Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:19 pm on 27th October 2011.

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Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 1:19 pm, 27th October 2011

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will know that very often a generic issue arises out of the very specific, and I wish to raise a generic issue and seek your guidance. The guidance I seek is on the necessity for accuracy in facts that are used in debates. Very often the interpretation of facts will differ, but facts are very important. Yesterday, in the course of a debate, a number of Labour local authorities were derided for, in the words of the hon. Member—I said the point is generic, so I will not name the individual—their “appalling and terrible” record on recycling. My own local authority was mentioned in the list, with a 33% rate of recycling. That was inaccurate; the actual rate is 51%. I request guidance from you, Mr Speaker, and possibly from “Erskine May”, on the need for accuracy, or alternatively, the need for Members to return to the House to correct the record, because I suspect that the other Labour local authorities named also have admirable recycling records and would want Hansard to reflect that accurately.

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Richard Taylor
Posted on 7 Nov 2011 12:32 am (Report this annotation)

Erskine May refers to a resolution of the House of Commons on the subject of Ministerial Accountability to Parliament passed on the 19th of March 1997.

This included the clauses:

"It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister;"

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1997-03-19a.1046.5

While ministers are required to be accurate and truthful when speaking in the House of Commons (or providing written information) there does not appear to be any similar requirement mentioned in Erskinie May which applies to members of parliament in general.

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/erskine-might.html