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Points of Order

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2023

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wish to raise a point of order on the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) in the statement. The immigration guidelines were changed in August 2023 to enable eviction within seven days as opposed to 28 days, and my hon. Friend has the letter from Clearsprings to the person she is representing that confirms a seven-day deadline. I wonder whether the Minister might wish to correct the record based on the exchange he had with my hon. Friend earlier.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. As a rule, it is not correct to continue a statement with additional questions, but he appears to raise a genuinely new question arising from the statement. If the Minister would care to answer it, I will allow him to do so. If he prefers to write to the hon. Gentleman, that is also acceptable.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Perhaps I could do both. I will write to set out our position, but from the information that has been made available to me, I suspect that the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) is mistaken. There is a twofold process: on granting an individual their asylum claim, they are notified that they have 28 days plus two days for postage to vacate their property. When they come to seven days before the end of that 28-day period, we then serve them with a notice to quit in accordance with the law. I am afraid she is mistaken.

I am grateful to the Minister for clarifying the situation and I trust that that satisfies the shadow Minister’s point of order.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care made an official visit to Charing Cross Hospital in my constituency. On arrival, he was joined by the Minister without Portfolio, the right hon. Member for Chelsea and Fulham (Greg Hands) and the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith and Chiswick. They then proceeded to use the visit for party political purposes.

A video they recorded inside the hospital concludes by saying that the hospital has

“got a really, really great future here under the Conservatives.”

That will come as a surprise to my constituents who fought for seven years to stop Conservative Governments demolishing the hospital and, earlier this year, saw it taken out of the 2030 new hospital programme, putting £1 billion of essential funding at risk.

Paragraph 8.1 of the ministerial code states:

“Official facilities paid for out of public funds should be used for Government publicity and advertising but may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political.”

Can you advise me what steps I can take to see that that flagrant breach of the ministerial code is properly investigated?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for having given me notice of his intention to raise it. I am not absolutely clear: is he saying that a Minister visited his constituency but did not give him notice?

No, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am saying that the Minister visited and used official facilities for a party political purpose.

I heard that part of what the hon. Gentleman said—[Interruption.] Order. I do not need all that talking while I am dealing with a point of order because it means I cannot hear anything. The hon. Gentleman’s main point is not that he was not notified of the visit but about the content of the visit. If it had been about notification, I could certainly have dealt with that from the Chair. The content of the visit is a matter for the ministerial code and not something I can deal with from the Chair, but I am confident that there are currently some senior Ministers on the Treasury Bench, and I trust that the hon. Gentleman’s point will be taken seriously. If it is a matter for the ministerial code but cannot be dealt with from the Treasury Bench, he ought perhaps to write to the Speaker and the matter can then be discussed in that way.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I attempted earlier during Foreign Office questions to catch the Speaker’s eye, but was unsuccessful given the number of Members who were keen to speak. On Friday, I wrote to the Foreign Secretary about a constituency case, asking him to ensure that consular assistance was provided for an imminent trial overseas. I am concerned that, given the heightened tensions in the middle east, my constituent’s case may not receive the attention that it deserves. His wife, young child and other family members are understandably very concerned about his situation. I would welcome any assistance that you can provide, Madam Deputy Speaker, in encouraging the Foreign Office, which I appreciate is under heavy pressure at the moment, to nevertheless take an urgent look at my constituent’s case and provide consular assistance.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I understand, from a compassionate point of view, why he wishes to raise that matter on the Floor of the House, but I think he knows that it is not a matter for the Chair. I understand why he wishes to have the matter raised and paid attention to immediately by Ministers, and I am confident that if he approaches the appropriate Minister in the usual way, the case will get the attention that it needs and that his constituent deserves. I hope that is helpful.