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Points of Order

Volume 720: debated on Thursday 20 October 2022

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Leader of the House just called into question my behaviour when I raised the very serious allegations of bullying and manhandling that I witnessed in the voting Lobby last night. That is not appropriate. Can you assure me that there will be a proper and full investigation into this serious matter, and do you agree that that was an inappropriate response?

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I thank the hon. Lady for allowing me to confirm my views on this matter. We do ourselves a disservice in this place if we do not report wrongdoing and follow it up in the proper way. I did not see any, but there may well have been, and she may have seen things that I did not. In that case—

This is really important. In that case, we should report these issues, tell people what we have seen and support victims to come forward. We should not go on the airwaves and make unsubstantiated and, in some cases—not the hon. Lady’s—factually incorrect allegations. That does not help to raise standards in this place. Mr Speaker has got this absolutely right. I refer the hon. Lady to the statements he has made. If any member of my party has behaved in an improper way, I will condemn that as the Leader of the House, but what we need are facts, and the whole conduct of this House would be helped if people stuck to the facts.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. When Members enter this privileged place, we are obliged to abide by the code of conduct that exists for all of us, which I believe to be sacrosanct. Last night, at least one photograph appeared in the national media purporting to show an alleged incident at the entrance to the No Lobby. May I seek your counsel in two areas? First, how might we collectively raise the bar of personal conduct in this place so that photographs are not taken for disingenuous purposes and for political gain? Secondly, how might we best identify those responsible, so that this poor behaviour can be brought to account?

Mr Speaker and the entire Deputy Speaker team deprecate any taking of photographs, whether in the voting Lobby, the Chamber or certain other areas. Mr Speaker has made it absolutely clear, but let me emphasise it again: do not take photographs in areas where they are forbidden. The hon. Gentleman has made a good point, and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to behave better as role models to those outside looking in.

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bracknell (James Sunderland) for telling me that he was going to raise this matter. I want to be absolutely clear that I took a photograph, and I did so knowing that I was breaking the rules of the House—the etiquette of the House, certainly. I did so because I believed that the example being set, when we are trying to change the culture of bullying in Parliament, was such that it was necessary to override the normal course of action. I apologise to the House for doing so. However, it is very important to understand that if 12 Members were to stand around a member of staff in that way, they would probably end up being suspended from the House for a long period for bullying. We have only just started taking bullying seriously in this Parliament.

I am not questioning what you just said, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I gently suggest that there is a good argument that one of the rules we have had for a very long time—that there is no photography and no filming in the Lobby or adjacent areas—is now out of date, and it might actually help us to stop some of the bullying—[Interruption.] I am only suggesting it gently, but it might stop some of the behaviour. Some of the behaviour changed in this House when the Chamber began to be filmed.

The hon. Member has made two points. One was an apology, which the House has heard. The second was about rule changes. That is not for the Chair; that is for the House, and there is a procedure to do that. The hon. Member has made his views known, and he will know how to progress that. It is then up to the House to decide whether it wishes there to be a rule change.

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Irrespective of the issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (James Sunderland), there were photographers outside Parliament using expensive equipment to take photos of Members of Parliament, which is a breach of the security of this Parliament. I hope that Mr Speaker and colleagues will take action to prevent that from happening in the future.

I am not aware of that, but the hon. Member has made it apparent. I will pass him the name of the person he should talk to and give his evidence to. Now let us, on this momentous day in British politics, move on—[Interruption.] Another momentous day in British politics!