Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 639: debated on Wednesday 25 April 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. For the first time since the birth of devolution, the Westminster Government—[Interruption.]

Order. There is too much noise as people are leaving the Chamber, so we will pause for a moment. I would not want the gravamen of the hon. Lady’s inquiry to go unheard or inadequately heard. If people toddling out of the Chamber could do so quickly and quietly, that would be much appreciated by the hon. Lady and doubtless by others. With a bit of projection, I think we will hear her.

I greatly thank you, Mr Speaker, for your support for my point of order.

For the first time since the birth of devolution, the Westminster Government have succeeded in clawing back powers that should be held by our National Assembly. That will have major consequences for the UK’s constitution, and it is all thanks to the Labour party in Wales. Despite the profound significance of that backroom deal, it has been raised by the UK Government through written statement only. Can you advise me how best to request an oral statement in the Chamber and to whom I should direct such a request?

My interpretation of what the hon. Lady just said is, “I don’t like just having to content myself with a written statement; I want an oral. Mr Speaker, can I register my point?” The truth of the matter is, as she is very well aware, that that is precisely what she has just done to considerable effect, in the sense that it has been heard. Whether there will now be an oral statement, I do not know, but events take place and matters evolve. If in subsequent days she is not satisfied, she can always seek, if she thinks the matter warrants the urgent attention of the House, to persuade me that it does, and I will have to judge on a case-by-case basis. For today, she has done her best.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. It is actually worse than that. These issues and matters are being determined in the unelected House of Lords, yet democratically elected Members of Parliament will have no say in the outcome. Is there anything we can do to wrest back control, to ensure that it is democratically elected Members of Parliament who determine and decide these very important issues?

The short answer to the hon. Gentleman is that I think we can await the return of the Lords amendments, and then this Chamber can come to a view about those amendments. I rather imagine that it will do so, but he has very properly vented his concern, and I hope that it will have been heard on the Treasury Bench as well as it has been by me and by other hon. Members.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) just mentioned me by name, in a critical manner, for an action I apparently took as a Minister some years ago. I have no memory of the individual action, but I would like to confirm that I was given no advance notice that he was going to mention me by name. Can I have your confirmation that you would deprecate that behaviour in the Chamber?

I have just received advice on the matter, as the right hon. Gentleman was raising his point of order, and my response is as follows. First, I did not interpret what the right hon. Member for Tottenham said as being an accusation of dishonourable conduct. It was critical, but it was not an accusation of dishonourable conduct or the absence of integrity. Secondly—this is related to my first point—I think that the criticism was of the right hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) in his capacity as a Minister and the discharge of the duties that he held at that time. I do not think it was a criticism of him as a Member of the House.

In the name of the smooth running of this place, it is ordinarily desirable that Members should be as candid with each other as possible, and I would go so far as to say that it would have done no harm for the right hon. Member for Ashford to have been informed, but I am guided by procedural experts, and the Clerk is our most distinguished procedural expert. In narrow terms, was the right hon. Member for Tottenham guilty of an impropriety in that sense? No, he was not. That is, I think, the balanced and fair answer that I should give and have given to the right hon. Gentleman.

I thought that the right hon. Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) was shifting in his seat as though he was about to raise a point of order, but obviously the point of order appetite has been satisfied, at least for now, which is very reassuring. We come now to the ten-minute rule motion, for which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) has been patiently waiting.