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Points of Order

Volume 637: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2018

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the Foreign Secretary’s response to an urgent question a few minutes ago, he said: “Thinking ahead to the World cup this summer, it is very difficult to imagine how UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way”. If the Foreign Secretary is saying that England should pull out of the World cup, the consequences would be absolutely massive for the travel industry and other businesses, as well as the media and the tens of thousands of supporters who intend to travel. Have you heard, Mr Speaker, whether there will be a statement to that effect? If not, we should ask the Foreign Secretary to come back very quickly to explain such an important claim.

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his attempted point of order—a description I use advisedly. I understand the very strong concern he feels about this matter, not least in view of his passion for sport which, as he knows, he shares with me and with a great many right hon. and hon. Members across the House. To be fair to the Foreign Secretary, whom the hon. Gentleman briefly quoted, he used the conditional tense. I think it would be correct to say that he was ruminating on the possibilities in the event of no improvement in the situation. I do not think it would be right to say that he made a statement of policy. It is, however, a matter of concern and one which, knowing the insistence of the hon. Gentleman in the pursuit of his quarry, I think he will be minded again to raise in the days ahead.

Order. I am not sure that there is a “further”, as I gave a pretty comprehensive response to the hon. Gentleman, but I am in such good spirit that I am inclined to indulge him, as he seems curiously and fetishistically attached to his device.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. To be fair, the Foreign Secretary qualified his comments by saying: “If things turn out to be as many Members…suspect they will”. He did not say, “If there is no improvement in relations,” so he was very specific. He is saying that if things are as we suspect they are, he will call into question whether we should appear at the World cup. That is a fairly substantial policy declaration, so I wonder whether we should ask him to make a statement to the House to that effect.

The whole point about this situation is that there is an urgency and a topicality associated with it. The reason why I granted the urgent question to the Foreign Secretary was precisely that I thought the matter warranted the urgent attention of the House today. There had been no offer of a Government statement, but I decided that a Minister should come to respond to the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat). There is a police investigation into a particular set of circumstances, which will cause grave disquiet to colleagues —the incident, rather than the police investigation—and the matter is ongoing. If, in the days ahead, the hon. Gentleman wishes to assume his place in the Chamber, there will be an opportunity for him to put questions. If the situation were to prove as bad as some fear, I have no doubt that a Minister would volunteer a statement. If, however, such a statement is not volunteered when it is warranted, the use of the urgent question is now very commonplace. On my recollection, since I took the Chair of this House, we have had 441 urgent questions over the past eight and a half years. The hon. Gentleman should not despair. He need not fear that his legitimate concerns will not have a chance to be aired in this Chamber, for they will have such a chance. I hope that that will satisfy the hon. Gentleman, at least for now.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I rise to draw attention to the fact that at the end of last week the US Administration gave notice of potential punitive tariffs—about 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium. Since then, they have suggested that there will be further punitive action against car imports. I am surprised, Mr Speaker, that we have not already had a statement from a Minister about trade policy and the trade action that the UK Government are taking. I seek your guidance on whether you have been given notice that one will be forthcoming.

I have been given no indication that a statement on the matter is forthcoming. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is with us in the Chamber, and he will have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said. I think it is fair to say—I make this point for the benefit of those who were not present yesterday during the Prime Minister’s statement but who are listening to our proceedings—that the matter was touched upon in the course of the questioning of the Prime Minister. However, that is very different from a full-blooded treatment of what is a very important discrete issue in and of itself. If the issue remains urgent in the mind of the hon. Gentleman and is objectively urgent, it may well have an opportunity to be aired in the course of this week.

Bills Presented

Hospital Patients (Transport)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Tim Farron, supported by Tom Brake, Layla Moran, Stephen Lloyd, Norman Lamb, Grahame Morris and Gillian Keegan, presented a Bill to make provision about transport services for patients travelling to and from hospital appointments, including requiring the Government to review the current provision of public and private transport services for such purposes; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 July 2018, and to be printed (Bill 173).

Voyeurism (Offences)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Wera Hobhouse, supported by Sir Vince Cable, Jo Swinson, Christine Jardine, Layla Moran, Caroline Lucas, Anna Soubry, Jeremy Lefroy, Catherine West, Grahame Morris, Tonia Antoniazzi and Ben Lake, presented a Bill to make certain acts of voyeurism an offence.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 11 May 2018, and to be printed (Bill 174).