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Points of Order

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 17 March 2022

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Earlier this morning, a Minister was asked to come to the House to answer an urgent question tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow South (Stewart Malcolm McDonald) about the consolidation and closure of Department for Work and Pensions offices.

I stood to ask the Minister a question because we had seen a published list of closures and consolidations. Nowhere on that list was West Dunbartonshire mentioned. I was thankful for that because such office closures would be a dreadful imposition on my community and those who work for the Department in my constituency. Nevertheless, a publication has now come out via The Mirror, which highlights Glasgow, Radnor House, Clydebank. With all due respect to the Minister and the Department for Work and Pensions, Clydebank has never been, is not, and will never be—with all due respect to that great city—part of Glasgow.

I want the Minister to come here and tell me why the Department has failed to inform me, as a Member whose constituency this is impacting. Why have I not received an email that we were all told we would receive at 1 o’clock? May I have clarity from you, Madam Deputy Speaker, about how I go about that? Alternatively, will the Minister come and give an explanation?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. As he will know, it is incumbent on Members, including Ministers, to correct the record if they provide incorrect information to the House. It is also important that, if Ministers are informing Members and others about events in constituencies, they inform everybody who is relevant. I am confident that the hon. Gentleman’s point will have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench, who will feed back what he has said. If a correction is required, or further information should be sent to the hon. Gentleman, I am confident that that will be forthcoming.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Members representing port constituencies, not least in northern England, will be shocked at the news being reported about DP World, which owns P&O Ferries, suspending services this morning, sacking 800 P&O workers immediately by pre-recorded video message, and replacing them with agency staff.

I understand from the RMT union that those agency staff, mainly from overseas, are in buses on the quayside, while members of a security firm, hired by DP World and wearing balaclavas, are taking British crew off these ships. This is shameful and goes against all norms of fair and reasonable behaviour. It is clear that foreign ratings will be employed on terms less favourable than those applying to current UK seafarers. This is about a race to the bottom on terms and conditions, reminiscent of the worst Thatcherite policies.

Of course, the UK seafarers being removed from those ships battled through the pandemic to keep P&O afloat, and the company received taxpayers’ support. This action will also have a major economic impact on places such as the Humber. Further to the comments of Mr Speaker in Transport questions earlier, will you, Madam Deputy Speaker, please indicate whether the Secretary of State for Transport, who at this very moment is tweeting his concern about what is going on with P&O, will come to the House this afternoon to make an emergency statement about the actions of P&O?

I thank the right hon. Lady for her point of order, and I completely understand the deep concern that she has expressed. We have had an indication that there will be a statement at 5 pm on this extremely important issue because the Secretary of State wishes to inform the House about the latest position, and I am sure she will be here then. I hope that that is helpful.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you have had any notice from the Department for Education—and, if you have not, what Members could do about it—regarding a statement on the treatment of Tony Sewell. He was commissioned by the Government to produce a report, which he dutifully did, only to be—I put it in these terms without exaggeration—persecuted by his old university, Nottingham. As several Members have said today, it is vital for the Government to make their position clear on behaviour of that kind on the part of a public body such as the University of Nottingham.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order, but we have just heard a statement on this issue, and I rather believe that he raised some of these matters then. However, I am sure that the Ministers on the Treasury Bench have heard his comments, and if there are further statements forthcoming—although, as I have said, we have just heard a statement on this issue—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, who is a long-standing Member of the House, knows that there are various ways in which he can raise issues should he wish to do so. If he does not have that information to hand, the Table Office will no doubt be pleased to advise him on the different points that can be made.