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House of Commons Hansard
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12 November 2018
Volume 649

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In her statement on Monday 5 November 2018, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions listed a number of organisations, including Mind and Gingerbread, that had welcomed changes to universal credit, saying that they believed the Department was now listening, but the charities were forced to set the record straight. Instead of welcoming the changes as the Secretary of State suggested, Mind has said that it needs MPs to vote against the regulations, which will create a real risk for people living with mental health issues. How can it be that the same charities that the Government claim to have listened to on the regulations are asking MPs to vote them down?

Can you advise me on how to ensure that the Secretary of State corrects her statement to accurately represent the views of the charities that she mentioned?

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I thank the hon. Member for giving me notice that she wished to raise this matter on a point of order, and I trust that she also informed the Secretary of State of her intention to do so. The hon. Lady has made her view clear and it is on the record. If the Secretary of State believes that she has inadvertently misled the House she can, and in those circumstances should, take steps to correct the record. It may be—I put it no more strongly—that she takes a different view of the matter.

Perhaps I can say, without fear of contradiction by any Member of the House, that it is not uncommon for Members to interpret the facts of a matter in different ways. I am grateful to the hon. Lady.

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you will be aware, Asia Bibi, a Christian, has been on death row for eight years after a conviction for blasphemy that was recently quashed by the High Court in Pakistan. Weekend press reports have suggested that Asia and her husband applied to the UK for asylum but were turned down because of security fears if she were to come here. If that is true, it is an astonishing admission to be given to the press, not to the House. Have you had any indication that the Home Office or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will make a statement to the House about this matter this week?

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It is open for a Minister to do so.

In response to the hon. Gentleman, I take the opportunity to observe that I am not aware that a Minister plans to come to the House to make a statement on this matter. However, I believe this matter has crossed my desk before, and Members have expressed interest in it. He will know that there are means open to him to ensure that the matter is discussed in the Chamber. I offer him no guarantee of that, but in lieu of and, if you will, as a backstop against the unwillingness to volunteer a ministerial statement—yes, I know we do not want to talk too much about backstops—it is perfectly open to him to deploy that device, and the same goes for other Members.