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Points of Order

Volume 620: debated on Wednesday 25 January 2017

I think that the hon. Gentleman should be preserved; we should build up a sense of anticipation for him. I will take a point of order first from the hon. Lady.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. At 2 o’clock last Friday, just 58 minutes before the House rose, and on the day the world was watching the inauguration across the pond, the wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beasties of the Department for Work and Pensions sneaked out their consultation response regarding the medieval rape clause and the pernicious two-child policy. The response included a number of concessions, but not nearly enough to give women and families comfort. I seek your clarification on whether at any point last week a DWP Minister indicated to you or your office their intention to make a statement to the House on this hugely important matter, or should right hon. and hon. Members be left to conclude that the Government hoped that this abhorrent news would be caught up in the avalanche of appalling policies emanating from the White House?

The short answer is no. However, I genuinely wish to thank the hon. Lady for her courtesy in giving me notice of her intended point of order. I am aware, as other Members will be, that she has a long-standing interest in this sensitive issue. That said, I must tell the hon. Lady and the House that I have received no notice from Ministers of any intention to make a statement to the House on this subject. That, of course, is a judgment for them, rather than for me. However, I am sure that her words will have been heard on the Treasury Bench, not least by a senior Whip, upon whom I trust we can rely to convey her sentiments to those who need to be aware of them. We will leave it there for now. Having built up a due sense of anticipation, let us now hear the point of order from Mr Ian Paisley.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you for preserving me. During Prime Minister’s questions, the Leader of the Opposition said that a police officer was shot dead in Belfast at the weekend. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Belfast North (Mr Dodds) has clarified, thankfully that is not the case—thank God. But for the family and for police officers generally, could we have that corrected by a Front Bencher urgently so that the record of this House does not contain the spurious suggestion that a police officer was murdered in Belfast?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. He will appreciate that in matters of this kind I benefit from advice, and the advice that I have just received, and that I accept—it is my responsibility whether or not to accept it—is that there is no need for any further correction. It was an error. I recognise how upsetting that will have been, but it was a mistake. It has subsequently been corrected, and the hon. Gentleman himself has now quite properly used the opportunity of a point of order to correct it. I do not think that anything further needs to be said. The hon. Gentleman is a wily character and he has found his salvation.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware that Members from across the House have the opportunity to sign the book of commitment for Holocaust Memorial Day. I am pleased that more than 200 right hon. and hon. Members have signed the book, but that does mean that more than 400 have not. May I, through your good offices, draw to the House’s attention the fact that the book is available for signature at the bottom of the Members’ Staircase between 2 pm and 4 pm?

That is a very helpful notice to colleagues. No disrespect to the hon. Gentleman, because that is very helpful for others, but my office had already planned for me to sign the book when I leave the Chair today, and I certainly shall, as I always do. I think that it would be a wonderful thing if a very large number of colleagues—preferably all colleagues—took the opportunity to sign the book, as the hon. Gentleman helpfully suggests.