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Points of Order

Volume 661: debated on Wednesday 5 June 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier today, the Minister for the Cabinet Office may have accidentally said, in response to a question about the UK’s carbon budgets, “We are not off track” to meeting those targets at all. The Government’s official adviser on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change, has reported that the UK is off track to meeting its fourth and fifth carbon budgets, and official statistics published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have also shown that it is off track. It is therefore a matter of established fact that the UK is off track to meeting its targets. Can you advise me, Mr Speaker, on how we can correct the record?

I think that the hon. Lady has done so very successfully, not least to her own satisfaction. The observation that she has just made will be faithfully recorded in the Official Report, which she may choose to disseminate more widely, possibly in her own constituency or beyond. I hope that she will go about her business with an additional glint in her eye and spring in her step in the knowledge that she has taken early action to put the record straight, as she sees it.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker, of which I have given notice both to you and to the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson).

Last week, on the BBC’s “Question Time” programme, the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire said that 80% of school leavers in Bearsden, in her constituency, went to university, and claimed that only 4% of school leavers in Govan did so. That has caused much consternation and offence in Govan, and it has been discussed by various organisations there, including Govan Community Council. As you would expect, Mr Speaker, I have written to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, which has advised me that the

“statistics quoted on Question Time relate to the Govan and Linthouse intermediate zone and are based on one of the indicators used for multiple deprivation…These statistics are different from the school leaver destination statistics for the following reasons…the proportion is based on the overall 17-21 population (not just school leavers)…they relate to entries into a first degree course only…the time periods are different”.

As I have said, Mr Speaker, offence and consternation have been caused. Can you advise me first on how the statistics can be corrected, secondly on how we can ensure a more respectable debate on school leaver destinations, and finally on how the House can receive an apology from the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire for causing such offence to the people of Govan?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he wished to raise this matter. I cannot say that it satisfies the criterion for a point of order, although it is not in a small minority in that respect, in terms of what purport to be points of order. Moreover, I am grateful to him for confirming that he has informed the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire of his intention to raise the matter: that is especially important in view of the charge he has levelled against her.

As I think the hon. Gentleman knows and as I have just said, that was not a point of order. I have no responsibilities for the accuracy or otherwise of what may have been said on a television programme, even one so notably august as the BBC’s “Question Time”, by a Member of this House. I did see “Question Time” last week, although I do not recall the particular use of statistics upon which the hon. Gentleman quite understandably focused his beady eye.

In response to the hon. Gentleman’s inquiry about how he could achieve redress, let me say that I think that by raising the issue he has found his own salvation, and in the process, perhaps, that of the people of Govan, with whom he may wish to communicate further on this matter. It is not for me to plunge into an internecine conflict between colleagues. All that I will say, as far as the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire is concerned, is that in the 14 years for which I have known her I have always regarded her as a person of absolutely unfailing personal courtesy. We will leave it there for now.

Bill Presented

Vehicle Emissions (Idling Penalties) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Wera Hobhouse presented a Bill to increase penalties for stationary vehicle idling offences, to grant local authorities increased powers to issue such penalties, and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 395).