On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will no doubt be aware of the judgment of the Supreme Court in America on the case of Roe v. Wade at the end of last week, which put women’s reproductive rights back 50 years by removing the constitutional right to access abortion services. Given the leadership that the United States plays in the world and the fact that the right-wing American groups and media will now feel fully emboldened to campaign for the rolling back of women’s rights in the United Kingdom, have you had any indication or notification from the Government of a statement that will be made to this House about the human rights of women in the United States, in the United Kingdom and, indeed, around the world, and, if not, how can we put it on the record that we are very concerned about what has happened in the United States?
I thank the right hon. Lady for her point of order. I have not received any notification that the Government are intending to make a statement on this, and I do not believe that the Speaker’s Office has either. However, I am sure the Treasury Bench will have heard her comment. Obviously, she has also put on record her concern about this issue.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I apologise: there are three parts to this.
On 23 May, I raised a point of order about the failure of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to respond to my correspondence on behalf of my constituent, Mr Brian Price of Treorchy, since I first wrote to the Government on 25 November 2020—not 2021. Eight letters, one parliamentary question and a point of order later, and a month after that, guess what? Still no reply. What can I do?
Likewise, I wrote to the Foreign Secretary making a formal subject access request to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on 8 March of this year. I was told that I would get a formal response within a calendar month. On 20 April, the FCDO wrote to give a new date to respond—20 June. Guess what, Madam Deputy Speaker? Last week, I received this reply:
“We cannot at this stage give you a definitive date of when we will be able to issue our reply.”
But the law requires answers to subject access requests within a calendar month. What can I do?
So far, this month, we have had 42 passport cases in my constituency—and that is just this month—and 16 new passport cases today. My constituents ring and ring and ring, but they get no answer. When my staff ring on their behalf, they often get an answer on the phone, but, again, there is no substantive answer at the end of all of that. What can I do?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for giving notice of it. Obviously, it is extremely important that Members receive timely answers to their questions. I notice that he referred to the FCDO. The Foreign Secretary is in her place, so I am sure that she will have heard his point and will perhaps make some inquiries as to whether the answer might be forthcoming.
In a more general way, I am sure the Whip is writing down as we speak the fact that the hon. Gentleman has raised this point of order about receiving answers to questions. In addition, the hon. Gentleman may like to approach the Procedure Committee, which I understand keeps statistics on the problems that may arise with the answering of questions and publishes a report on them. That may be another route he could take. He knows very well that he could also raise the matter at business questions. I understand his frustration and I reiterate, as I know Mr Speaker would want me to, that it is important that Members get answers to their questions.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, on Thursday 23 June the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Redditch (Rachel Maclean) claimed that,
“the Government has legislated to prevent fire and rehire”.
To my knowledge, the Government have not voted to pass any legislation to prevent fire and rehire since the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) last year. Can the Chair direct me on how I can best go about correcting the record?
Again, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving notice of his point of order. Of course it is not for the Chair to fact-check comments made by Members or Ministers, but if the Minister feels there has been any inaccuracy, there are ways for the record to be corrected. The hon. Gentleman has put his point on the record, and I am sure that that will be fed back from the Treasury Bench.
House of Lords (Elected Senate) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Paul Maynard, supported by John Stevenson, presented a Bill to replace the House of Lords with an elected senate; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 9 September, and to be printed (Bill 119).