On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In Prime Minister’s questions last Wednesday, the Prime Minister stated:
“I am pleased that we had a record number of new homes built in the last year”.—[Official Report, 26 October 2022; Vol. 721, c. 297.]
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities quarterly data for the most recent year shows that 174,930 homes were completed in 2021; however, a higher number of properties were built in several years between 1969 and 1990, and an even higher number were built as recently as 2019, despite the figures being far below the Government’s own target. Stating that a number is “a record” clearly implies that it is the highest number that has been achieved. Given that the number of new homes last year is neither a record nor even close to a record, will you advise me on how that can be corrected?
I thank the hon. Member for giving notice of her point of order. She will know that the Chair is not responsible for any answers that Ministers give from the Dispatch Box, but those on the Treasury Bench will have heard what she had to say and there will be plenty of opportunities for her to pursue this matter, as I am sure she will. It is a judgment for the Prime Minister as to whether he wishes to correct the record, but the hon. Member has an opportunity at PMQs tomorrow, if she can catch the Speaker’s eye.
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Last week, I was called to give evidence to the Serjeant at Arms on the events that allegedly occurred outside the entrance to the No Lobby on 19 October. For the record, during these alleged events, I was at the opposite end of the No Lobby as a Teller. We saw colleagues, some of whom I had pastoral responsibility for as their Whip, harangued and harassed by Members of the Opposition, and subsequently by their local opposition and the media. That abuse stemmed from a photograph which should never have been taken and which the Chair of the Committee on Standards then attempted to justify to this House with a misleading impression. I seek your advice, Mr Deputy Speaker, on what actions are available to Members of this House who feel aggrieved by these events and are worried about inflammatory language and actions, particularly from those whose own behaviour we can reasonably expect to be beyond reproach.
Further to that point of order,
Mr Deputy Speaker. Following the widespread publication of photographs on social media and in other parts of the media, I wonder whether we could have some clarification for the House on the use of photography in and around the voting Lobbies.
Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), who has been notified that I will be mentioning him in the Chamber, claimed in a point of order on 19 October:
“I saw Members being physically manhandled into another Lobby and being bullied.”—[Official Report, 19 October 2022; Vol. 720, c. 804.]
Later, on the BBC, he claimed that he saw signs of “clear bullying”. Let us leave aside the fact that the first instinct of most people, if they saw signs of clear bullying, would be to help the perceived victim rather than to take photographs for social media. May I ask your advice on this, Mr Deputy Speaker? In light of the findings of the Speaker’s report earlier today, would it be in order for the hon. Member to come to the Chamber and correct the record as he has clearly misstated what happened?
The hon. Member has informed the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) that he was mentioning him, and I do not think that he was named by either the hon. Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) or the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Brendan Clarke-Smith). All I can say is that the Speaker has had an investigation and has issued a statement today, which he did at the beginning of the proceedings. I understand that the photograph has been taken down and an apology made.
It has been made absolutely clear by the Speaker that no photographs should be taken in areas where no authorisation has been given. That matter has now been dealt with comprehensively and we should now—[Interruption.] The Chair does not have the responsibility to bring Members to this Chamber, but I am certain that the hon. Member has been informed, as has been said. I know that he is detained elsewhere, otherwise I am sure that he would be have been in the Chamber. It is up to him whether he makes that public apology.
Healthy Start Scheme (Take-Up) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Kate Green, supported by Sir Stephen Timms, Ms Karen Buck, Clive Efford, Paul Maynard, Mary Kelly Foy, Tim Loughton, Daisy Cooper, Jim Shannon, Ruth Cadbury, Sir Peter Bottomley and Kate Osborne, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to ensure that families eligible for the Healthy Start Scheme are registered to receive it; to confer certain powers on Government Departments and agencies and public bodies for that purpose; to provide for an opt-out where the family wishes; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the first time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 March 2023, and to be printed (Bill 178).