On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have a constituent whose father-in-law has been detained in a country where there are known human rights abuses. My constituent’s father-in-law is a British citizen with no family history in, or previous ties to, the country where he is being held. He faces imminent trial on a charge that carries the death penalty, and he is due to appear in court this week. I have been told by my constituent that his father-in-law’s lawyer believes that intervention from the British Government will make a difference in his case.
I contacted the private office of the Minister for Asia and the Middle East before the Easter weekend, stressing the urgency of my constituent’s case and requesting that she meet me. It is unacceptable that in this most urgent case, my office did not receive so much as a holding response from the Minister’s private office until yesterday afternoon. Mr Speaker, can you advise me on how to draw the Government’s attention to this incredibly serious and timely issue?
I thank the hon. Member for giving notice of her point of order. I expect Ministers to respond in a timely way when a matter is urgent, as in this case. The Member has put her point on the record, and it will have been heard by those on the Government Benches. I am sure that Ministers will now engage with the issue, and I hope it can be speedily resolved. Especially in the case of a crisis such as this, we need Ministers to react more quickly. We certainly need to get Departments to act, too.
I put on record that it is unhelpful when we write to Departments and they do not answer letters in a timely way. It is also unhelpful when, having been contacted by constituents—for example on the matter of Ukraine—Departments say, “Do not ring us directly. You need to get on to your MP,” and then the MP gets a holding letter that says, “Do not contact us. We are trying to deal with this quickly.” We need a joined-up Government that supports Members of Parliament. Come on—let us all work together.
Ministers (Tax Residency Status and Trusts) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Christine Jardine presented a Bill to require Ministers of the Crown to disclose their tax residency status and that of members of their household, and to disclose whether they and members of their household are beneficiaries of trusts held abroad; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 May, and to be printed (Bill 306).