Skip to main content


Volume 618: debated on Friday 16 December 2016

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. During Wednesday’s Opposition day debate on the impact of the Government’s autumn statement on women, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury disparaged and undermined the work of the House of Commons Library. I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you agree with me that the Library is the very heart of our Parliament. It is non-political and non-biased, and it presents research for us all to use. In the same debate, he went on to discredit the research of the Women’s Budget Group—an independent network of economists and academics.

Although I recognise that all research methodologies should be open to robust scrutiny and discussion, there is a pattern emerging in the Library’s gender impact analyses of successive Budgets and autumn statements. The Treasury appears to undermine the Library’s work by calling into question its integrity and objecting to its analysis, yet the Treasury has continually refused to carry out its own gender impact analysis of its economic policies, as is prescribed in the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Speaker, will you advise me please on how best to proceed with this matter to ensure that the Chief Secretary retracts his statement, makes an effort to engage with the Library to discuss and understand its methodologies, or apologises to the Library and the Women’s Budget Group for undermining their sterling research?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order, but I fear that she invests me with powers I do not possess. Every Member is responsible for the veracity or otherwise of what he or she says. If any Member feels that he or she has made an incorrect statement in the House, it is open to that Member to correct it, and it should, indeed, be corrected. Where there are matters of debate and argument, I do not think that it is appropriate for me to intrude.

Suffice it to say that I think the hon. Lady has found her salvation and, no doubt, done what she thinks is right by the fine employees of the Library by raising this point of order, which is now on the record and which, I trust, will be seen by the very Library staff whom, if I may say so without excessive pun, she has just championed.

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

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