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Points of Order

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 22 November 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Have you had any representations from a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make a statement to the House on the case of Matthew Hedges? Many Members will be concerned that a British citizen has been given a life sentence—possibly tortured in the process—and yet we have not had a statement from Government. Can you tell me how I can ensure that a Minister comes to the House as soon as possible to update us on that case?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The issue is very much in the public square, as he will know, and is the subject of much angst and horrified discussion among not merely parliamentarians but, I rather imagine, a very large number of people across the country who feel for Mr Hedges. I think I can predict with complete confidence that this matter will be aired in the Chamber next week, whether by the offer of a ministerial statement or by other means with which the right hon. Gentleman is closely familiar. It is unimaginable that next week will pass without this very significant humanitarian and foreign relations issue being fully discussed by Members.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Thank you for your response to the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake). It is important for the family to know over this weekend that Ministers are working as hard as they can to ensure this man’s freedom and are calling for his so-called punishment to be deferred and for him to be sent back to the United Kingdom. I think of the family—I always do—over this weekend. The Department should be contacting them.

I know that Ministers will be having contact, and I think the fact of the Foreign Secretary’s contact with Mr Hedges’s wife is a matter of public record. The House will be sitting tomorrow, and as things stand, the Prime Minister will be here later today. Admittedly she is not here for that purpose, but the Chair may exercise a modicum of discretion as appropriate for brief reference to be made to this issue, although that is not the principal business. One way or the other, I rather imagine the issue will indeed be aired in the Chamber if Members want it to be before the weekend, and assuredly next week. I hope that that is helpful to colleagues.