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Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 9th March 2015.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield 3:38 pm, 9th March 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am known to be a long-term champion of equality for women in our society and at work. During Question Time, only a few moments ago, I referred to the Minister for Employment, Esther McVey, as “hard-hearted Hannah”, which I think she thinks was a sexist remark. It was not meant as a sexist remark; it is actually the name of a famous song sung by Ella Fitzgerald. The Minister has a reputation for being a very hard champion of the welfare reforms that this Government have introduced, so I believe that it was a fair comment to make and that it was unfair to call me a sexist. [Interruption.]

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

Order. All I need say is twofold. First, the hon. Gentleman has put his point on the record. Secondly, the way I would prefer to characterise it—I am not arguing with the hon. Gentleman—is that the Minister of State is an extremely robust character who can make her own case with force and skill, as she has done on several occasions today, and indeed at all times. If the Minister, who felt aggressed against and to an extent aggrieved, wishes to speak briefly on the matter, I would of course give her that opportunity.

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The reason I want this put on the record is that it is not the first time Opposition Members have been like this to me. John McDonnell came to my constituency and asked people—I know this is unparliamentary language—to “lynch the bitch” live in Wirral West. That is what Labour Members ask people to do in other people’s constituencies. The Opposition have form. [Interruption.]

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

Order. My role is to seek to defuse this. There are strongly held views on both sides. I asked Mr Sheerman to raise his point of order and he did, and I thought it right that the Minister of State should have a right of reply and she has had it. I understand there are strong feelings. Let us try to preserve the courtesies as best we can in the days and weeks ahead. In all sincerity, I thank—and I mean that—both Members for having made their contribution. We will leave it there.