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Points of Order

Volume 698: debated on Wednesday 7 July 2021

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 23 June, my colleague my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley (Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson) asked the Prime Minister whether article 6 of the Act of Union (Ireland) 1800 had been impliedly repealed when the Northern Ireland protocol was approved by the House of Commons. The Prime Minister answered emphatically no.

Last Thursday, the High Court, responding to a case made by the Government’s lawyers, said that the Northern Ireland protocol was not in conflict with the 1800 Act because article 6, which guaranteed equal trade across the United Kingdom, had been impliedly repealed when the withdrawal Act was passed through the House of Commons. Mr Justice Colton agreed that indeed article 6 had been overridden by the passing of the withdrawal Acts here in the House of Commons.

Here is the point, Mr Speaker: the Government’s case was approved, presented and argued before the Prime Minister gave the answer to my right hon. Friend in the House of Commons. That answer therefore must have been misleading to the House.

Inadvertently misleading to the House. I would like to know whether the Prime Minister can be called to apologise for inadvertently misleading the House. What steps does he intend to take to undo the damage that the change to the Act of Union has caused constitutionally and economically to Northern Ireland?

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for giving me notice of this point of order. He raises the issue of legal interpretation, which is not a matter for the Chair. He will know, too, that the Speaker is not responsible for Ministers’ answers. The Prime Minister and the Minister will have heard the right hon. Gentleman’s comments. If the Prime Minister believes his answer requires a correction, there are processes by which one can make that happen, although he may take a different view from the right hon. Member about the facts of the case. In any event, the right hon. Member has put his point on the record, and I am sure he will find other ways of pursuing it. I do not think this is the end of the matter for now, but it is just for this moment.

I am now suspending the House for three minutes in order for the necessary arrangements to be made for the next business.

Sitting suspended.

On resuming—

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have received a number of representations from those seeking to find work on sites such as LinkedIn about not being able to see even a minimum salary that would be available to them were they to secure the position. The Employment Bill is obviously the right piece of legislation to raise these issues with Ministers, but as yet there appears to be no sign of it appearing. I wonder whether you have heard any evidence as to when it might emerge.

As the hon. Gentleman can probably guess, I have not been made aware of that. It is on the record, and I am sure the Government have picked up on that point. Hopefully they will be in touch.

Bill Presented

Israel Arms Trade (Prohibition)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Richard Burgon, supported by Caroline Lucas, Liz Saville Roberts and Tommy Sheppard, presented a Bill to prohibit the sale of arms to Israel and the purchase of arms from Israel; to make associated provision about an inquiry in relation to Israel into the end use of arms sold from the UK or authorised for sale by the UK Government; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 10 September, and to be printed (Bill 144).