Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 2:43 pm on 7th January 2015.

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Photo of Fiona O'Donnell Fiona O'Donnell Labour, East Lothian 2:43 pm, 7th January 2015

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On 4 December in answer to written question number 216656 about cuts to the east coast main line by the new operators Virgin and Stagecoach and the reduction in the number of stops, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport with responsibility for rail franchises, Claire Perry, replied with a list of stations that would receive a reduction of one daily stop. This included Dunbar station in my constituency, and as you can imagine, Madam Deputy Speaker, it caused great upset and distress for many of my constituents. However, today I was contacted by Stagecoach which informed me that my constituents and I have been misled. What assistance can you give me to ensure that the Under-Secretary corrects her answer, provides more accurate answers in future and apologises to my constituents?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving me notice of her intention to raise a point of order. Unusually, it seems that she has had better news than she expected. The hon. Lady is well aware that the content of a ministerial answer is not a matter for me, but I am quite certain that if the Minister has inadvertently given a wrong answer, she will take the first opportunity to correct it. I have every confidence that those on the Treasury Bench will convey to the relevant Minister the points that have been made.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. During the urgent question on A and E, I challenged the Secretary of State to say whether he regretted the Government’s recommendation to close the A and E at Lewisham hospital, and he accused me of misleading my constituents and therefore of misleading the House. I have in my hand the recommendation of the special administrator’s report, published on 7 January 2013, which recommends closure of Lewisham’s A and E and its replacement with an urgent care centre. Given that the Secretary of State accepted that recommendation and was then forced to rescind it after a judicial review in October 2013, can you give me some guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, on how I can get the record put straight and bring the Secretary of State back here to correct what he said because I was not misleading the House or my constituents?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the point of order, but as I said to Fiona O'Donnell, the contents of what a Minister has said at the Dispatch Box or elsewhere is not a matter for me. He asks how he might draw attention to the facts, but he has just done so. Once again, I am confident that those on the Treasury Bench, from whom I am receiving nods of agreement, will make sure the Minister is aware of the hon. Gentleman’s point. No one wants the record of this place ever to be wrong, and it is important to correct it at the first opportunity.

Photo of Kelvin Hopkins Kelvin Hopkins Labour, Luton North

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On Monday this week, the Prime Minister chose to make only a written statement on the European Council meeting instead of his customary oral statement during which Members can question him on the issues raised. Given the intensification of the eurozone crisis and its implications for Britain, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, to which there has been much opposition, and the many other important matters that have been raised, it was vital for the Prime Minister to report to the House in person and submit to questioning from Members, even if on a later day than usual. Will you use your good offices, Madam Deputy Speaker, to seek to persuade the Prime Minister to make his European Council statements orally on all occasions so that all Members have an opportunity to question him personally and in public?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

It is kind of the hon. Gentleman to suggest that I might have any influence whatsoever over the Prime Minister. I can assure him that of course I do not. But he does, and it is open to him, as indeed it is to any Member, to submit an application for an urgent question, which Mr Speaker would consider. If the urgent question is truly urgent, the Prime Minister or another Minister would be obliged to come to the House. I can also advise the hon. Gentleman that if he wishes to debate the matter, he can apply to do so through the good offices of the Backbench Business Committee.