Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 12:37 pm on 11 September 2013.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Culture and Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution) 12:37, 11 September 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In Question 3 in Scottish questions today, something was referred to as a “separate Scotland”. I do not know what a separate Scotland is, and I presume that you do not know what a separate Scotland is, and certainly nobody is trying to create one. It is an argumentative term and a pejorative one used by the opponents of Scottish independence. I raised this issue with the Clerks yesterday and they agreed that the term should not have been on the Order Paper today. Can you assure me that “separate Scotland” will not appear again in any question on the Order Paper?

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, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for his characteristic courtesy in giving me advance notice of his intention to raise it. He is, essentially, asking me whether the use of the word “separate” contravenes the rule against argument in parliamentary questions. The very fact that I am being invited to make a ruling suggests to me that a degree of controversy surrounds the word. There is a perfectly serviceable word that is used in legislation—“independent”. I think it would be best if we stuck to that in future where the rules of the House require neutral expressions. However, the use of the phrase “a separate Scotland” in debate or in supplementary questions is not unparliamentary. I hope that that is helpful.

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, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

No further point of order arises in respect of the ruling on this matter that I have given. I know the hon. Gentleman well enough to know that he would not be so unwise or discourteous as to challenge the Chair, because he is both wise and courteous.

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have evidence, which I have in my hand, that French company MagForce International and Chinese company Tianjin Myway International Trading have been promoting illegal weapons of torture at the DSEI arms fair, which is being held in London docklands this week. Can you advise me how to get that information to Ministers at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as fast as possible to get them urgently to make a statement in this House about how that can have happened, especially since this is not the first time that illegal weapons have been found at DSEI?

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, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, she has found her own salvation. She inquires about the quickest means by which to ensure that her concern is relayed to representatives of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Those on the Treasury Bench will have heard what she has to say and I am sure that it will be a matter of only seconds before her remarks wing their way to the Secretary of State. It is then for him to decide how to respond. It is not a matter of order for the Chair but the hon. Lady is well aware of the opportunities she has to call Ministers to account and I feel sure that she will deploy the weapons at her disposal.

Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West

It is, but there is a connection to the first point of order. I seek your guidance, Mr Speaker. I totally agree with your judgment on the original point of order, but may we have a judgment on when that same party attacks Scottish Labour Members of Parliament and calls them “London Labour”? That is an insult not only to the MPs but to Scotland in general. May I have a ruling on that, please?

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, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

First, I have ruled. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman, who could not conceal the evident smile on his face, is an indefatigable campaigner. He has broad shoulders and he is well able to look after himself. I think that on this occasion I have nothing to add. He has made his own point in his own way and it is on the record. I trust that his appetite on the matter is satisfied, at least for today.