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Points of Order

Volume 661: debated on Wednesday 12 June 2019

On a mundane but important point of order, Mr Speaker. The House of Lords Commission gave the following ruling on passes for parliamentary assistants in its last report:

“Members may not sponsor a pass for anybody whose primary role is to support an All-Party Parliamentary Group.”

That may have been to deal with some problem of misuse—I do not know; I cannot speak to that—but I am concerned about it. I see the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable), the leader of the Liberal Democrats, is in his place; some years ago, he changed the law—under some influence from me, I think—to make Members of Parliament authorised people under the whistleblowing Act. Organisations such as the all-party group on whistleblowing therefore need staff in the House. Could the House authorities make representations to the House of Lords to make sure that that is taken on board and corrected?

I think this has some relevance to security, and the Chair would not normally pronounce on such matters in the Chamber, but I want to reflect on the right hon. Gentleman’s point, because it is important and potentially has ramifications for other Members and groups. Rather than give a knee-jerk response that is insufficiently considered, I will give a considered response at a later date. I hope that will be helpful. If I may say so—and I will—“mundane” and the right hon. Gentleman simply do not go together.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In a brief answer in Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy topical questions yesterday, the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the hon. Member for Rochester and Strood (Kelly Tolhurst), who, helpfully, is on the Treasury Bench, announced that she intended to order the recall of 500,000 tumble dryers made by Whirlpool UK, an action that she described as “unprecedented”. In fact, over 5 million such machines were manufactured with a fault that makes them liable to burst into flames without warning, and they have caused several hundred fires, including one in a 19-storey block of flats in my constituency that destroyed 20 flats and could have caused serious loss of life.

This is the most serious consumer safety issue for many years, yet we have had no statement from the Government on when and how the recall will take place, and why it has taken four years for them to act. I am wondering whether you, Mr Speaker—perhaps with the assistance of the Minister—can say how these matters will be addressed in this House.

It is certainly open to a Minister to seek to respond, and it looks as though one is minded to do so.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to clarify what I announced in the House yesterday. Since the Office for Product Safety and Standards review, we have kept Whirlpool’s actions under review. A letter was issued to Whirlpool, which was given 28 days to respond, and it did just that. We have informed it of our intention to issue a recall. That is part of the regulatory process. That is what I was updating the House on. We had 10 days to inform Whirlpool of that, and I believe that Friday is the deadline for that. I hope that satisfies the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter).

It may well be the summit of the hon. Lady’s parliamentary ambition to satisfy the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter), but it may be that some years—or possibly decades, from my experience—are required before she can hope to attain that dizzy height. The hon. Gentleman does not look particularly satisfied. Nevertheless, the hon. Lady has discharged her obligations to the House, and we are grateful to her for doing so. If, as I surmise from the hon. Gentleman’s countenance, he remains dissatisfied, he knows that there are means by which he can secure fuller ministerial attention to this matter, and the House’s attention to it, in days to come.

This is indeed a matter of the highest importance, involving life and death, as the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) helpfully observes.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Welsh media today report that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will remove diplomatic support from the First Minister of Wales on his visit to Brussels today unless he toes the UK Government line, whatever that is. There is no bigger critic of the Labour Welsh Government than me, but I am outraged, as I am sure the people of Wales are, at the complete lack of respect shown to the Government of my country by the British Government. Welsh people pay taxes, too, and the FCO is supposed to serve their interests, too. Could you, Mr Speaker, advise me on how I could raise this issue as a matter of urgency with those on the Treasury Bench?

To some extent, the hon. Gentleman has achieved his own salvation by airing the matter in the Chamber. That is not a point of order as such, but I am minded to observe that, although there is a lot of repeat business in the House in the form of attempted points of order, I can recall no occasion, during my occupancy of the Chair, in which such a concern has had to be aired, so it is indeed a most significant matter. I am taken aback by what the hon. Gentleman reported to me in advance and has now raised orally on the Floor of the House. He has achieved some satisfaction by alerting those on the Treasury Bench to his concern. My advice is that he should go to the Table Office and table questions on this matter. I know that the dedicated and highly capable staff of the Table Office will be happy to assist him in that important endeavour.

Bill Presented

Non-Domestic Rating (Lists)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary James Brokenshire, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr David Lidington, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Greg Clark, Jesse Norman and Rishi Sunak, presented a Bill to make provision to change the dates on which non-domestic rating lists must be compiled; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 402) with explanatory notes (Bill 402-EN).