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Points of Order

Volume 689: debated on Thursday 25 February 2021

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Yesterday, I asked a question at Prime Minister’s Question Time. My question was: is the 40% cut to Transport for the North’s budget part of the Prime Minister’s plans for levelling up the north. The Prime Minister replied:

“There has been no such cut, and we intend to invest massively in Northern Powerhouse Rail, and in railways in the north and across the entire country.”—[Official Report, 24 February 2021; Vol. 689, c. 911.]

I raise this point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, as I believe that the Prime Minister has misled the House by saying this. The papers for the Transport for the North board meeting in January 2021 set out the cut. Iain Craven, finance director at Transport for the North, has said:

“Transport for the North has clearly indicated its disappointment and concern that, at a time when the Government’s levelling up agenda is needed most, funding is being cut, putting northern investment and jobs at risk.’

There has been further extensive media coverage of the Government’s decision to cut 40% of the core central funding for Transport for the North in the Rail Technology Magazine, the Yorkshire Post, and on ITV and the BBC. Mayor Burnham has spoken about this cut, too. Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek your guidance as to what can be done to correct the record on an issue that many people in the north care deeply about.

I am very grateful to the right hon. Member for giving me notice of her intention to raise this matter. I am sure she will confirm that what she was saying was that the Prime Minister unintentionally misled the House.

She is nodding. As she knows, I am not responsible for the accuracy or otherwise of what is said by Ministers from the Dispatch Box, but she has made her concerns known very clearly to the House, and I am sure that she will also find other ways to pursue this matter, and those on the Treasury Bench will have heard what she said.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In the light of the report on the Northern Ireland protocol carried out by the European Research Group, a group of influential Members of this House, and further to the Joint Committee meeting that was held yesterday that brought no resolution, may I ask whether you have received any notification that the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will make an urgent statement to this House to address the failure of the Northern Ireland protocol, including the economic and community disasters and problems that have followed and the crippling effect on businesses? It is time for the United Kingdom Government to action article 16 and scrap the Northern Ireland protocol.

I thank the hon Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I am not aware of any request by the Government to make a statement on the important issue raised by him, but I am sure that those on the Government Benches will have heard his request.