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Points of Order

Volume 706: debated on Wednesday 12 January 2022

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I raised the issue of the supply of funding for the Afghanistan crisis being less than 25% by the end of November/beginning of December. Looking back on the record to a reply given by the Minister for the Middle East, North Africa and North America, he said the figure was £70 million, which is indeed less than 25%. I appreciate that the sum might have been increased during December, but it still falls 50% short of the funds allocated for 2021. Will you advise me and the Minister on how to set the record straight?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for the point of order, but as he knows, it is Ministers, not the Chair, who are responsible for their words in the Chamber. Those on the Government Front Bench, including the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, will have heard what he said, and I am sure that the hon. Lady will seek to correct the record if a mistake has been made.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. My constituent, a survivor of child abuse, has worked with the National Crime Agency during recent prosecutions, but she has been waiting since July for a decision on a family permit application to the EU settlement scheme. I wrote to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster), who is the Immigration Minister, on 2 November, but have not received a reply.

I have raised the matter on multiple occasions with UK Visas and Immigration, but again, replies have not been forthcoming. My constituent was told that a decision was made on 20 December, and UKVI confirmed that to me, but she has still not been told what the outcome is. It completely ruined Christmas and new year for her and her children. I have chased up the case repeatedly, but I cannot get that decision. This is torture for my constituent. Madam Deputy Speaker, can you provide guidance on what I can do, what mechanisms are available to me, to get that decision, so that this woman can have some peace in her life?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving me notice of her point of order. I am obviously disappointed, as I am sure she is, to hear that her letter and representations have not received a response. I would hope that a response would now be forthcoming speedily, especially as there are Ministers and Whips on the Front Bench who I am sure will convey that back to the Home Office.

In terms of how the hon. Lady might pursue the matter further, she may wish to discuss the issue with Clerks at the Table Office, who can offer advice. I also know that if issues of delays with Ministers are raised with the Leader of the House at business questions, he agrees to take them back to Ministers, so that might be another route that she might wish to pursue through business questions.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have informed the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland of my intention to raise this point of order. In July last year, he released a Command Paper on the troubles in Northern Ireland and the related legacy issues. In his statement to the House, he said that he would be

“introducing legislation by the end of the autumn”,—[Official Report, 14 July 2021; Vol. 699, c. 390.]

but no legislation came forward. At the last oral questions, just before Christmas, I asked him where the legislation was and he replied:

“We have not had pauses”.—[Official Report, 8 December 2021; Vol. 705, c. 366.]

This week, a Government briefing to the PoliticsHome website about that legislation said that

“a government source told PoliticsHome that they needed more time to ‘get it right’ and that the legislation might not make it onto the statute books until late spring or early summer.”

That strikes me as a clear breach of the ministerial code, which is clear in its intent. Ministers should talk about legislation and how legislation will be handled in this place by talking to this place in an oral or written statement, preferably an oral one so that we can cross-examine it at the Dispatch Box.

Can you confirm, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether you or Mr Speaker have been informed of any intentions for that legislation? If not, it is a discourtesy to Mr Speaker, to the House and certainly to all people in Northern Ireland, for whom anxiety has been provoked by talk of the legislation.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. He raises a number of issues. Decisions about when to make written or oral statements are obviously for the Government rather than the Speaker, but as he will know, Mr Speaker has repeatedly made it clear that substantial policy announcements should be made first to the House. I would expect the Government to observe that in relation to this important issue.

With regard to breaches of the ministerial code, if the hon. Gentleman wished to raise that, it would obviously be a matter for the Cabinet Office. I will ensure that Mr Speaker is aware of his point about possible changes to policy, but I hope that the Government Front-Bench team have heard that and will feed it back to the Northern Ireland Office.