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Points of Order

Volume 743: debated on Monday 15 January 2024

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In line with the House’s rules, I informed the Member in question that I would be referencing him.

In the statement, the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) implied that I had given a “free pass” to the terrorists who carried out the 7 October attacks. That claim is grotesquely untrue. My question to the Prime Minister in no way had that implication. I was calling for de-escalation in the region and for an immediate ceasefire, so the hon. Gentleman’s accusation is absolutely untrue. In this House and elsewhere, I have repeatedly condemned the actions of Hamas and called for the release of all hostages. Moreover, his gross accusation plays to a racist trope by implying that, because I am a Muslim, I support Hamas. With rising Islamophobia and racist tropes asking British Muslims to prove their loyalty, Mr Deputy Speaker, may I ask you for guidance on how to get a full retraction and an apology from the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole?

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. As loth as I am to engage in this silliness, let me be absolutely clear to the hon. Lady that not only did I not reference her, but I have on numerous occasions—[Interruption.] If she will listen to my response, I have said on numerous occasions that too many people have failed to call out what I think is unacceptable behaviour. I have said that before, and I am not going to stop saying that, on occasion, I think people have given a free pass to this behaviour and have not dealt with it with a fair hand. That is an open point of debate. I have called out people on my own side for that—[Interruption.] Will she listen to me? It has absolutely nothing to do with this.

I do not want to engage in this silliness, but I say to the hon. Lady that I have absolutely no intention of implying that she is any way—[Interruption.] Let me respond. I have no intention of implying that she in any way supports that. I am sure she does not, I did not say that and I would never say it. However, I am also not going to not say what I think in this House or to stop calling people out. On this issue, I think too many people in this place are giving a free pass to one side while not acknowledging the horrors that the other side suffered.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek your guidance on the parliamentary convention regarding the deployment of UK armed forces for armed conflict. The Prime Minister will have heard the consternation from across the House about MPs having a say on this deployment of troops in the Red sea. There is a convention, forged in the fire of the Iraq war debates, that this House should have its say in advance of any military action. That was confirmed on the Floor of the House in 2011—under the then Prime Minister, now the Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron—when the then Leader of the House said:

“We propose to observe that convention except when there is an emergency and such action would not be appropriate.”—[Official Report, 10 March 2011; Vol. 524, c. 1066.]

We were told for weeks that these strikes were about to happen, so this was not an emergency. The Prime Minister mentioned a process in 2015, which I presume was to do with Iraq. However, in that justification, which again was given on the Floor of the House, the Minister said that it was not military action. In fact, it is only the 2018 lack of vote and debate that is the aberration since 2002. So my question is this: does this Prime Minister observe that convention? What is the guidance for this House? What is the process to ensure that we can hold the Government to account on this matter, which should have urgent consideration?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order and for advance notice of it. Since 2011, the Government have recognised the convention that before troops are committed this House should have an opportunity to debate the matter. The Government have undertaken, in the Cabinet manual and in statements to this House, to observe that convention, except when there is an emergency and such action would not be appropriate. It is for the Government to explain to the House why prior parliamentary authorisation was not appropriate in this case. As she will have heard, the Prime Minister was asked directly by the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Richard Foord) about pre-authorisation and the House heard his response to that question.

Bill Presented

Airports (Prohibition of Night Flights) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Sarah Olney, supported by John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter, Munira Wilson, Christine Jardine, Dr Rupa Huq and Ed Davey, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on the merits of prohibiting scheduled flights from landing or taking off between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 21 June, and to be printed (Bill 78).

The Speaker’s Absence


That the Speaker have leave of absence on Tuesday 16 January to attend the memorial service of the Right Honourable the Baroness Boothroyd, former Speaker of this House.—(Penny Mordaunt.)