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Point of Order

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 22 July 2021

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek guidance from you on what options are open to me. I regret that I was not able to raise this with the Leader of the House personally beforehand, because this relates to something that has happened in the course of the last hour. Unfortunately, and I hope that the Leader of the House is doing this unintentionally, he made use of an extremely offensive racist term—I find it really difficult to understand, but I am sure it may be possible that he was not aware that it was—in relation to the Liberal Democrats. It would be really helpful if he could reconsider his words. He has spoken powerfully and correctly over the last few months about the scourge of racism and his commitment to ending it. I would like to know, Mr Deputy Speaker, what guidance you can offer to Government Ministers, Front Benchers and to all of us here about how we can be more temperate with our language. This use of casual racist phrases, however unintentional, has a corrosive impact on the fight against racism, which I know the right hon. Gentleman shares as an aim.

I think that every Member needs to redouble their efforts as far as that is concerned. I do not know a single racist Member of this House, to be honest. I think the Leader of the House is indicating that he may wish to directly respond to the issue at hand.

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. If I have used a term that is offensive, I apologise profoundly. I had absolutely no intention of using any term that was offensive. I do not actually know what term I used that was offensive, so if out of ignorance I have, I apologise.

Thank you very much for that statement. May I say as well that I will pass on all the thanks to the Speaker’s Office that I have heard today during business questions? I, too, would like to add my thanks to all the staff who have worked tirelessly and beyond the call of duty during what must be the most difficult time in the 29 years that I have been a Member of Parliament, and particularly to the broadcasting team, who have been quite simply beyond amazing in ensuring that the democracy that we all cherish has not been tarnished and has been allowed to carry on during the covid pandemic. I thank each and every one of them.

I suspend the House for the sanitisation of the Dispatch Boxes.

Sitting suspended.