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Points of Order

Volume 627: debated on Thursday 13 July 2017

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think that in a moment the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will be presented. It has already been online on the parliamentary website for the last hour and a half. This is a complete breach of the Standing Orders of the House: the convention is that it is presented to the House before it is presented to anybody else. Also, we cannot get a copy of it in the Vote Office, but we can get a copy of it online. I hope that there will be an investigation into this matter.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for bringing this matter to the attention of the Chair, and I understand that indeed the text of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has been located on the Parliament website this morning, in advance of its presentation. This should not have happened, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that an investigation is currently under way into this most regrettable matter.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Has there been any indication from the Government Front Bench whether a Minister will come to the House to apologise for that transgression?

I have said that the matter is being investigated, and I am sure that the Treasury Bench has heard the points that have been made. Interruption.] Order.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Do Ministers have any responsibility for the website of the House? [Interruption.]

Order. [Interruption.] Order. The House is lively this morning. Let us have a little order. I have already said that those who are responsible are carrying out an investigation, and in due course I am quite certain we will be able to report to the Chamber just what went wrong and make sure it does not happen again.

During the investigation, will Government Ministers be questioned about how the House of Commons website obtained the document?

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Will you confirm that, immediately after the presentation of the Bill and its First Reading, the Second Reading will deal with the principle of the Bill, according to “Erskine May” and all the rules of the House? Will you also confirm, with respect to this particular Bill, that although some do not seem to have seen it yet, it is about leaving the European Union and repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and that anyone who votes against its Second Reading will be in breach of that principle?

As the hon. Gentleman and the House know, the Bill in question is about to be presented. When the Minister presents the Bill, it will then be there for all to see. Each Member can make their own consideration of what the Bill is about and how they would like to interpret it. If they wish to try to amend it, that is what Parliament is for. I am quite sure that we will have plenty of discussion about that in the forthcoming weeks and months.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice on an issue that was debated in Westminster Hall on Wednesday 5 July —namely, the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign. The debate was very well attended, and the resolution to accept the motion was rejected. Given that we have no Opposition day debates and no opportunity for Back-Bench business debates before the recess, would it be possible to have a deferred Division on this question so that Members can have a recorded vote on it?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. It is also refreshing to have a point of order that is a point of order. My understanding is that, following the debate in Westminster Hall last week, the motion—that this House has considered the state pension age for women—was, most unusually, negatived. This might reflect the strength of feeling on the matter, but it does not have any procedural effect. The fact is that the question was put to the Members present in Westminster Hall and they came to a decision, which was to negative the motion. That has no procedural effect, but I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman and any of his colleagues wish to have the matter further considered, they will use their ingenious knowledge of parliamentary procedure to ensure that that happens.

Bill Presented

European Union (Withdrawal)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary David Davis, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Damian Green, Mr Secretary Johnson and Mr Secretary Lidington, presented a Bill to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and make other provision in connection with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 5) with explanatory notes (Bill 5-EN).