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Point of Order

Volume 650: debated on Monday 26 November 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like your advice about the use of official parliamentary recordings of proceedings of this House. On Thursday, the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (John Lamont) posted a video clip of an exchange at business questions involving me and the Leader of the House. The clip was heavily edited to give a false and erroneous impression about the nature of the exchange and to draw a false conclusion—one that was not made when I made that contribution in the House. The terms and conditions on the use of recorded parliamentary material clearly say that no one can “alter” the video and audio of the recording “in any way”, and Members have to agree to that as part of the terms of use. This exchange was clearly altered, and it was altered to give a false impression of what transpired. More than 40,000 people have already seen this heavily edited clip. I have contacted the hon. Gentleman and have given him the opportunity to take it down voluntarily—an offer he has refused. How, therefore, can he be obliged and compelled to take this clip down?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving me notice of this point of order. It is important that colleagues take care not to give a misleading impression of proceedings by selective editing or unrepresentative quotation, either of video content or of Hansard. I do not, however, think the Chair can act or be expected to act as an immediate arbiter of cases brought to its attention—I refer to the Chair as a collective—to determine whether a misleading impression has or has not been created, deliberately or otherwise. I have always stressed that it is for Members to take responsibility for their actions and for what is done on their behalf. A great many right hon. and hon. Members make use of the video clipping tool to download extracts from our debates, and this helps bring our proceedings to life. I would encourage them to exercise care when they do so, although I accept—I do not know whether he does and I am not debating the point with him here and now—that some editing must be allowed if these extracts are to be of a manageable length for social media purposes. It is really not satisfactory—I am not criticising the hon. Gentleman; I understand his frustration—for these matters repeatedly to be brought to the attention of the Chair when the Chair has no power to act. Members must, if I may politely say so, treat others as they would wish themselves to be treated. We will leave it there for now.