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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 611: debated on Wednesday 18 May 2016

The House has directed the Speaker to make a statement at the beginning of each Session about the duties and responsibilities of hon. Members.

I begin by reminding Members of their duty to observe the code of conduct agreed by the House, and to behave with civility and fairness in all their dealings. The House asserts its privilege of freedom of speech. It is there to ensure that our constituents can be represented by us without fear or favour. It is an obligation upon us all to exercise that privilege responsibly. It is enjoyed by Members of Parliament only in their work in this House: as private individuals we are equal under the law with those whom we represent. In our proceedings, every Member should be heard courteously, whatever their views.

Parliament should be open to those whom it represents. We should seek to explain its work to those who elect us, and make them welcome here. The security of this building and those who work and visit here depends upon all of us. We have a duty to be vigilant, and to assist those whose job it is to maintain this place as a safe place to work.

In this new Session of Parliament, I will be enforcing more closely the convention of Ministers taking up to 10 minutes when delivering an oral statement to the House. The official Opposition spokesperson may make a contribution of up to five minutes, and the third party spokesperson a maximum of two minutes. For urgent questions, the Minister may speak for up to three minutes; the person asking the urgent question and the official spokesperson, where different, a maximum of two minutes each; and the third party spokesperson a maximum of one minute. Members wishing to take part in statements, urgent questions and business questions must be in the Chamber, in accordance with very long-established convention, before they begin, and colleagues should not expect to be called to ask a question if they are not in their place as the statement, the urgent question or business questions begins.

Before moving to the first business of the new Parliament, I would like to express my very best wishes for the 2016-17 Session to all hon. Members and all those who work here.