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Points of Order

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 18 October 2022

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As we are all aware, the Prime Minister was absent during yesterday’s urgent question. We were assured at the time by the Leader of the House that there was “a very good reason” why the Prime Minister was unable to attend.

We were told that

“the Prime Minister is detained on urgent business”.—[Official Report, 17 October 2022; Vol. 720, c. 377.]

Naturally, Members across the House wondered whether that might mean a matter of national security or perhaps a meeting with an international ally, but it has now been reported that in fact the Prime Minister was holding a meeting with the chairman of the 1922 committee—not crisis talks, but a planned meeting. In the light of that information, it is hard to see how the picture painted by the Leader of the House yesterday holds up. Will she come and correct the record?

I am grateful to the hon. Member for notice of his point of order. He will know—if he did not, he will now—that I am not responsible for ministerial answers. If the Leader of the House feels that she has to correct the record, I am sure that she will do so. Also, we should not always look at or listen to what is in the press.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The ministerial code is very clear that if a Minister is visiting a Member’s constituency, he or she should inform that Member in good time. Indeed, all hon. Members who are visiting another Member’s constituency should inform that Member.

On Wednesday 12 October, the Minister for London, the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully), attended my constituency, as did the hon. Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham). Disappointingly, neither of their offices sought to inform mine. I seek your guidance, Mr Speaker, as to how we can ensure that all hon. Members adhere to the conventions and inform other Members when they wish to attend their constituencies.

I thank the hon. Lady for notice of her point of order and am grateful, as ever, for the way in which she puts it. She is absolutely correct. Not only do the House’s rules of behaviour and courtesies make it clear to all colleagues that they should give notice whenever they

“visit a colleague’s constituency (except on purely private visits)”,

but the ministerial code states:

“Ministers intending to make an official visit within the United Kingdom must inform in advance, and in good time, the MPs whose constituencies are to be included within the itinerary.”

It is about courtesy to colleagues. Ministers in particular must follow their own rules. I look to those on the Government Benches to ensure that this exchange is shared with ministerial colleagues so that it is not a recurring problem.

I add that the general election will be a frantic time, so I remind Members in all political parties that when they go into constituencies—I recognise that some might be more marginal than others—they must give due notice to ensure that the relevant Member is aware.

Bill Presented

Energy Equity Commission Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Clive Lewis, supported by Caroline Lucas, Nadia Whittome, Claire Hanna, Stephen Farry, Liz Saville Roberts, Olivia Blake and Rachael Maskell, presented a Bill to establish an Energy Equity Commission to prepare a strategy for the UK Government to help manage energy costs for households, businesses, non-profit organisations and public services by ending fossil fuel dependence; to require the Commission to set equalities and environmental objectives to be met by the UK Government in implementing the strategy; to require the Commission to make recommendations on replacing the price cap system with a free Universal Basic Energy Allowance and an associated social tariff for retail energy, on an energy allowance in Universal Credit and legacy benefits, on writing off household energy debt, on the remit and objectives of Ofgem, and on how the UK Government should meet the costs of the measures recommended by the Commission; to require the Commission to prepare a Retrofitting Strategy for the Nations, including proposals for a street-by-street retrofit programme led by devolved administrations and local authorities, for financial support for improving energy efficiency, for how to target households, businesses, not-for-profit organisations and public services most in need of support, for any changes required to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and Future Buildings Standards, for addressing workforce and training needs, and proposals on how the UK Government should meet the costs of these measures; to require the UK Government to implement the strategy and recommendations of the Energy Equity Commission within a specified timeframe; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 March 2023, and to be printed (Bill 163).