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Points of Order

Volume 617: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As exchanges this afternoon have underscored, the national health service, and the facts about it, are crucial for all our constituents. In yesterday’s debate, the shadow Health Minister, the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders), to whom I have given notice of this point of order, declared: “Our”—that is, the Labour party’s—

“manifesto was very clear that we would put in £2.5 billion immediately”,

and then his addition,

“plus whatever was needed.”—[Official Report, 22 November 2016; Vol. 617, c. 859.]

In fact, the 2015 Labour party manifesto said:

“we will introduce a tax on properties worth over £2 million to help raise…£2.5 billion”.

There was no mention of “plus whatever was needed”. We all know that our constituents are looking for veracity and truth with regard to the health service. I am perfectly certain that the hon. Gentleman did not intend to mislead the public or this House, or to make this slip, but could you advise me, Sir, on how best to place on the record this corrected point so that the public can see the veracity of the argument?

The hon. Gentleman has just found his own salvation, as the puckish grin on his face suggests he realises.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker, and further to the desire of the hon. Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare) for veracity and truth, may I get your guidance on Government claims that they are spending an extra £10 billion on the national health service? I asked the UK Statistics Authority to look into this, and when it wrote to me this week it told me that an issue that has

“caused confusion is that while NHS England spending is rising, some other elements of the Department of Health budget are decreasing.”

The authority continues that it

“will be asking that HM Treasury investigate whether in future they can present estimates for NHS England and total health spending separately.”

Given this guidance, and given that there is not one extra penny piece announced by the Chancellor today for health and social care, can you, Mr Speaker, use your good offices to ensure that the Prime Minister and other Ministers desist from using this bogus claim?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. All Members, including Ministers, are responsible for the veracity of what they say in this House. The hon. Gentleman has formed his own view about this. There are a variety of methods open to him to draw attention to his views, which I know are very important, especially to him, but it is on the whole preferable that it should not be done through incessant points of order for the Chair when, whatever the merits of the case, they are in fact nothing of the kind.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the strategic defence and security review last year, it was reported that the national shipbuilding strategy and the Government’s response to it would be published by the time of the autumn statement. Sadly, the strategy and the report have not yet been published. Have you, Mr Speaker, received any indication from any Minister from the Ministry of Defence whether they will make a statement today on the industry, which is iconic and highly skilled and which affects many of my constituents?

The short answer is no. I have received no such indication. However, knowing what an assiduous and eager beaver the hon. Gentleman is, I feel sure that he will be in his place for the business question tomorrow and veritably leaping to his feet in order to request a statement or a debate on this important matter.