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House of Commons Hansard
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03 July 2018
Volume 644

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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I just want to ensure that the record of the House is correct in relation to last week’s debate on the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill. During that debate, I referred to an incident, as reported in column 840 of Hansard:

“Many people will remember what happened a couple of years ago when a huge tailback occurred at Dover. Apparently, it was triggered by two French police officers based in Dover not turning up for their shift, and that led to a 15-mile tailback.”

I was subsequently intervened on a couple of times by the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones), who, in his second intervention, said:

“The causes were very clear… The right hon. Gentleman”—

that is, me—

“is just plain wrong.”—[Official Report, 26 June 2018; Vol. 643, c. 840-842.]

I went back to the port of Dover to confirm that the incident that I referred to was indeed caused by an absence of French police officers, or a small number of French police officers being present. The hon. Gentleman may have suggested, perhaps inadvertently, that I was “plain wrong” in describing that incident, but the port of Dover has confirmed that I was plain right in the way that I described it.

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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of this matter. He has put his views very clearly on the record. Of course, if the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones) feels that he has been inaccurate, it is open to him to correct the record. I suspect that there may be a difference of opinion—Members often do have different points of view—but, as I say, the right hon. Gentleman has put his views on the record.

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Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I obviously would not in any way wish to mislead the House or correct a Member inaccurately, so I went back and checked the press report. The headline at the time was, “MyFerryLink workers walked out on Monday over the sale of the company’s ferries”, resulting in the strike closing the port of Calais. The right hon. Gentleman’s belief in the efficacy of the French police is magnificent, but it was quite clear what the press thought the cause of the problem was, and that was also agreed on by the British and French Governments. So can we perhaps just say that this exchange has indeed corrected the record all round?

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As I suspected, there is a difference of opinion here. No doubt, these discussions will continue, but I think that both the right hon. Gentlemen and the hon. Gentleman have put their points of view on the record, so the best thing for us to do—

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Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

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I do not think there is anything more to be said on this matter at this stage, and I would now like to move on.