Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 15th July 2015.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot 2:30 pm, 15th July 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker—perhaps before the Home Secretary leaves, for it is pertinent to her Department. I am not sure if you are aware, but for the second day running Parliament Square has been blocked by a demonstration, and the police seem completely powerless to do anything about it. Traffic is backing up down Victoria Street and, for all I know, the other streets around Parliament Square, making it difficult for Members of this House and the other place to access this place. Today’s protest appears to be about something going on in a foreign country. May I ask you whether you have had a chance to have a word with the Home Secretary, or indeed with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, whose job it is to ensure that access to this place is guaranteed, about clearing Parliament Square of this demonstration, which is causing huge inconvenience to the people of London? Perhaps you might like to engage the services of the Mayor of London, my hon. Friend Boris Johnson.

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

In the course of his point of order, the hon. Gentleman referred to a litany of distinguished personalities. I have not discussed the matter with the Home Secretary. I was at an event with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner the other day, and we did have a brief exchange, but I did not know then of the upcoming demonstration, still less of the intellectual ferocity of the hon. Gentleman’s prospective point of order, so I did not discuss the matter with him either. The Mayor of London is not far away; I suggest that the hon. Gentleman might have a chat with his hon. Friend. The important point, of course, is that notwithstanding the right to demonstrate, the right of Members to go about their business unimpeded must be upheld. If the hon. Gentleman has concerns on that front, this is an issue that can very properly be taken forward with the appropriate authorities, of which there are more than one.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

On a point of order, Mr Speaker, of which I have given the relevant Minister notice. Is it in order for a Minister to threaten to exclude an hon. Member from information and correspondence about his local NHS, to bar me from access to senior NHS officials, and even to threaten negative consequences for me and my constituents—and all because I have been critical of the Government’s continuing failure to grip the unprecedented financial crisis facing Devon NHS? That was the essence of an encounter with the Under-Secretary of State for Health, Ben Gummer, just outside this Chamber last night. Will you please remind the Minister that he is accountable to this House, that it is the job of a Member of Parliament to speak up on behalf of his or her constituents, and that such behaviour from a Minister of the Crown is completely intolerable?

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

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for his courtesy in giving me notice of it. I do not want to be drawn, and fear that I cannot be drawn, into conversations between hon. Members to which I was not myself privy, including those between hon. Members and Ministers. What I will say is this: I am sure that the hon. Member for Ipswich is well aware of his responsibilities and that the right hon. Member for Exeter will continue to be a doughty champion for his constituents. He has a right to be, he has a responsibility to be, and I am sure he will be.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Three weeks ago today, the Prime Minister promised to publish data on the number of people in receipt of employment and support allowance and incapacity benefit who had died since November 2011, including those who had been found fit for work. Indeed, I raised it as a point of order on the same day. To date, nothing has been published. These people who died and their families deserve better than this. As we are approaching the summer recess, I will be very grateful if you can advise me on how I might expedite the publication of these data—on actual deaths and not just mortality rates as the Government have proposed.

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

The short answer to the hon. Lady, whose long-standing interest in this subject is well known, is that she must use the device of questioning, and there are further opportunities for questioning of various sorts between now and when we rise for the summer recess. If that method does not suit her, for whatever reason—and sometimes it has to be done more than once, even several times—there will be the opportunity, of course, to offer thoughts in the summer Adjournment debate, though I accept that she might not elicit a substantive reply from the responsible Minister. Use of the Order Paper and of the various opportunities for oral questioning—she will know that there are a number of different options on that front—would be her best course, and I advise her to try to take it. [Interruption.] The hon. Lady very courteously says from a sedentary position that she has done that several times. As I have sometimes had cause to observe, repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons, and sometimes a Member who has done something several times simply has to resolve to do it again and again—and there will be such opportunities for the hon. Lady on that matter and for other Members on matters that concern them.