Motion made, and Question put forthwith (
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S.I., 2015, No. 1951), dated
The House divided:
Ayes 292, Noes 303.
Votes cast by Members for constituencies in England:
Ayes 203, Noes 291.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will recall the debates that were held in the House on this double majority measure, when the Leader of the House made several totally unavailing attempts to explain it to Members. The Government said that nothing could pass against the will of the House and that the procedure was about ensuring that nothing was imposed on English Members against their will.
We have just had an illustration of a vote that could have enacted an order against the will of the House. The majority was only 11; if the majority had been won in the other direction and the House had voted as a whole to annul the order, and English Members had voted against it, the matter would still have stood. Students would still have been deprived of their vital maintenance grant, against the will of the House and contrary to what the Leader of the House and others on the Tory Benches told us. That will be of no satisfaction to English students who are suffering under this Government in the knowledge that they have been knowingly deprived of their maintenance grant. Will the Chair reflect on that procedure? It is totally contrary and illustrates the complete swamp into which these people have led the House.
I understand the point the right hon. Gentleman is making. Indeed, he has made the same point in different ways at various times. However, this is the first time we have had a double majority vote and this is different procedure. The right hon. Gentleman will of course appreciate that the procedure we have undertaken this afternoon was approved by the whole House and put into Standing Orders just a few months ago. Therefore, the procedure under which we have operated this afternoon has been approved by the whole House; possibly not by the right hon. Gentleman, but by a majority of the whole House.
The right hon. Gentleman very reasonably asks me—this is what I can deal with from the Chair—whether this matter will be reviewed. I am happy to tell him that of course it will be. Mr Speaker has made it clear that he will be keeping the new arrangements under review. I also understand that the Procedure Committee will be keeping the arrangements under review. I am sure the point the right hon. Gentleman has just so eloquently made will be taken into consideration by both Mr Speaker and the Procedure Committee as they consider the matter.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. This is the first time in 15 years that I have attempted to vote in the Lobby and been denied the right to do so. My name was not on the tablet used. This is a denial of the rights of my constituents to be represented in a vote in the House of Commons. I seek assurance from you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that my vote will be recorded in the Government Lobby and that this kind of error will never be allowed to happen again.
I can well understand the hon. Gentleman’s understandable consternation. I am absolutely certain that his constituency is in England, because it is right next to mine. He has a perfectly good reason to complain. It is quite wrong that his name did not appear and I am certain that that will be rectified. I am assured that although his name did not appear on the list and his vote was not recorded in the way all the others votes were, his vote has been recorded both by the Tellers and the Clerks this afternoon. He need have no fear that his opinion has been overlooked, nor should it ever be.
I am particularly concerned for the hon. Gentleman, because he is very new to this House. Indeed, I hope he will be making his maiden speech later this afternoon. We are all looking forward to that. Of course his name ought to have been there. We will do everything to make sure it is there in future.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you could help me with this. This is very serious.
The fact that one of our Members—one of the most English of all English Members—has been denied the opportunity to vote in the first double majority vote in this House is something that has to be properly investigated. Can you suggest, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether it is now worth having a recount, given that hon. Members have obviously been left out of this very important first vote?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the vote of Andrew Rosindell has most definitely been counted. There is no need for a recount.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. As part of the review into the House’s adoption of this appalling procedure, which excludes the votes of MPs, such as myself, who represent Northern Ireland constituencies—because certification has indicated a matter is exclusively English, despite its undoubtedly affecting my constituents—may I invite Ministers to Northern Ireland, with the promise of a warm welcome, to meet students affected by this vote or those affected by last week’s vote on the Housing and Planning Bill and explain to them why the rights of their representatives have not been honoured equally with those of other MPs?
As I said to Alex Salmond, the whole House decided on these new Standing Orders, but of course the hon. Lady’s vote has been registered and counted and her constituents will know how she has voted. It has not been counted twice, but it has, very definitely, been counted once. She has, however, made her point properly.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. First, may I assure the House that “Fabricant” was indeed on the tablet and that my vote was recorded? May I also take this opportunity to praise the Clerks, the Parliamentary Digital Service and you, ma’am, for taking us through, relatively smoothly, this innovative and creative bit of legislating, despite the travails of my hon. Friend Andrew Rosindell?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The Clerks, the Officers of the House and those working behind the scenes have worked hard to put this new procedure into operation. This is the first time we have had a double majority vote. It has not gone perfectly smoothly, but we all learn from our mistakes, and I am quite certain it will go more smoothly in the future. I assure the House, especially hon. Members with concerns, that both Mr Speaker and the Procedure Committee are keeping a careful eye on these matters, as, I think, is the Leader of the House, and everything that hon. Members have said will be taken into consideration.