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Points of Order

Volume 732: debated on Wednesday 17 May 2023

On a point of order,

Madam Deputy Speaker. Following Eurovision, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport put a news story on the Government website with a joint comment piece from the Culture Secretary and the Ukrainian Culture Minister. The piece claims that the Government have been

“proud to lead global support for Ukrainian culture, sport and arts since the invasion”

and is

“assisting the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine to share their music as they tour the UK this year.”

This last claim appears not to be correct. I have been told by the manager of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine’s tour to the UK:

“we’ve had no contact with the Government whatsoever in response to our enquiries about how best to manage the visa applications for the orchestra”.

The Government could do so much to assist the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra in upcoming tours to the UK. Tour managers for both orchestras have raised with me the heavy administrative and logistical burden of applying for UK visas from war-torn Ukraine, including the difficulties of travelling to visa application centres in Ukraine or Poland and the prohibitive costs of visas. I intend to raise these issues with the Culture Secretary, but I seek your advice, Madam Deputy Speaker, about how I can get the Government to correct the story on the website, and how to ask the Culture Secretary not to make claims of assisting the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine to tour the UK when they appear to have had no contact whatsoever.

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order and for giving me notice of it. She will appreciate that I am not responsible for Government websites, but I hope that, as the Government Whip is listening intently, what she has said will be reported back to Ministers and if any corrections can be made, they will do so. On the other issues she raised, I am confident that she will continue to pursue them. She might want to seek advice from the Table Office but she is a very experienced Member of the House, and I am sure she will continue to pursue the matter in the ways that she knows she can.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Government have continually repeated the inaccurate statement that crime has halved on their watch, as the Deputy Prime Minister did earlier. It is quite the contrary. They have wrongly excluded fraud and computer misuse from those figures, despite fraud now being the UK’s most commonly experienced crime. That does a disservice to millions of victims. Could you please advise how we might encourage the Deputy Prime Minister to correct the record?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for letting me know that she would raise a point of order. Obviously, the accuracy of information provided to the House is an important matter. I believe that her point has been raised on a number of occasions. She is lucky that the Minister who has some knowledge of this is here and has heard her. Just to reiterate, if any mistake has been made, I am sure that it will be corrected in the usual way and as soon as possible. As I said, I have a feeling that the issue has been raised before and there is some going backwards and forwards about whether those figures should be included or not. The House has heard her views and I am sure those on the Treasury Bench will feed back her comments.

Bill Presented

Renters (Reform) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Michael Gove, supported by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Mel Stride, Secretary Lucy Frazer, and Rachel Maclean, presented a Bill to make provision changing the law about rented homes, including provision abolishing fixed term assured tenancies and assured shorthold tenancies; imposing obligations on landlords and others in relation to rented homes and temporary and supported accommodation; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 308) with explanatory notes (Bill 308—EN).