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Points of Order

Volume 731: debated on Tuesday 18 April 2023

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero oral questions this morning, the Under-Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie) claimed that the Scottish Green party Minister Patrick Harvie had said:

“oil and gas workers in Aberdeen should simply get on their bikes and look for other jobs”.

I have confirmed with Mr Harvie that he never said that or anything like it. Through you, Madam Deputy Speaker, may I ask the Minister to urgently correct the record?

I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving me notice of her point of order. Did she notify the Minister that she intended to raise it?

Good. As she knows, Ministers are responsible for the accuracy of their statements, not the Chair. That said, if a mistake has been made, a correction should be given. However, that is a judgment for the Minister to make, rather than the Chair, but the hon. Lady has put her view on the record and I am sure that those on the Treasury Bench will hear what she has said.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I ask for your advice. On a shameful day in 2021, the Treasury issued a sanctions waiver for Yevgeny Prigozhin to hire lawyers from England to sue Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat. In January, the Exchequer Secretary said that that was a civil service decision and nothing to do with Ministers. Civil servants then replied to my freedom of information request to say that the framework was advice to Ministers and could not be released.

Now, the Treasury has issued new guidance to me in reply to my freedom of information request. In it, on six of the nine criteria, the decision should have gone to a Minister. The question is, why are Ministers not revealing the original framework by which the decision was taken? What are they trying to hide? We in this House cannot ensure that our sanctions policy is good and sound unless we can see the way that sanctions waiver decisions are taken. What would you advise me to do to ensure that this House is put in full knowledge of how that disgraceful decision was taken?

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for giving notice of his point of order. I am sure he is aware that responses to FOI requests are a matter for the Government, not the Chair. Rather than saying that incorrect information has been provided, I think he is saying that not enough information has been provided about the reasons for the decision. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is very skilled in different ways of eliciting information from Ministers. He has made his point, and I hope that those on the Treasury Bench will take it back and that Ministers will have heard what he has said.

Bill Presented

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Status) No. 2 Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Dame Maria Miller, supported by Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, Chris Elmore, Steve Brine, Julie Elliott, Harriett Baldwin, Bob Blackman, Layla Moran, Taiwo Owatemi, Sir James Duddridge and Dr Lisa Cameron, presented a Bill to provide for corporate status of and for certain privileges and immunities to be accorded to the international inter-parliamentary organisation of national and sub-national legislatures of Commonwealth countries known as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and to its Secretary-General; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 June, and to be printed (Bill 292).