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Points of Order

Volume 717: debated on Tuesday 5 July 2022

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has said repeatedly that there is an investigation ongoing. He has absolutely no means of knowing that, because the ICGS process is entirely confidential, and indeed it is important that it is kept confidential. Even the fact that there is an investigation is confidential. I hope that you can confirm that, Mr Speaker, because it is so important to the victims, in particular.

I can concur that that is correct. It is on the record and it is there for others to note when we have further debates so that they take it into account.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Once again, it returns to the question of not getting answers. I would be very grateful for your guidance on how we as Members can secure satisfactory answers. On two occasions now, I have tabled written questions relating to the Department of Health’s links with the Beijing Genomics Institute, following its failure to answer properly a question tabled by my predecessor as shadow Asia Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock). My first question, tabled on 13 January, was ignored until the House rose for Prorogation on 28 April. I subsequently tabled a follow-up on 18 May, and to date I have only received a holding response. These are vitally important questions relating to our national security and this is not good enough. Will you please advise, Mr Speaker, on how the Government should answer these questions?

I thank the hon. Member for giving me notice of the point of order. Of course, I am hoping that Ministers will have heard it. It is certainly on the record. The hon. Member might also consider raising it with the Procedure Committee, which monitors the performance of Government in answering questions. I say quite clearly to the Government that they have a duty to answer all Members of Parliament, whichever side of the House they come from. They should be diligent in making sure that questions are answered as promptly as possible.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am concerned that the House may have been misled inadvertently, at least by omission. The Paymaster General asserted that the Prime Minister did not recall that he had been advised by a civil servant about the previous issues regarding the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Christopher Pincher) because he forgot, but my understanding is that meetings with civil servants are a matter of record, and his private office would have investigated that. So how do we get redress, because surely it was investigated? What was in that record and who told who about it?

I am not going to continue the debate; we have got through it. The hon. Member has certainly put his point on the record, and, knowing him, I do not think he will leave it at that; I am sure he will tickle out further answers we go on.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could you give guidance to the House? The Opposition are apparently very cross with the Government at the moment. Is there any reason why the Opposition cannot move a vote of no confidence in the Government?

You know the answer; that is why you asked the question. I do not think it was just about one side. You were there, and you put up a good defence, but I think you are a lone batter today.