Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 12:36 pm on 29th February 2012.

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Photo of Julie Hilling Julie Hilling Labour, Bolton West 12:36 pm, 29th February 2012

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Further to the Prime Minister’s statement that I am sponsored by the union Unite—I am grateful that he has waited to hear this—can you advise me on how this untruth can be corrected, as I am not sponsored by Unite, and on what opportunity the Prime Minister will be given to correct the record?

Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I believe that I was reading something from the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, which is that Bolton West constituency Labour party received £1,250 from Unite in 2010 and that the hon. Lady registered a donation of £2,250 from Unite in 2010 in the register. Of course, if I have in any way got that wrong, I will come back to the House at the earliest opportunity.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons

I am most grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order, to the Prime Minister for his response to it and for this opportunity to set out the position. Let me say this for the benefit of the hon. Lady and the House: whether or not she is sponsored by Unite, and I emphasis whether or not she is—I am happy to accept that she is not if that is the factual position, because I do not know—[ Interruption. ] I do not need any help from a junior Government Whip—he would not know where to start—[ Interruption. ] Michael Fabricant says that he is a senior Government Whip—[ Interruption. ] I do not think that the Speaker has ever greatly cared about the level of seniority of Whips as far as that goes.

Whether or not the hon. Lady is sponsored by Unite, I emphasise that there is nothing wrong constitutionally in our arrangements with being sponsored by a trade union, so it is not an accusation. The matter is not—[ Interruption. ] Order. Stephen Pound is a man of magnificent qualities, but he is in no position to advise the Chair on what is or is not allowed. This is not—I repeat “not” for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman—a point of order for the Chair. That, as I often say, is the beginning and the end of the matter. The hon. Lady has put her concerns on the record.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Following my point of order with you on Monday about charges for the Clock Tower, do you have any information about whether Members will be given a vote on that very unfortunate decision to charge people to visit the House of Commons?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons

No, I have no such information, and I am afraid that it is not a point of order for the Chair. I have known the hon. Gentleman for over 20 years—probably nearer to 25—so I know what a tenacious terrier he is, but he must raise these matters in an orderly way. I think that we have got his point; he has got my response; and at least as far as today is concerned we will leave it there.

If there are no further points of order, we come now to the ten-minute rule Bill, for which Steve Baker has been so patiently waiting. It would be helpful if people going past him would do so quickly and, preferably, quietly, so that we can hear from Mr Steve Baker.