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Point of Order

Volume 680: debated on Tuesday 22 September 2020

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Last Monday, after speculation about Merseyside being placed into a local lockdown, I contacted Ministers at the Department of Health and Social Care to ask for a briefing for me and other MPs in the region. I contacted their offices directly, by telephone and email, every day last week and had no reply or even acknowledgement.

As you will know, Mr Speaker, on Friday, news of a lockdown in large parts of the north-west was released by the Government to the media and the public. Hundreds of my constituents and, I expect, yours, were in touch over the weekend. I still had not received contact of any kind from the Department until I was offered a meeting yesterday, days after the announcement, which was frankly neither use nor ornament.

I realise that we have suspended normal practices in the House, but I had not realised that we had ended established courtesies. Could you advise how I and many other hon. and right hon. Members might get the Government to understand that MPs want to assist in communicating the importance of these vital messages to our constituents, but that, if we do not know what they are, we cannot?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he wanted to raise a point of order. He is absolutely correct that we have to engage earlier—we should not be waiting and waiting. I remind Ministers and their Departments of the responsibility to contact Members who are going to be affected. This does not help the Department, and it does not help the MP to actually represent their constituents. People in this House are elected to represent their constituents, and Ministers need to respond quickly when Members need information. Of course, it is not a point of order for me, but I hope that the Treasury Bench, and all other Departments, will have picked up on that. Members matter. MPs are elected. I expect those responses early, not at Ministers’ convenience, when the weekend’s gone and time has followed. No further comments on the point of order.

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for three minutes.

Sitting suspended

Virtual participation in proceedings concluded (Order,  4 June.)