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Point of Order

Volume 688: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2021

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On 10 December, when responding to my question on a recent Information Commissioner’s Office report into political parties’ data collection, the Minister for Media and Data, the right hon. Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale), claimed that, when the Conservative party collected the personal data of more than 10 million people based on their race and religion,

“the Information Commissioner…did not find that any breaches of the law had occurred.”—[Official Report, 10 December 2020; Vol. 685, c. 978.]

He repeated a version of that claim when appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. However, the Information Commissioner appeared before that Committee yesterday and confirmed to me that the Conservative party had acted illegally—indeed, she had required the party to delete the data that it had illegally collected.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be mortified to learn that he has inadvertently misled the House on this important matter. I wonder, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether he could be afforded the opportunity to withdraw his false claim and commit that the Conservative party will not conduct illegal racial and religious profiling in the future.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for notice of his point of order and for confirming to me that he has also given notice of his intention to raise this matter to the Minister concerned, the right hon. Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale).

I can answer the hon. Gentleman in this way. In general terms, I can certainly confirm that, in the event that the answer that a Minister has given here in the Chamber transpires to be, for some reason, inaccurate, that Minister should, of course, correct the record at the earliest opportunity. But the hon. Gentleman and the House will appreciate that it is not, of course, for the Chair to adjudicate on whether that general injunction applies in any particular instance; I cannot confirm whether or not it applies in this instance.

However, I am quite certain that, if the right hon. Member for Maldon has inadvertently said something in the House that has transpired to be inaccurate, he will take the opportunity to correct the record as soon as possible. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this matter.

To allow the Chamber to be prepared for the next item of business, I will now suspend the House for three minutes.

Sitting suspended.