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Point of Order

Volume 722: debated on Monday 14 November 2022

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have given notice of it to you and to the Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting).

At the conclusion of last Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, I tried to raise a point of order to ask why the Prime Minister had not given me prior notice that he would make reference to me in the Chamber. During the few minutes that followed, you may not have heard the Member for Ilford North using what I consider to be very unparliamentary and actually quite demeaning language towards people in our society who suffer from dementia or senility. That has led to a lot of people contacting me who are very upset about this because they have loved ones they have lost to dementia.

I would be grateful, Mr Speaker, if you could just set out that this kind of language is totally unacceptable—as, indeed, is any other form of abuse of any type—that it will not be repeated in this Chamber and that you will absolutely not allow it to be repeated at any time.

Let me begin by thanking the right hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. He has raised two issues. On the first, the House’s “Rules of behaviour” document states:

“You should notify colleagues whenever... you intend to refer to them in the Chamber (other than making passing reference to what they have said on the public record)”.

I have reminded the House of that rule on numerous occasions. However, in this context, I think that the Prime Minister’s comments can be taken as a passing reference to the public record of the right hon. Gentleman when he was the leader of the Labour party. To that extent, I am not persuaded that notification in advance was required, however courteous it might have been to give it. I would always say that it is nice if we can let people know, as general good form. In any event, the right hon. Gentleman raised the point with the Prime Minister during the statement which followed Prime Minister’s Question Time, and has once again, quite rightly, been given an opportunity to put his side of the issue on the record.

The right hon. Gentleman’s second point—with which I have the greatest sympathy—concerned the comment said to have been made by the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting). I have to say that the right hon. Gentleman is correct: I did not hear the comment, which is not recorded in the Official Report, which I did check. Had I done so, I would have intervened because I consider it falls well short of the respectful language and tone that we should all demonstrate. However, I understand that the hon. Member for Ilford North has written to apologise to the right hon. Gentleman and has had an opportunity to put his point on the record.

This gives me an opportunity to remind all Members of the importance of good temper and moderation in the language that we use in this Chamber. Certainly it is not a good example to use it against each other and I think we should learn from this.

I am now going to move on, but I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order.