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Points of Order

Volume 626: debated on Thursday 29 June 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on how we might compel the Government to respond to the Cridland review on the increase in the state pension age. You will be aware that the Government are already in breach of their own Pensions Act 2014. They should have reported on 7 May and failed to do so. Given the real mess that they made of the increase in the state pension age of women—the so-called WASPI women—this needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Can you inform me of any information that you have about when the Government might be reporting on this, or offer some guidance on how we might encourage them to do so?

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order, but I am sorry that I am not able to provide her with satisfaction at this juncture. I have not been advised of any intention on the part of a Minister to make a statement on that matter. If it were imminent, I should rather expect, in the ordinary course of events and on the basis of past evidence, to have been so notified. However, the hon. Lady has drawn attention to her very real concern about this matter, of which I hope that Members on the Treasury Bench will have taken account.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not really one to talk about dress sense, Sir, but I noticed yesterday that a Member was allowed to ask a question in the Chamber without wearing a tie. I have no particular view on that, but have the rules on it changed?

The short answer to the hon. Gentleman is that this is something provided for, if memory serves, in the conventions and courtesies of the House. The traditional approach was that a Member—effectively, as was implied by the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), a male Member—would be wearing a tie—[Interruption.] There is absolutely no obligation on female Members not to wear ties if they so choose. I think the general expectation is that Members should dress in business-like attire. So far as the Chair is concerned, I must say to the hon. Gentleman, although I fear this will gravely disquiet him, that it seems to me that as long as a Member arrives in the House in what might be thought to be business-like attire, the question of whether that Member is wearing a tie is not absolutely front and centre stage. So am I minded not to call a Member simply because that Member is not wearing a tie? No. I think there has always been some discretion for the Chair to decide what is seemly and proper. Members should not behave in a way that is disrespectful of their colleagues or of the institution, but do I think it is essential that a Member wears a tie? No. Opinions on the hon. Gentleman’s choice of ties do tend to vary, and it has to be said that the same could be said of my own.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can we ensure that Standing Order 122A is implemented strictly in the House? The rule refers to chairmanships of Select Committees and states that the maximum term is eight years or two Parliaments. There is a good reason for this Standing Order, because the Committees are greatly benefited, and the House benefits, I believe, from refreshing those who take on these powerful positions. If there are to be any exceptions made, or any claims made for exceptional circumstances, will you ensure that the full Standing Order is respected, and that no changes will take place unless they are approved of through a debate in this House?

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The Standing Orders are of course our rules, and by those rules we must all abide. I am familiar with the Standing Order to which the hon. Gentleman refers. My recollection of it is that there is a limit of two Parliaments or eight years, whichever is the longer, on the period for which the Chair of the same Select Committee can serve as its Chair. I certainly intend to interpret that rule in the proper way. If a decision comes to me to make in respect of a particular case, I will make it. Subject to any advice I might receive from the Clerk of the House, I have absolutely no objection whatever to making any such statement or clarification in the Chamber. That might be helpful to the hon. Gentleman and to other Members who are interested in this matter.