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Points of Order

Volume 731: debated on Wednesday 19 April 2023

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I seek your help? What can be done to force Ministers to honour commitments made to this House at the Dispatch Box?

On 24 March, during my Adjournment debate about covid-19 vaccine victims, the vaccines Minister—the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), to whom I have given notice of this point of order—promised to come to an early meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on covid-19 vaccine damage. Despite exhaustive efforts, it has proved impossible to obtain any date from the Minister. We have offered any time, any place, but we cannot get any offer back from her or her Department.

Today I attended the inquest for one vaccine victim, Dr Stephen Wright, whose widow and mother heard the coroner confirm that Stephen’s death at the age of 32 was caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine. We heard earlier from the Paymaster General that the Government are very keen to hear the voices of victims. As it has now been more than six months since I have been trying to get Health Ministers to meet vaccine victims, the Paymaster General’s words do not ring very true.

This is just not good enough. We owe victims such as Dr Stephen Wright and his widow and children something more than the Government are currently giving. The Government owe them respect, which they are not currently receiving.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. As he will know, it is not a matter for the Chair, but Mr Speaker does expect Ministers to keep commitments made in the Chamber. I know that the Ministers present—and the health Whip, who is also present—will take back the hon. Gentleman’s point, and I hope that that will lead to some progress for him.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You and Mr Speaker were kind enough to let me raise this matter.

If any of us had done 39 years in the House—and, in fact, a few of our colleagues have—a lot of people would be standing up and saying, “What a fantastic job you have done”, but for someone who has served the House for 39 years there is almost no recognition, and I want to put that right today.

Stuart Shearer Lancashire—I only know him as Stuart, because he is one of the chefs who smiles at everyone—has served us in this House, since before I came here, in every form of catering establishment. On the last day of last month, he retired after 39 years’ service. I pay tribute to him—and to his colleagues, who often do not receive the recognition that they deserve—not only for being a fantastic chef and a gentleman, with a smile on his face nearly every morning when we went for breakfast, but for the charitable work that he has done over the years. Some of us grow silly moustaches every year for “Movember”, but he excelled at it. He also dressed as an elf when I impersonated Father Christmas at the children’s Christmas party. That was a sight to behold, because he is a formidable gentleman who makes my tummy look very small! He will not mind my saying that. The sight of him in tights was one that I will never forget, and it is sad that he has retired. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that point of order. The reception given to his tribute by Members in all parts of the House showed how much Stuart has been appreciated during his 39 years here, and I think that everyone here appreciated what the right hon. Gentleman said. I hope that Stuart heard it, and I am sure that he and his family will have been pleased to hear of the deep affection in which he has been held throughout that time and the respect that we have for the service that he has given to the House.

Bill Presented

Burglary (Police Response) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Ed Davey presented a Bill to set minimum standards for the police in relation to the investigation of domestic burglaries, including a requirement that a police officer should attend any domestic premises where a burglary has been reported; to place a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure that police forces comply with the minimum standards; to require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on compliance with the minimum standards; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 November, and to be printed (Bill 299).