe that a decision that was made a few hours ago was not only improper but possibly illegal. I have sent you an email and a letter about what has happened. It might well have been a misunderstanding, and it might have been resolved, but in the meantime, can I ask you to repeat what you did in regard to the Conservative delegates, and to decline to send the delegates chosen by the Labour party to the Council of Europe until the matter has been resolved?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. He did sidle up to the Chair earlier to indicate that he had written to me about this matter, and I do not dispute that for one moment, but I have to say to him that I have not yet seen his email. It would be prudent for me to study it and to reflect carefully upon the matter and take advice before pronouncing on it. Of course I well remember the sequence of events to which he has referred. If memory serves me, it principally concerned Members from the governing party. In this instance, I think he is concerned about his own party’s delegation. I do not interfere in the choice of members of the delegation. That is not a matter for me. If memory serves me, however, I do have a responsibility to notify the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of the decision made here, and of course I would not wish to do anything that was procedurally improper. I will have to satisfy myself that what I am being asked or instructed to do is procedurally proper. I will not be sending any letter until I have so satisfied myself. I hope that that is helpful. Of course, in the pursuit of that duty, I will study the letter from the hon. Gentleman.