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Points of Order

Volume 624: debated on Thursday 20 April 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much for indulging the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire. During the urgent question, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow South (Stewart Malcolm McDonald) intimated that I represent my home town, the great borough of Clydebank. I am sure you will be very well aware, Mr Speaker, that I not only represent my great home town, the borough of Clydebank, but the ancient borough of Dunbarton and of course the mighty Vale of Leven. I am delighted to say that I will be standing for re-selection and, hopefully, re-election as the Member of Parliament for the greatest constituency in this House, West Dunbartonshire.

Lest any of us were unaware of the sheer extent of the hon. Gentleman’s reach, whether physical or metaphorical, such concerns have been comprehensively allayed by his—I use this term non-pejoratively—opportunistic attempt to raise a bogus point of order. We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

Breaking with all convention, I think this actually is a point of order, Mr Speaker. The crux of my question to the Leader of the House concerned Government announcements and purdah. I have no idea whether there will be an announcement on which jobcentres they intend to close. Could you advise me, Mr Speaker? Is there anything to stop the Government making that announcement between now and the dissolution of Parliament?

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday to the House, in which she stated that

“leaving the election to 2020 would mean that we would be coming to the most sensitive and critical part of the negotiations in the run-up to a general election. That would be in nobody’s interests.”—[Official Report, 19 April 2017; Vol. 624, c. 685.]

If we had stuck to the fixed term for this Parliament, the general election would have been in 2020. The negotiations, therefore, would not have been in the run-up to the election. They would have finished. Does the Prime Minister need to explain to the House that her plans for negotiating our exit from the European Union will go beyond those two years, as promised to the House?

I think there is a degree of linguistic licence available to, and sometimes deployed by, Members in all parts of the House, including those who sit on the Treasury Bench and on the Opposition Front Bench. If the Prime Minister felt the need to clarify her remarks she could do so, but I have no sense that she feels any such need. I hope the hon. Lady will understand if I say that I do not think this is a matter into which it would be proper for me to intrude. It is substantially a matter of interpretation and debate. The hon. Lady, with some skill, has used her opportunity to flag her concern and it is on the record. I know how persistent a terrier she is, so if she is dissatisfied doubtless she will pursue the matter.