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Points of Order

Volume 695: debated on Wednesday 19 May 2021

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will recall that in 2013, the former Prime Minister set up an independent panel to investigate the failed investigations by the Metropolitan police of the horrific murder of Daniel Morgan. That independent panel was meant to be completely independent of Government. It produced its report last week. The terms of reference make it very clear that the only role that the Home Secretary has is in arranging publication of the report to Parliament. The panel thought that that would happen the next sitting day, which should have been this past Monday. For some unknown reason, the Home Office has decided to delay it. There is no guarantee when the report will be published at all.

Is there any means of our making sure that the Government publish the report and that, when it is published—I have not seen it, but it might raise very serious issues for policing and of corruption in this country—the Home Secretary comes to the House in person and makes an oral statement on the back of it?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for having given me notice of his point of order. I can answer his main question simply by saying that I have not received any notice from the Home Office that it intends to make a statement about this matter. That does not mean that Ministers will not possibly decide to come to the Chamber next week to address the matter.

The hon. Gentleman knows that Ministers’ appearances in the Chamber are not a matter for the Chair, but he also knows that there are many ways in which he can seek to require that a Minister comes to the Chamber, and I am sure that he will pursue those lines of inquiry. I also note that those on the Treasury Bench will have taken note of what he has said and what I have said, and that those matters will be conveyed to the appropriate Ministers.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On Monday at the Dispatch Box, the Secretary of State for Health stated:

The truth is that when we put Pakistan and Bangladesh on the red list, positivity among those arriving from those countries was three times higher than it was among those arriving from India.—[Official Report, 17 May 2021; Vol. 695, c. 430.]

However, the data he referred to, which he directed me to in the same debate, states that India’s positivity rate was 5%, Bangladesh’s was 4% and Pakistan’s was 6%, from 25 March to 7 April. It is during that two-week period that Bangladesh and Pakistan were put on the red list, so it is clear from that data that the positivity rates were not three times higher, and that in fact India’s positivity rate was higher that Bangladesh’s when Bangladesh was put on the red list. As the Secretary of State is here, Madam Deputy Speaker, can you urge him to clarify his comments?

The hon. Lady knows that that is not a matter for the Chair. She is seeking to continue a debate or an exchange of questions and answers that occurred earlier in the Chamber—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady must not interrupt when I am answering her question. She cannot answer back.

I accept her apology. I was about to say that we are about to have a debate, and that the right time for the hon. Lady to raise these matters will be during the debate. However, I notice that the Secretary of State is at the Dispatch Box, and if he would like to deal with the matter now, I will exceptionally allow that to take place. However, I do not encourage Members to raise points of order in this sequence of events.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I thought that point might come up in the forthcoming debate, but since it has come up now, I can address the question. Of course it is important that parliamentary debates use accurate statistics, so I want to correct the hon. Lady. I can give her the statistics on which the decision was taken. The positivity rates on which we took the decision to put Pakistan, but not India, on the red list were 1.6% in India and 4.6% in Pakistan, which is three times higher, as I said.

There is a further point that is important in this debate, which is that the dates covered by the data that the hon. Lady just gave, and that were widely circulated in the media this morning, included dates after the decision was taken. It is perfectly reasonable to hold politicians to account for the data on which their decisions are taken, but unfortunately we cannot take decisions based on data that has yet to occur. I have just given the facts, and we will now be able to have a debate not only on those facts but on others. It is important that we stick to the facts.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his clarification of that point of order. I reiterate that points of order should not be used in this way. That was a matter for debate, and it is exceptional that I have allowed this exchange, because I recognised the matter to be exceptional and important. I do not encourage hon. Members to bring forward points of order in this way in future.

I will now briefly suspend the House in order that arrangements can be made for the next debate.

Sitting suspended.