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Points of Order

Volume 746: debated on Wednesday 28 February 2024

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I have informed the relevant Member of my raising this point of order. On 10 January, the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Steve Tuckwell) asked the Prime Minister an oral question about Hillingdon Hospital in his constituency. He said that

“the new Hillingdon hospital has full planning permission and full funding and enabling works are well under way.”—[Official Report, 10 January 2024; Vol. 743, c. 295.]

However, a freedom of information request has revealed that

“the total funding for the redevelopment of Hillingdon Hospital is to be confirmed”.

I further understand that the start date for the procurement of a contractor and for the construction of the hospital is yet to be confirmed. Given that the hon. Gentleman may have unintentionally misled the House on a matter of great concern to his constituents, I seek your assistance, Mr Deputy Speaker, in asking him to set the record straight on this matter.

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order and for giving me forward notice of it. She has clearly made public her views on this matter. While I am not responsible for the content of Members’ questions, I draw the matter to the attention of those on the Treasury Bench so that if a Member has unintentionally misled the House, they can be advised to correct the record as soon as possible.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I want to clarify the record because something I said in the House yesterday was not, it turns out, on further investigation, entirely accurate. I have been campaigning for some time on supermarket chains’ charging motorists in Chesterfield several pence more than they were being charged a few miles up the road. Yesterday I took the opportunity again to bring that to the attention of the House during Department for Energy Security and Net Zero questions. Since then my office has discovered that prices in Chesterfield are now the same as they are in Sheffield, or very slightly less, so I want to give credit to the supermarkets, who appear to have put in place the changes that were needed. I said that Chesterfield motorists were being overcharged, but they no longer are, which is a very happy thing, so I take this opportunity to correct the record.

I can see motorists speeding towards—well, perhaps not speeding but heading towards the hon. Member’s constituency to fill up. When someone unintentionally misleads the House, that is how to correct the record with speed. I thank the hon. Gentleman for that.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Today, reports that Thames Water has been lobbying the Government and Ofwat to let it increase bills and face lower fines come as the company seeks to avoid a potential £18 billion bail-out from the taxpayer. It seems clear that the UK’s largest water company is teetering on the brink of collapse. My constituents and all the 16 million people who depend on Thames Water across London, the Thames valley, Surrey and elsewhere will be deeply concerned about what a collapse of Thames Water could mean for them. We know that the Government have prepared a contingency plan for that event. That was confirmed to me in response to a written question that I tabled this month. However, in the same response the Government refused to make that plan public. The prospect of a multibillion-pound bail-out means that this has ceased to be a purely commercial matter, and there is now a significant public interest in the publication of the plans. May I please ask your advice, Mr Deputy Speaker, on how I might compel the Government to come to the House to provide reassurance to my constituents as soon as possible, and on what measures the House can take to ensure that the Government publish their contingency plans for the event of Thames Water’s collapse?

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order and for giving me forward notice of it. She has already done a lot of work on this, so she knows the avenues to go through, but she can always seek guidance from the Table Office on how to pursue the matter further. While it is not in the power of the Chair to compel Ministers to come here, they will have heard the point of order through those on the Treasury Bench, so I am grateful to the hon. Lady for making it.

Bill Presented

High Income Child Benefit Charge (Review and Impact Assessment) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Wendy Chamberlain presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to undertake and publish a review of the merits of raising the income threshold for the High Income Child Benefit Charge and of reforming the process for declaring income above that threshold; to require the Secretary of State to publish an assessment of the impact of the High Income Child Benefit Charge on single parents and on full-time caregivers for children; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 21 June, and to be printed (Bill 170).