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Point of Order

Volume 636: debated on Thursday 22 February 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know this issue has been raised with you before, but I wish to raise it now while the Leader of the House is in her place. Many constituents come to Parliament to meet Ministers and raise significant issues. Many of my constituents have to travel from Edinburgh to London, but no facility is in place to assist them with travel expenses. Jennifer Stewart and Robert Ure came to see a Health Minister after my Adjournment debate about their son who is dying of a brain tumour, and they had to come to London at their own expense this week. Is there any mechanism to look at this issue again, so that those constituents who live furthest from London are not disenfranchised from meeting Ministers and participating in that process?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, but I am not aware of any current plan to make such provision. However, I have heard what he said, and I am conscious that in a different context the House does provide support—for example, for schoolchildren who visit this place from considerable distances away—and that a subsidy is in place to enable people who might not otherwise come to do so.

Off the top of my head, my sense is that a generalised provision might not find favour among my colleagues on the relevant Committees, and it is likely to be very expensive. However, where there are particular, pressing reasons for someone to come, and where it could be financially prohibitive or cause considerable disadvantage for them to come without assistance, perhaps my colleagues and I could look at that. If the hon. Gentleman is willing to write to me about the matter, I make a commitment that the relevant body in the House, whether that is the Administration Committee, the Finance Committee or, potentially, the House of Commons Commission, will consider the matter. I hope that is helpful and as much as the hon. Gentleman would reasonably expect me to say today. He has raised an important point, and I thank him for doing so.

If there are no further points of order, we come to the first Select Committee statement. The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who is poised and perched like a panther ready to pounce, will speak on his subject for up to 10 minutes, during which no interventions may be taken. At the conclusion of his statement, the Chair will call Members to put questions on the subject of the statement, and the hon. Gentleman will respond to those in turn. Members can expect to be called only once. Interventions should be questions and should be brief. Front-Bench Members may take part in questions. I call the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.