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Point of Order

Volume 680: debated on Wednesday 23 September 2020

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We were informed yesterday that the Paymaster General’s calls were set to resume. Members will remember that those calls were used earlier this year, while the House was not sitting because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many Members were very concerned by the lack of opportunity for scrutiny during that period, and that concern is ongoing. I am still struggling, as I know other hon. Members are, to get a response from Ministers from many Departments, including the Treasury, and I am concerned about what the resumption of these calls implies. I am sure that Members from across the House will agree that any resumption of the calls must be in addition to existing scrutiny, rather than a substitute that allows Ministers to be required to come before the House less frequently.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I should be grateful if you would offer guidance on how best to seek assurances from the Government that they are committed to parliamentary scrutiny, and that the resumption of these calls does not herald new limitations on the mechanisms available to Members of the House to hold Governments to account.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising it. The Paymaster General, who of course is a Cabinet Office Minister and does an excellent job in keeping Members from all parties updated, and has done throughout the difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic, is resuming the calls to augment the scrutiny that, quite rightly, Ministers will be exposed to at this Dispatch Box, as we all seek to ensure that we do the right thing by all our constituents at this inevitably testing time.

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order. I am very glad that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was present to respond, and I hope that that will give her some reassurance.

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).

Bill Presented

Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Thérèse Coffey, supported by The Prime Minister, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Amanda Milling, Steve Barclay and Guy Opperman, presented a Bill to make provision relating to the up-rating of certain social security benefits.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 186) with explanatory notes (Bill 186—EN).