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Points of Order

Volume 624: debated on Monday 24 April 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware that I requested an urgent question following the discovery at my advice surgery last Friday that the Home Office hotline for MPs had been due to shut that day at 5 pm and not to reopen until after the general election. I later discovered that that was the practice for a number of Government hotlines, which are mechanisms that enable MPs—as you know, we are Members of Parliament until next Tuesday—to get justice for their constituents.

Following that request, my office got a telephone call from the Cabinet Office saying, “Please withdraw it. We don’t really want to answer this.” I did not accede to that request, and what seemed to happen thereafter is that a whole load of hotlines started reopening. I quite understand why you did not grant my request for an urgent question, Mr Speaker, because it seems that just asking you had a result. As a champion of the Back Bencher, will you use your best efforts to make sure that the original plan to cut off this service to Members of Parliament does not occur until after this Parliament is dissolved?

I am grateful to the right hon. Lady. The Leader of the House is in his place and, notwithstanding the right hon. Lady’s excoriating remarks about the Government, it may be his wish to clarify the matter as he thinks fit. I can say only that I will always do my best for Back-Bench Members.

As the right hon. Lady has announced her intention to leave the House, perhaps I can wish her great good fortune, health and happiness in all she goes on to do. I am very conscious that she and I entered the House together 20 years ago, and we have come to know each other well over the past two decades. I say with feeling, best wishes and good luck.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. It might be for the convenience of the House if I were just to clarify that the understanding I have from the Cabinet Office is that there were some technical problems with one or two lines at the end of last week, but it was never, and certainly is not, the intention of the Government that these rules should be applied at this stage. They will of course come into force, as is normal, at the Dissolution of the House, when all Members cease to have the position of being a Member of Parliament.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. This morning, my office contacted UK Visas and Immigration only to be told that we are now in purdah and it would not talk to us, even about ongoing cases. Clearly, there is an inconsistency of advice going on, and I wonder whether the Leader of the House could respond.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The position is exactly as I set out in response to the point made by the right hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart).

I hope that will prove to be adequate in the coming days. I am most grateful to the Leader of the House for what he has just said, and I thank the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan).