Points of Order

The Prime Minister Was Asked – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 26th April 2017.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North 12:59 pm, 26th April 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Because Question 1 was closed, there was no opportunity to follow up that particular point about the west midlands. Is it possible to put it on the record that, if there had been an opportunity, Labour Members—certainly me and other hon. Members from the west midlands—would have restated that public services have been crippled in the west midlands as a result of the Tory cuts? That should be said, as there was no opportunity to respond to the Prime Minister’s answer.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You and I are familiar with the syndrome of pre-election tension that afflicts this place. You are concerned for the wellbeing of Members, particularly Karl McCartney, but I believe that what we have seen today is a sudden outbreak of parliamentary Tourette’s. The rumour is that something known as a “Crosby chip” has been implanted in the brains of Conservative Members that compels them to say “strong and stable” every 18 seconds and “coalition of chaos” every 38 seconds. Can we inquire into whether the affliction is permanent or one that can be cured?

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, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I am not sure it is a matter for the Chair. I can only say, I think without fear of contradiction, that in my time in this place I have never been pre-programmed, or otherwise, by anyone.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda

You used to be quite different from the way you are today.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to raise a serious point. You rightly referred earlier to today’s Order Paper, which commemorates two Members of this House who were killed in the first world war—that is the right thing for us to do. This short Parliament has seen two members of our community killed: Jo Cox, our colleague, and Keith Palmer, who was defending us. I am sure the whole House would want to add their thanks to those expressed earlier to all the police officers who work on the estate.

Jo Cox will have a shield up in the Chamber by the time the next Parliament gathers. No Parliament can bind its successors, but it seems to me and, I think, to quite a lot of Members on both sides of the House, wholly appropriate that Keith Palmer should also have a shield up in the Chamber. He was not a Member of Parliament, but he was one of us. He was our shield and defender. Surely if there are any voices out there who say that this Chamber should just be for Members, those voices should be rejected. There must be a permanent reminder of what Keith did for us.

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, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, of which I had no advance notice—I make no complaint whatsoever about that. It is right that these matters should be considered by a number of people, and it would be wrong and disrespectful to other individuals who should be consulted for me simply to say, “Yes, it’s going to happen.” Am I, however, entirely open to the hon. Gentleman’s proposition? I most certainly am. Not all precedents in every matter have to be observed. There is scope for innovation, otherwise nothing would ever change. Keith Palmer will always have a very special and perhaps unique hold on the affections and respect of Members of this House, so I think that that discussion can continue. Perhaps I can most appropriately say, having heard the hon. Gentleman’s view and having expressed a response not unsympathetic, that I would be interested to hear the views of my parliamentary colleagues. I am absolutely up for doing just that.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I certainly agree with Chris Bryant in that respect.

I am mystified by the point of order from Mr Winnick, who said that there was no opportunity to follow up on a closed question. There was an opportunity, he just did not take it. Surely he can stand and, depending on whether he catches your eye, Mr Speaker, be called on a closed question. It is just that the follow-up must relate to the substantive question on the Order Paper.

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, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

That is correct. I do not want to have a long debate about this. I do not know whether Mr Winnick was standing. I did not seek to call a supplementary on the closed question. The Chair makes a judgment about the best means by which to progress the business of the House and to maximise the opportunities for participation at Question Times in general and at the heavily subscribed Prime Minister’s Question Time in particular. I had, of course, given thought to that matter in advance, and I decided that I would move from the closed question to the engagements question from Mr Richard Drax. Believe me, I had made the mental calculations about numbers, and I think it was the right judgment.

There was not an opportunity on the closed question. More widely, I would simply say that colleagues might have noticed that, on this occasion and conscious of the very large number of people wanting to contribute, I ran proceedings on somewhat longer than normal. There is no debate offering the opportunity for valedictory speeches at the end of this Parliament, as there was at the end of the last Parliament. I make no complaint about that; I am simply saying that there is to be, as I understand it, no such opportunity. I thought that the mood of today was that as many Members as could reasonably be called should be called, perhaps particularly, although not exclusively, with regard to those who have announced their intention to leave the House. We ran on a bit, to which I reply, “So what?”

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. In order that there should be no misunderstanding, because Sir Desmond Swayne gave the strong impression that I was not standing, I was desperately trying to catch your eye. If I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman and I have all the differences in the world, I am sure, but I have always looked on him as a person of integrity. I would be most grateful if he would clarify the position.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I confess that I was not looking at Mr Winnick at the time. I accept entirely that he was standing, so I withdraw my earlier comment.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda

And you didn’t call him.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I merely want to correct Paul Flynn, who I think was referring to me when he mentioned my hon. Friend Karl McCartney. Of course I am Lichfield. Although there has been considerable speculation about what might be on my head, a chip is not one of them.

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, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

It is very reassuring to have a bit of additional information. Head inspection, so far as Michael Fabricant is concerned, may be available to Members, but it is not available to those who observe our proceedings from elsewhere. I do not want them to feel excluded.

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sure I speak for my colleagues who are standing down when I thank you very much for allowing us the opportunity to express our appreciation for the honour our constituents have done us and to the Prime Minister for staying as long as she did. As you know, I have always been a staunch supporter of maintaining conventions, but on this occasion your stretching of the convention was rather a good idea. Thank you very much.