Points of Order

Part of Rail Update – in the House of Commons at 5:53 pm on 5th February 2018.

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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, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission 5:53 pm, 5th February 2018

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order and for her courtesy in giving me advance notice that she wished to raise this issue.

What I would say—and it is very commonplace for me to get points of order of this type—is that I understand her concern to achieve a meeting with Ministers on a matter which is of importance to her constituents. Clearly, she had that prior commitment. It is customary, but not to be guaranteed, that a commitment by a Minister will tend to be honoured by his or her successor. While I would hope that Ministers would be even-handed in their response to Back-Bench Members on both sides of the House, I have nevertheless to say to the hon. Lady that it is not for me to tell Ministers whom they should meet; it is for an incoming Minister to decide whether to continue with a meeting arranged by his or her predecessor.

If a Minister goes to an area and is principally concerned to have what would be called a political meeting with members of his or her party, that may be exceptionally irritating to a Member who is not a member of that party, but it is not, of itself, illegitimate. There is no bar on Ministers undertaking party political activity alongside their ministerial duties.

All that said, I think that this place works best when there is a basic courtesy and respect from one Member to another. Paul Maynard, who was previously the serving Minister, has always struck me as a most courteous fellow, but, looking at the Treasury Bench, I have known the Secretary of State for at least two decades, and we have always enjoyed very cordial relations—he is a most courteous chap. As for Joseph Johnson, well, I think my cup runneth over—the hon. Gentleman is personable to a fault. I cannot understand why neither of them is willing to meet the hon. Lady—I would have thought that they would think it a most worthwhile enterprise.