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Points of Order

Volume 656: debated on Thursday 21 March 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your advice. The Government are supposed to be tackling violence with a public health approach, so I was astonished when my question to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care asking what progress his Department has made on the implementation of a public health approach to tackling violence was transferred to the Home Office for a written response. My question was genuinely meant for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, as I am keen to know whether he endorses a public health approach and what action his Department is taking. The public health approach can be successful only if it is genuinely adopted across the whole of Government.

The hon. Lady has done me the great courtesy of telling me in advance that she wished to raise that matter on a point of order. The short answer, but it is not the only answer, is that it is for Government to decide the Minister and Department answering a question—that is to say, the matter of transfer from one Department to another is within the exclusive cognisance of Ministers. That said, if it is the clear and explicit wish of the hon. Lady to explore the issue from the vantage point that she has described, I think it would be helpful if the Department of Health and Social Care respected that.

The hon. Lady may find that a direct approach to a Health Minister—a private chat over a cup of tea or on the telephone—would help. If that does not avail her, or if she prefers another approach, I suggest that she goes to the Table Office to explore the options, where the brilliant and dedicated staff will seek to help her. She will not be surprised to know that this is not an unprecedented situation—there have been many such examples over the years—but if she follows my usual advice, which is to persist, I think she will find a way through the thicket.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Over two weeks ago at Prime Minister’s questions, the Prime Minister said that she would be hosting an emergency summit in Downing Street on knife crime “in the coming days”. As far as I am aware, no invitations have gone out and no summit has been held. Have you been given any indication of a statement to the House about the Prime Minister’s intention to hold such a summit on the urgent and crucial issue of tackling knife crime?

I have received no indication that a Minister plans to make a statement on the matter. I note what the hon. Lady says about a past prime ministerial commitment. To be fair, the Prime Minister has many matters on which to focus at the moment, and I cannot say whether the organisation of this event is in train or not. I note that the hon. Lady is indefatigable and remorseless in pursuit of this subject, which is absolutely right and proper, and she will have opportunities to air the issue in the Chamber in the days to come, especially if she is dissatisfied that the event that she anticipated has not yet been arranged.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder whether you have been approached about the security arrangements for Members of Parliament—something I know you take very seriously, as does the Chairman of Ways and Means, who is in the Chamber—following the Prime Minister’s remarks last night, when she seemed to set Parliament against the people on the issues of Brexit. I have noticed a more belligerent tone in some of my communications since last night, and I am sure that other Members of Parliament are starting to experience the same issue. Given the darkening mood that has been created by what the Prime Minister said last night, is there anything else we should be doing to ensure that we take care of our own security?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I will make two points. First, if he has concerns of either a personal or wider nature, it is open to him to approach the parliamentary security director, Eric Hepburn, who will be well known to colleagues; indeed, I would encourage him to do so. Secondly, wholly unrelated to any comment or statement by any Minister or other parliamentarian, I have today a long-arranged meeting with security advisers. That meeting will take place very shortly, and if it is a service to the hon. Gentleman, I will relay the concern that he has expressed and some of the concerns that other Members from across the House have articulated about this matter. If there is a further or better particular that I have to share with the House, I will say so. Otherwise, if he wishes to approach me again next week to seek details of the substance and outcome of my meeting, I will be very happy, as is proper and appropriate, to brief him. I hope that that is helpful.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not know whether many people in the Chamber are aware, but I am sure you are, that at this moment the 50th Special Olympics are taking place in Abu Dhabi. Shannon McGhee and Jamie Kearns, two former pupils of Kilpatrick School in West Dunbartonshire, where my younger brother went, are part of the UK national team. Can you advise me how we can highlight to not only Shannon and Jamie but the entire team how fantastic we think their endeavours are? More importantly, how can we highlight to the state broadcaster and other broadcasters that receive public funding that their coverage of a truly elite sporting activity is woefully inadequate?

The truth of the matter, as I think the hon. Gentleman knows, is that he has achieved his objective. As an experienced parliamentarian, he has registered his point with skill, eloquence and panache.