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Volume 706: debated on Friday 14 January 2022

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]

I beg to move, That the House sit in private.

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 163) and negatived.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Many Members will have been shocked to see the newspaper headlines this morning, not just because of the terrible revelation that there were not one but two additional parties at Downing Street in 2021, the night before the Queen sat mourning alone at her husband’s funeral—the defining image of lockdown—but because the story in one newspaper this morning appears to be a leak of the outcomes of Sue Gray’s inquiry into those parties. On Wednesday the Prime Minister promised that on the publication of the report into the Downing Street parties, he would make a statement to this House. Mr Speaker, you have previously made clear that the Government should make important policy announcements to this House first, so that we can fulfil our job representing our constituents who will, of course, want to question the Prime Minister over these findings. For an issue of such importance, what guidance can you offer to ensure that Government Ministers and officials do not leak the outcomes of the report in advance, especially if those attempts to do so look as if they are exonerating the Prime Minister before we in this House see the contents of that report?

I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving notice of her point of order. The issue she has raised is a very important one, on a matter in which the House is extremely interested. It would be entirely inappropriate and discourteous to this House for any findings of the inquiry to be released to the media before being announced to this House. I cannot be clearer on this matter: I expect the Government to announce the findings of the inquiry to this House first, and I would treat any failure to do so as a gross discourtesy to this House.