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Points of Order

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 8 December 2021

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have informed the Prime Minister that I would be making a point of order, but I was informed by those on the Government Front Bench that he had to go. My goodness, those of us on the opposite side of the House absolutely agree that he has to go—he has to go as Prime Minister. People throughout these islands have been watching this debate today, and people feel revulsion at the stories that have emerged, in particular the video last night. What is worse is that there are now authoritative reports of not just one, not just two, but three different Downing Street parties during lockdown last Christmas, including one in the Prime Minister’s flat. What do we on this side of the House have to do to make sure that the Prime Minister takes responsibility for his breach of trust and the breach of covid regulations and that he does the right thing on behalf of all the people of these islands and resigns, and resigns now?

Order. [Interruption.] I think I make that decision. [Interruption.] No, I know you are not, and it is not to me, obviously.

This is a very tense moment for the House and I want to try to calm it down. We cannot continue a debate after it has already gone on, but what I would say is that I am not aware of any media attention and it is not for me to rule on something that happens in Downing Street. I also say to the right hon. Member that he has got his point on the record and we can leave it at that.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Committee on Standards has issued its fourth report of this Session, making a number of proposals and recommendations, some of which are open for consultation. As one of the longer-standing MP members of the Committee, I have been approached by some colleagues in the House, cross party, seeking guidance. It has become apparent to me that many colleagues are unaware of the existing practices and processes of the Committee and the code, let alone understand the proposed changes.

The Committee is keen to ensure full consultation and its Chair and team are doing a good job in encouraging Members to take part. With that in mind, I have checked “Erskine May”, spoken to senior colleagues and asked whether it would be appropriate for me to offer a meeting or meetings so that colleagues across the House could take part in the consultation on the proposed recommendations, with a view to sharing my views, listening to colleagues and strongly encouraging them to participate and express their views. The consultation runs until 20 January. I understand that it is entirely in order and permitted, so can you confirm, Mr Speaker, that you would encourage colleagues across the House to take part in this important consultation process?

I would encourage all Members to take part in the consultation process that has been launched, but that is certainly not a point of order for me. The hon. Gentleman has made a point of clarification for the House.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Have you been notified by the Government of their intention to make a statement today from the Department of Health and Social Care, because if media reports are to be believed there will be a Cabinet meeting this afternoon followed by a Downing Street press conference to announce the introduction of new restrictions? Mr Speaker, you have made it clear in the past that statements should be heard here first. I want to say that, despite what the Prime Minister said at Prime Minister’s questions to the Leader of the Opposition, this party and we on the Labour Benches have always put public health before party politics, which is why we have voted with the Government time and again—do not abuse that trust in the way that the public trust has been abused. We will always put public health first, but we expect that announcement to be made here.

First, I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving me notice of his point of order. I can confirm that I have had no request from the Government to make a statement. Of course, I am open to that, as soon as the Government come forward and say that they wish to make a statement. I say to the Government, as I have repeatedly said—and I will continue to repeat it—that it must be made here so that Back Benchers, whether Government or Opposition, can hear it in this Chamber. This Chamber is where statements are made. Otherwise it goes against the ministerial code. I do not want to fall out with the Prime Minister, but this is not a good way of getting Christmas cards sent between us, because I find it very offensive. There is plenty of time for the Government to come forward and say that they wish to make a statement here. What I do not want is statements to be made outside. I want respect for this House. I expect the Government to make sure that they respect their own Back Benchers, because I do even if he does not. So this is a chance for all to make sure that this House hears it first. I hope that, with my voice, they will be able to hear that in Downing Street, because I will make sure that they do hear it. So please let us not take this House for granted, and I stand firmly behind all Members of this House in saying that it must be heard here first.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 3 November, I raised the tragic case of my constituent’s mother who sadly died by suicide, and the Prime Minister agreed to meet me. Mr Speaker, how best can I get that meeting? Essentially, the Prime Minister is now refusing to meet me.

I will write to the Prime Minister to remind him that he promised to have a meeting with you. I will pass on those remarks, and I am sure that those on the Government Front Bench will have heard them. When people make statements that they will meet, they should honour that. All Members of this House count. All Members matter.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is further to the point of order raised by the shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting). Successive Ministers have promised that vaccine passports will not be introduced without the prior approval of this House, yet it is reported today that they are going to do exactly that. What can you do, Mr Speaker, to protect the position of this House and to ensure that Ministers keep the promises they have made to it?

I do not want to continue debate on a point we have already had an answer to. What I would say is that I expect—and I know—that your voice will be heard, and it is certainly on the record.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek clarity on a point of procedure. Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition invoked Her Majesty the Queen in the political exchange, and I thought there was guidance—

Order. No, I am not even going to enter into that. If you look at yesterday’s proceedings, you will find that someone from the other side did the same. It was in passing and not part of the debate.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Further to the points made about the need for the Government to come to the House if they have anything to announce today, would you exceptionally permit the use of the urgent question procedure if a statement were not offered, so that we could put down an urgent question this afternoon for answer today?

I would be very willing to look, if it is at all feasible, to see whether we could use a UQ, if there is a way around the rules, because I would be more than willing to accept one if the Government were not willing to come forward with a statement. I totally agree that a statement would be beneficial. As I say, I am sure Downing Street would not let the Members of this House down.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Your advice has been very valuable today; I wonder whether you could extend it to this. I feel that there were some inconsistencies in the reply to my Question 6 in Prime Minister’s questions. Could you please advise me of next steps in managing the matter?

Unfortunately, I am not responsible for the answers—it is as simple as that—and I certainly do not want to be.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Following on from that, with reports swirling in the last few minutes or half hour, would you accommodate and encourage a statement from the Prime Minister on just how many parties they have had in Government buildings, and when, during the covid restrictions?

We are not going to extend the debate, and you have been here long enough to know that I am not going to be tempted by that.

If there are no further points of order, we come to the ten-minute rule Bill.