On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I previously pointed out to the Leader of the House in business questions that both the Liberal Democrats and Labour have been fined for their conduct in the 2015 election. I drew attention to the fact that the Tories were also under investigation and that the Electoral Commission has expressed concerns that the capped fine limit means that fines are no longer a suitable deterrent. Basically, the Leader of the House was almost dismissive with a “how dare he raise that” response, and he stated that
“for Members of the Scottish National party to give lectures about good practice during election campaigning is a bit rich.”—[Official Report, 19 January 2017; Vol. 619, c. 1088.]
That implied that the SNP was possibly implicated as well. Now that the Tories have been fined a record £70,000, how can I make sure the record is correct: the SNP was the only major party not fined at the election, and our record number of MPs was returned without any financial shenanigans? How do I make the Leader of the House consider it worthwhile to make an apology?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for his characteristic courtesy in giving me advance notice of his intention to raise it. What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is as follows: first, he has found his own salvation by putting what he regards as the facts of the matter on the record, where they will permanently reside, doubtless to the great delight of the hon. Gentleman and possibly of other people in Kilmarnock and Loudoun; and, secondly, when the hon. Gentleman asks what can be done to procure an apology from the Leader of the House, I fear that that may be a case of optimism triumphing over reality. I was in the Chamber at the time, and the Leader of the House is of course responsible for what he says, but I think the Leader of the House offered a robust response in the course of what might have been thought a knockabout exchange. I have always thought that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Alan Brown) was quite a steely fellow himself, but if I am in any sense mistaken on that front, may I commend to him the benefits of acquiring at least one of the characteristics of the rhinoceros? I am referring not of course to aesthetic beauty, but to notable resilience. We will leave it there for now.
If there are no further points of order, at any rate for now, we come to the presentation of a Bill. [Interruption.] Order. I am sure hon. Members are awaiting with anticipation and a degree of excitement the presentation of a Bill in the name of the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz).
Violent Crime (Sentences) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Keith Vaz presented a Bill to increase the minimum custodial sentence on conviction for possession of a knife or other offensive weapon for an offender aged 18 years or over and to increase the minimum period of detention and training order for a person aged 16 or 17; to set a minimum custodial sentence on conviction for an offender in possession of a knife or other weapon and intending to commit any offence or having such a weapon available to use in committing murder; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 12 May, and to be printed (Bill 160).