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Point of Order

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 25 November 2021

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Yesterday, during the urgent question on Bulb going into special administration, the Business Secretary told my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), after refusing to answer a question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), the shadow Business Secretary:

“There is no Government bail-out”.—[Official Report, 24 November 2021; Vol. 704, c. 358.]

Yet we learned from a court hearing on the same day, and indeed on the front page of The Daily Telegraph and other papers today, that the taxpayer is on the hook for as much as £1.7 billion as a result of this Government’s failure to properly regulate the energy market.

I ask for your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it right and proper for a Minister to say one thing to this House and another thing to the courts? Do you have any guidance on how the Business Secretary can be brought back to this House to explain why he has misled it in his answers to yesterday’s urgent question. [Interruption.]

Order. Although I am not listening to sedentary comments, I do not need to be reminded. I hope the hon. Gentleman will come back to the Dispatch Box and find other words for his last sentence. I am quite sure that no right hon. Member of this House could have misled it.

Thank you for your guidance on this matter, Madam Deputy Speaker. Of course I withdraw the question of misleading the House. I hope the Business Secretary will come to the House in due course to explain his comments.

I thank the hon. Gentleman. That is a perfectly polite and in-order question. However, it is not a point of order for the Chair, as I think he knows. Ministers are, of course, responsible for the content of their speeches and answers at the Dispatch Box, and the Chair has no control over such matters. If, however, he wishes to take the matter further and require the Secretary of State to come back to the House to revisit the matter on which he is in disagreement, I suggest that he visits the Clerks in the Table Office for advice on how he might go about that. I am also sure the Treasury Bench will have heard—

I have assent from the Minister who is now at the Dispatch Box. The Treasury Bench has heard what the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) said, and I trust that his concerns will be brought to the attention of the appropriate Secretary of State and that the matter will be revisited and, if necessary, clarified. I trust that that satisfies him.