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Points of Order

Volume 632: debated on Monday 4 December 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. After incessant briefing for the past two days that the Prime Minister and the Government were close to a deal, it has emerged in the past few seconds that she is going to come home empty-handed, with no deal. This shambles puts into perspective the constitutional settlement for our country, so can we expect her to make a statement tomorrow?

I am bound to say to the hon. Gentleman that it had very much been my expectation that there would in any event be a statement to this House this week. Although I cannot predict this with certainty, I had anticipated and been given reason to believe that it was likely to be tomorrow. The appetite of the hon. Gentleman will be at least partly satisfied ere long, and I expect to see him in his place and springing up from it with alacrity in a desire to contribute to our proceedings.

I am saving up the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes); it would be a pity to squander him too early. I call David T. C. Davies.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The news is actually that Juncker is confident there will be a deal next week. Is it not wrong to say that the Prime Minister is coming back empty-handed when there is almost certainly going to be a deal? Is it not the Europeans who are going to be empty-handed if they do not get their hands on our £50 billion?

That underlines the importance of not jumping the gun. I understand the hon. Gentleman’s impatience, but we must not allow this to become a spat between people who want to say that all is well and those who want to say that all is ill. I simply invite the House to be a little patient: these matters will be addressed by one means or another—almost certainly by the proffering of a Government oral statement—very soon.

Order. If Members only want to repeat what others have said, but with the words they have busily rehearsed in front of the mirror, they might think it better to save them for the long winter evenings that lie ahead.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The media are reporting that a Europe Minister is at this moment briefing Conservative MPs about what has been happening in Brussels. Do you have any indication whether Members of the other parties will be given a briefing or a statement by the Brexit Department about issues such as regulatory divergence?

The right hon. Member for New Forest West chunters from a sedentary position that it has not crossed his desk either. The question of what Ministers do in respect of briefing their own Members is not known to me, but I think I can say with complete confidence that this House will be briefed about this matter and will have an opportunity fully to question the relevant Minister, be it the Prime Minister or the Brexit Secretary, on it. I hope that Members will accept that on the basis that they do not have to look into the crystal ball when they can read the book. I say this, I hope, in no spirit of immodesty. I run statements in this place more fully than used to be done in the past, and I do that because I think that the priority is for Members of the House to have the opportunity to question and challenge the Executive, even if now and again the Executive find that irritating. That does not bother me at all. I always try to put the House first, so worry not. Everyone will get a chance to be heard.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will no doubt have seen the extensive coverage that the Government secured yesterday on the front pages of various newspapers, and in a number of interviews on political programmes and on the radio with both the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Education, about the launch of the Green Paper on young people’s mental health, including an announcement of £300 million. The 50-page Green Paper has been published today, accompanied by a brief written statement. Have your good offices been made aware of any intention by the Government to make an oral statement to the House about this announcement? If not, is it in order for the Government to make announcements to the press about how they intend to address our nation’s mental health crisis and for us then not to get the chance to properly scrutinise or debate it in this House?

I understand the hon. Lady’s sense of frustration about this matter, in view of her long-standing and deep interest in the subject. Nothing disorderly has occurred. It is quite commonplace for Government to issue Green Papers, and they are not necessarily accompanied by oral statements. In this instance, a written statement has been issued. I understand that that might not satisfy the hon. Lady’s palate, if I can put it that way. Moreover, I have to make judgments, as she knows, about urgent question applications, to which she has not referred, quite properly, on the basis of overall levels of demand on other subjects and in the light of time constraints. It may be that the Government will be sufficiently moved to want to make an oral statement about their planned expansion of mental health services for young people. If, however, that proves not to be the case, or the hon. Lady has reason to suspect that it will not be the case and she wishes to return to the matter, it is open to her to try to do so by one or other means.