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Points of Order

Volume 642: debated on Wednesday 6 June 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder if you could give me some advice. I do not think the Department for Transport has given the Prime Minister good advice. The statement of principles referred to—[Interruption.]

Order. This matter and the right hon. Lady deserve to be heard. Although I invited her to raise her point of order, I feel that the House is not able fully to savour it in the present atmosphere. When colleagues have successfully beetled out of the Chamber—preferably without noise—we might be able to proceed with our business and to accord her the courteous reception she deserves.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Can you give me some advice? I think the Department for Transport has misinformed the Prime Minister about the statement of principles she referred to. Paragraph 2.1.6 states that Heathrow

“reserves its rights (including but not limited to its rights to pursue any and all legal and equitable remedies (including cost recovery) available to it under law) in the event of…an alternative scheme being preferred by the Secretary of State or Government…and/or the withdrawal of the Government’s support for aviation expansion for Heathrow Airport”.

How can I correct this with No. 10?

Let me say a number of things to the right hon. Lady. First, I think that she has found her own salvation, because in raising her point of order she has aired her very specific and detailed concern about the alleged inaccuracy of what has been said, and what she has said by way of contradiction of those statements is now on the record and will, as she knows, be published in the Official Report tomorrow. It is also imaginable—I put it no more strongly—that the right hon. Lady might wish to communicate what she has said, and supply copies of the Official Report, to her constituents or to media outlets in her constituency, which is a perfectly legitimate and proper thing for her to do.

Secondly, I say to the right hon. Lady that this is not a matter for the Chair. Thirdly, I say to her that there are many mechanisms available to her to pursue the matter further. I believe that there is to be a debate in Westminster Hall on the relevant subject tomorrow; there will be business questions tomorrow; and, of course, matters that are judged to be urgent can be heard tomorrow. So I think that there is a long way to go, and I have a sense—knowing the right hon. Lady as well as I do—that we will be hearing from her regularly on this important subject in the period that lies ahead.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced in a written statement that the personal independent assessment contracts of current assessors would be extended. Given that two thirds of assessments are overturned on appeal, and given the general public concern about personal independence payments as a whole, is there any advice that you can give to ensure that future announcements of this kind can be properly scrutinised by the House by means of an oral statement?

The question of whether either a change of policy or a controversial confirmation of existing policy warrants a written or an oral statement is first and foremost a matter for the Government; it is not a matter for the Chair. If, however, a matter is not treated in the form of an oral statement and a colleague, or maybe more than one colleague, reckons that to be unsatisfactory and thinks that the matter should be aired in the Chamber, there are means by which to increase the prospect of that happening. I think that the record over the years shows that I have not been shy in granting such opportunities.

I am not familiar with the full details of this matter, although I understand the thrust of what the hon. Lady has said, but it seems to me that—rather as with the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening)—there is still a considerable distance to travel, and there are plenty of opportunities for the hon. Lady to try to secure ministerial attention to the subject in the Chamber.