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Points of Order

Volume 629: debated on Thursday 12 October 2017

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Yesterday, during Prime Minister’s questions, the Leader of the Opposition stated:

“Gloucester City Homes has evicted one in eight of all of its tenants because of universal credit.”—[Official Report, 11 October 2017; Vol. 629, c. 324.]

That would imply that of its total of 5,200 tenants some 650 people in my constituency had been evicted because of universal credit. The actual figures, as Gloucester City Homes has confirmed, are that a total of eight tenants on universal credit have been evicted, and all eight had significant debt arrears before universal credit was introduced. This is not to deny that Gloucester City Homes has had issues with the introduction of universal credit—it has agreed a 13-point plan, which includes working more closely with Department for Work and Pensions staff for the benefit of tenants, not least in seeing a greater take-up of advance payments—but the key point is that the picture painted by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday was a very long way from the true situation. I have given him a copy of this point of order, and I hope he will agree that this clarifies the situation, both about Gloucester City Homes, a highly respected housing association, with which I work closely, and about the impact of universal credit.

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, that is not really a matter for the Chair. It is the responsibility of each Member to make things accurate when they make mistakes. Members do inadvertently make mistakes, but that has been corrected and it is certainly now on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek clarification on an issue of parliamentary protocol. On Monday, the Speaker felt the need to admonish me as I left the Chamber while the leader of the Scottish National party in this place was on his feet responding to the Prime Minister’s statement. As I understand it, Members are allowed to leave the Chamber as long as they do not break the line of sight between the Speaker’s Chair and the Member who is on their feet. As I left along the line of the Government Benches, it is difficult to see how I could have broken that rule. Therefore, I seek clarification on this, for my benefit and that of other Members who might wish to leave a crowded Chamber.

I was not in the Chair at the time and I have no idea what happened, but I am sure Mr Speaker would not get things wrong. If there was a mistake, it would have been a genuine mistake, as all these things are in the Chamber.