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Points of Order

Volume 709: debated on Thursday 24 February 2022

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am pleased that the Prime Minister is due to make a statement to the House as 5 pm, but I was surprised that he made a television statement to the nation at 12 noon today. On the basis that we are a parliamentary democracy and that statements should, of course, be made first to this House, as Mr Speaker has made clear on a number of occasions, I wonder whether you have been given any indication of why it was not possible for the Prime Minister to do that today and whether, in fact, it is possible for a Minister to make two statements to the House, if necessary, as I understand there are meetings later today with NATO and the G7.

I have not received any information as to whether any statements will be made before the statement at 5 o’clock. These are exceptional circumstances. We all woke up this morning and saw what is happening. I think we are all devastated, as we have heard, and feel for the people of Ukraine.

If there are to be any additional statements, I am certain the House will be informed in the usual way. The right hon. Lady is right that Mr Speaker has made it absolutely clear that he prefers and wants statements to be made to Parliament first, rather than elsewhere. The next debate is on our relationship with Russia and China, and it will give Members and, of course, the Minister an opportunity to make their views known.

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. To clarify it for the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), what the Prime Minister did was set out a statement of intent without setting out any new measures, which he said would be set out to the House of Commons. It seems, in fact, that all the usual proprieties have been recognised.

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Could you clarify that it is changes in Government policy that are required to be announced to the House of Commons first? That does not muzzle the Government from making any statement about any matter, however serious, if there is no change of policy. I have read the Prime Minister’s statement, and I see no change of policy.

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister actually used the word “militarily” for the first time. I think that is a very significant change of policy.

I have nothing to add to my response to Dame Diana Johnson. The important thing for us now is to get on with the next debate and to hear the Prime Minister’s statement at 5 o’clock.