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Points of Order

Volume 671: debated on Tuesday 4 February 2020

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Today the Prime Minister is holding an important strategy meeting about COP26—a meeting that many think should have been held before the former president of the COP was appointed, never mind sacked. Have you received any indication from the Government that a statement will be made in the House about perhaps the most important issue facing our country over the next 12 months, which is the climate conference in Glasgow in December? We want to be absolutely bipartisan and ensure that that conference is a success, but we need it to be discussed and debated in this place. The Government must be open with us about the strategy that they want to adopt, so that we can back them and ensure that we achieve the real objectives of the COP.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I am sure that those on the Treasury Bench will have heard his kind offer and his request for a statement to be made, but I have received no notification about a statement.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wish to raise a point of order about the Minister’s response to my urgent question on universal credit earlier today, because I believe he may have inadvertently misled the House. I understand that he was defending the Secretary of State from the beleaguered position and shambles that the Department found itself in, which led to the need for the urgent question, and I have informed the Chair and the Minister in question of my intention to raise this point of order.

The Minister first said that he had informed the House about this issue “yesterday”, and went on to say that he had written to the Chair of a yet-to-be-appointed Select Committee in order to do so. Do you believe, Madam Deputy Speaker, that that is informing the House about a major change to our social security system such as this delay to universal credit? My understanding after five years in this House is that properly informing the House is done by a written ministerial statement, or by an oral ministerial statement.

I have since been advised that last night the Minister sent round a “Dear colleague” letter, but that is still not informing the House because the Whip’s assistant to whom that letter was sent in our Whips’ Office has been off ill, and I am still to receive a copy. It appears that Ministers sent that letter to people as an afterthought, rather than as a proactive way of informing the House. Do you expect Ministers to inform the House via statements, Madam Deputy Speaker, as I believe has normally been the practice, rather than by letters that can be lost, and do you expect the Minister to clarify the remarks that he earlier put on the record?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. He raised a number of issues about what the Minister said and subsequently did, and I am sure that the Minister will want to check the record of what he said in response to the urgent question. Having looked at the record, if the Minister considers that anything he said was in any way inaccurate, he will want to put the record straight and issue a ministerial correction in the usual way. It is important to be clear about what was actually said and subsequently done.