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Points of Order

Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 18 April 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it in order for the Secretary of State, while refusing to answer the challenge of a televised debate, to use the opportunity of a statement to make the most extraordinary claims? Perhaps the biggest was that he was unaware of Labour’s position on this matter. We have made it abundantly clear that the way we should have proceeded was for UN inspectors to establish beyond doubt who was responsible and challenge the international community, including the Russians, to take multilateral action against the perpetrator, who is presumably Mr Assad.

What I would say to the right hon. Lady off the top of my head is that unawareness, whether real or proclaimed, is not disorderly. Proceedings have been orderly. Some people may feel better informed, others may not, but the right hon. Lady, who has considerable experience, both of this place and of pleading her case in the courts, has made her own point with her own eloquence in her own way, and it is on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Sunday 2 April and again on Sunday 9 April the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott claimed that my father, when Member of Parliament for North Antrim, had his phone tapped by the security services, contrary to the Wilson doctrine. This infringed the rights and liberties of all 650 Members of the House and, more importantly, the rights and liberties of our constituents. What steps can be taken to verify Lord Prescott’s claims and to hold to account those who failed to inform the Speaker at that time about the breaking of the Wilson doctrine? What course is now open to Parliament to uncover the truth in this affair?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman both for his point of order and for his characteristic courtesy in giving me notice of his intention to raise it. If he believes that the privileges of the House have been infringed, the proper course of action is for him to write to me, setting out the facts of the matter.

There is a specific reason for my exhortation to write in this particular circumstance. He is essentially raising a matter of privilege. Traditionally, in such circumstances the Chair always advises a Member to write to the Speaker. If the hon. Gentleman does so, I will make a decision on whether this should be pursued as a matter of privilege. We will leave it there for now. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.