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Points of Order

Volume 737: debated on Tuesday 12 September 2023

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. St Leonard’s in my constituency is one of the schools affected by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete. Last week, we received a ministerial statement from the Secretary of State for Education, but, this week, despite RAAC still being an issue, we have heard nothing from the Secretary of State or a Minister. The issue may be yesterday’s news to some, but it is a very real issue for my constituents, many of whom have written to me to express their anger and anxiety about this avoidable crisis. May I please seek your guidance, Mr Speaker, as to how we can implore the Secretary of State to come back to the House this week—preferably tomorrow when it is well attended— and update us on what her Department is doing?

First, I thank the hon. Member for notice of her point of order. As she says, the Secretary of State did make a statement on the subject last week. I have had no notice from Ministers that they intend to make a further statement on this matter this week. However, I am sure that Ministers on the Treasury Bench will have heard her point of order, and I know that Members would like an update before the House goes off again.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I should say that this point of order comes with a trigger warning. Today BBC News, The Times and others carry shocking reports that female surgeons are sexually harassed, assaulted and in some cases raped by colleagues, and some of the sexual assaults take place in operating theatres while female surgeons perform surgery on anaesthetised patients. The House will also be aware that on 23 May this year it was reported that more than 35,000 incidents of sexual misconduct or sexual violence were recorded on NHS premises in England between 2017 and 2022.

Those reports are just as serious as some of the revelations about sexual misconduct in the Metropolitan police, which rightly led to the creation of the Casey review of the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Met. But when revelations are repeatedly made about the scale of the same problem in the NHS, they are met with Government inaction. I would be grateful if you could confirm whether the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care intends to make a statement to the House on today’s shocking revelations, or whether he intends to announce an independent inquiry so that we can expose the scale of sexual misconduct in the NHS and put an end to that horrific practice and culture of silence.

I thank the hon. Member for giving me notice of the point of order. I have had no indication from Ministers that they intend to make a statement on this important matter, but I am sure that the Government Front Bench will have heard the point of order. If not, I am sure the hon. Lady will pursue it through other means, and there will be opportunities to do so before the House rises.