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Points of Order

Volume 635: debated on Monday 22 January 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Friday, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor came to my constituency and attended a meeting in Redbridge town hall. I first knew about this today, from the website of the Ilford Recorder, to which the Secretary of State has given an extensive interview talking about policing, crime, youth crime and other issues relating to my borough and my constituency. He did not have the courtesy to inform me—nor did he inform the leader of the council, Councillor Jas Athwal, or anybody else in Redbridge, except a few selected councillors—that he was coming to my constituency.

I have informed the Member today, through the answering machine in his House of Commons office, of this point of order. I tried five numbers at the Ministry of Justice, but all were unobtainable, including the public number given to me by the House of Commons Library. At least I had the courtesy to inform him that I was raising this point of order, but, Mr Speaker, I seek your advice. Given that Ministers will be quite active in coming to constituencies in the coming months, can we have it made clear that they should at least inform the Members for the constituencies that they are going to visit?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his characteristic courtesy in giving me advance notice of his intention to raise that point of order. Moreover, the House has just learned from his detailed description of the prodigious efforts he made to contact the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, even if ultimately they were to no avail. I thank him, as I say, for giving me notice of the point of order.

As I have said on many occasions, colleagues, it is a strong convention, albeit not a rule, that a Member should give reasonable notice to a Member whose constituency he or she is intending to visit in a public capacity of the fact of that prospective visit. Apart from anything else, I regard this as a matter of courtesy.

I would say on this occasion that I am surprised to learn of this development, because I know the Secretary of State. Ordinarily, he would be regarded, I think, as one of the most courteous Members of the House. I do regard this as a lapse. It is regrettable and I hope that it will not happen again. We ought to treat each other with courtesy, which means giving some advance notice, as I have said.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance as to whether you have received notification from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions that she will make an oral statement on personal independence payment. As you may be aware, late on Friday afternoon, the Government put out a written statement announcing that they would not appeal the High Court judgment of 23 December 2017 that in effect reversed the emergency PIP regulations that they introduced early last year.

As I am sure you recall, Mr Speaker, those regulations were brought in without a vote of the House as a negative statutory instrument despite two urgent questions, an emergency debate and widespread concern about their impact. I would be grateful for your guidance on how Members might have the opportunity to question Ministers in detail on this vital policy change, which will affect more than 150,000 people—primarily those with mental health conditions.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. In short, I have received no notification from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions of an intention to make a statement on that matter. As the hon. Lady will know, the Secretary of State is in her place; she is welcome to come to the Dispatch Box and respond if she wishes, but she is under no obligation to do so.

She does not wish to do so at this time. The hon. Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova) should table questions and see where she gets. If she and her colleagues judge that they wish to seek a debate on the matter, it is open to them to do so. For now, she has aired her concern and it will have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench.