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Points of Order

Volume 662: debated on Monday 1 July 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Long-suffering rail travellers in the north of England were promised for many years that Pacer trains, described by the Transport Secretary himself as “knackered”, would be replaced by new trains by December 2018. Before the end of 2018, the deadline became December 2019. In the weekend press, news emerged that Pacer trains would not now be replaced by then, and would be in use well into 2020.

Given the billions of pounds spent on rail investment in London and the south-east and the £1 billion-worth of new Crossrail trains sitting idle in London, this latest broken promise is extremely galling to Members of Parliament and passengers throughout the north. Have you received any indication from the Department for Transport, Mr Speaker, that it intends to make a statement on why there is to be this further delay—or does it simply not believe that people in the north deserve such an explanation?

I am bound to say to the hon. Lady that I am not aware of any intention on the part of a Minister to make a statement on the matter in the Chamber. Certainly I have received no approach, to the best of my knowledge. I think that if I had been written to about it, I would know, and I don’t, so I haven’t. Let me say to the hon. Lady, however, that if she wishes to give voice further to her concern about this matter—as the indefatigable representative of Kingston upon Hull North constituents that the House knows her to be—there will be plenty of opportunities for her to do so. I have a feeling that she will be troubling the scorers on the matter for some time to come, irked and aggravated by the decision as she palpably is.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you will have noticed, the sun has actually been out over the last few days, and you will know that one of the major causes of skin cancer is exposure to the sun. You might have noticed that Glastonbury has been giving out free high-factor sunscreen to everybody at the festival. Those in the armed forces get given free sunscreen because it is a chargeable offence to suffer from sunburn, yet our police officers and the security staff who stand outside this building, often for many long hours in the blazing sun, get no free sunscreen from the Palace authorities. Can you, Mr Speaker, make sure that that is now available in your capacity as Chairman of the House of Commons Commission? If you were thinking of going to Wimbledon at any point in the next fortnight, I wonder whether you might have a word with the authorities there to make sure that people there too do not end up with burnt faces and burnt ears and that there is free high-factor, high-quality sunscreen available to all.

That is a very useful public information notice as well as a request by the hon. Gentleman. I shall always profit by his counsels; I am always grateful to him for his advice, and he speaks on this subject with a passion, knowledge and authenticity that are respected across the House. All levity aside, he makes a very serious point, and I am particularly preoccupied with the situation of the staff here. I may or may not make my way to SW19 over the next fortnight, and if I do I will bear in mind his advice, although I am not sure mine will be especially welcome. But as far as the House is concerned the hon. Gentleman makes a good point, and I would like to reflect on that. Of course people should take proper precautions to protect themselves from exposure; it is possible to enjoy the sun, but to do so safely, and that does require appropriate factor cream regularly applied, as the hon. Gentleman knows. I will come back to the hon. Gentleman on the point relating to the staff, but it will have been heard by officials, with whom I will discuss the matter.