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Point of Order

Volume 619: debated on Wednesday 11 January 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Attorney General is making a speech today—indeed, he might already have made it—that will apparently pave the way for more military drone strikes against jihadis. This looks like, smells like and walks like a policy announcement. You, Mr Speaker, will be aware of the concerns that have been expressed in the House about the use of drones, about the lack of parliamentary scrutiny of their use and terms of engagement and about the risk—acknowledged by the Attorney General—of civilian casualties associated with their deployment. Given the controversial nature of drones, do you agree that any step change in their use—in other words, a policy shift—should be raised and debated in this House, not trailed in a speech?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving me notice of his intention to raise this point of order. I certainly share his view that significant policy announcements by the Government should first be made in this House rather than outside it. I am not familiar with the contents of the Attorney General’s speech today, and I am not in a position to pronounce on whether it amounts to such an announcement of policy change. That said, the right hon. Gentleman has made his concern clear, and it will no doubt have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench. He can be sure that it will be conveyed to the relevant Ministers. The fairest thing I can say is: let us await events. I might add that as the right hon. Gentleman is a former Deputy Leader of the House, he will be well aware of—and personally closely familiar with—the instruments available for Back-Bench scrutiny of the Executive in this place.