On a point of order, Mr Speaker, yesterday the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the right hon. Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), in response to my oral questions on the medallic recognition of nuclear test veterans, stated that I
“must not confuse commemorative coins and medallions with medals. Medals are worn on uniform; medallions and commemorative coins of the sort that other countries have issued cannot be worn.”—[Official Report, 7 November 2022; Vol. 722, c. 5.]
It is my understanding that New Zealand provided full medallic recognition in 2002 to nuclear test veterans who served in Operation Grapple and at Mururoa through the New Zealand Special Service Medal, which was established by royal warrant by Queen Elizabeth II. I am sure the Minister would not want to inadvertently mislead the House, so can you advise me how I can ensure that he clarifies his comments to the House? I might add that, if he would like to apologise to the UK nuclear test veteran community for any frustration caused, I will be meeting some of them in Parliament Square at 1.30 pm, if he would like to join us.
On a point of order, yesterday during Defence oral questions, the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) said
“why does it take BAE Systems 11 years to build a ship”,
“the Japs can build in four?”—[Official Report, 7 November 2022; Vol. 722, c. 2.]
Mr Speaker, you rightly and regularly remind us to use respectful language in this House, but unfortunately this outdated and crass racial slur falls well below the bar we should expect.
At the weekend, we saw an article in The Times asking why only two MPs identify as east or south-east Asian in this place, despite making up 1.2 million of the country. Perhaps it is because of such comments by the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford, or the “little man in China” trope trotted out last week by a Government Minister, or the former Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) saying the words “yellow peril” from the Dispatch Box. It is an unacceptable undercurrent of othering that is rightly called out for other protected characteristics and ethnicities, but not yet for ours. Mr Speaker, can you please advise me on how we can discourage all Members of the House from using ethnic slurs such as those? Progress is not inevitable; it is something we must consistently and constantly strive for.
The hon. Lady has done—excellent. I recognise, as she says, that the casual use of racial terms causes upset, and they should not be used. What I would say is that “Erskine May” states:
“Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language.”
I ask all Members to remind themselves of that principle in choosing the words they use carefully. Also, people reflect the language that we use. If we set the best of language, others might follow.
Referendums (Supermajority) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Ian Paisley presented a Bill to require a supermajority of votes in favour of a proposal for constitutional change on which a referendum is being held in order for it to be decided in the affirmative.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 20 January 2023, and to be printed (Bill 182).