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Points of Order

Volume 686: debated on Thursday 17 December 2020

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Have you received any indication from the Secretary of State for Education on when his statement regarding pupils’ return to school in January and the roll-out of mass testing in schools will be put before this House? Last night we saw contradictory briefings to the media. Today, the Health Secretary in this Chamber and the permanent secretary to the Department for Education at her appearance before the Public Accounts Committee said there would be an announcement, but there is still no clarity.

Pupils are due to break up for the Christmas holidays tonight, if they have not already done so. Tomorrow is to be an inset day. Parents, teachers and school staff need to know what is going to happen in January and what support they will receive to make it happen. They deserve better from this incompetent Government. Do you know, Madam Deputy Speaker, when and whether we may expect a statement on the matter from the Secretary of State for Education?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order and for giving me advance notice of her intention to raise the matter. If a Minister wished to make a statement, had notified Mr Speaker accordingly and a statement was to be made, the House would have been informed. As she knows, Mr Speaker is very anxious that statements are made first to the House and not to the media. I am sure that those on the Treasury Bench will have noted her concerns and will convey them back to the relevant Department.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in his response to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith), was very clear that the Secretary of State for Education is to make an announcement on schools. I have been inundated—I am sure many other right hon. and hon. Members have been, too—with emails, letters and correspondence from parents and teachers concerned about what is happening in schools. I know Mr Speaker is very clear that statements should be made here and not outside. I therefore wonder whether, through you, Madam Deputy Speaker, Mr Speaker could this afternoon inquire at the Department for Education whether or not a statement is going to be made to the House this afternoon, because this is causing great anxiety among our constituents.

There is very little I can add to what I said previously, but of course I will convey back the various points that have been made. As I said, I am sure those on the Treasury Bench will convey the points back to the Department as well.

We will have a three-minute suspension to allow for the safe exit and entry of hon. and right hon. Members.

Sitting suspended.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 25),

That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn until Tuesday 5 January 2021.—(Tom Pursglove.)

Question agreed to.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the Order of 30 November 2020 (Telecommunications (Security) Bill: Programme) be varied as follows:

In paragraph (2) of the Order (conclusion of proceedings in Public Bill Committee), for “Tuesday 19 January” substitute “Thursday 28 January”.—(Tom Pursglove..)

Question agreed to.



That, at this day’s sitting, the Speaker shall not adjourn the House until he has notified the Royal Assent to any Act agreed upon by both Houses.—(Tom Pursglove.)