Points of Order

Protection of Civilians in Afrin – in the House of Commons at 8:35 pm on 12th March 2018.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South 8:35 pm, 12th March 2018

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice. One year ago today exactly, on 12 March 2017, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee published its ninth report, “Article 50 negotiations: Implications of ‘no deal’”. We also published several other reports last March, on Turkey and Russia, and our second report on political Islam, responses to which were received from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 20 July and published as soon as the Committee was re-established in September. We have received no response to the report on the implications of no deal.

I raised the matter with the Foreign Secretary when he came before our Committee on 1 November and reminded him that the Committee had not yet received the customary response within two months. He said:

“I think you are asking the wrong Department. I think it is DExEU that is drafting the response to your excellent report.”

I asked whether he had seen any draft, and he said:

“Not that I am aware of.”

Then he promised:

“I will make sure we take it up with DExEU”, and I said: “It is eight months.” He said:

“Thank you, I will make sure that we take it up.”

To date, despite expecting a response, the Committee has not received one from the Department for Exiting the European Union or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—one year after the report’s publication. Madam Deputy Speaker, can you suggest any course of action that can be taken? I am speaking on behalf of the Committee at the request of our Chair. What can we do to get the basic courtesy of a response from the Government on a matter of topical and vital interest to our country and our Parliament? How can we get the Government to respond, as they are supposed to do, to a Select Committee report?

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I thank the hon. Member for giving me notice of his intention to raise this issue on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Committee. It is certainly unsatisfactory that the Government have not replied to the Committee’s report, if indeed it was published a year ago. It is understandable that there is sometimes a delay during an election period—it should normally be two months—but clearly a delay of a year is something quite different. On what he can do about it, I hope that his concern has been noted on the Treasury Bench and that the Departments involved will now get together and resolve the issue, so that the Committee can have a response as soon as possible.

Photo of Hannah Bardell Hannah Bardell Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade and Investment)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek you advice. Earlier in the statement, the International Trade Secretary referred to my colleagues in the Labour party and the Scottish National party as being completely opposed to a Trade Remedies Authority. That is categorically incorrect. You will know as well as I do, Madam Deputy Speaker, that voting against badly developed policy or processes is very different from voting against a concept in its entirety. The Secretary of State did not serve on the Trade Bill. He is a doctor but perhaps he has not done his homework on this occasion. My colleagues in the Labour party and we in the Scottish National party tabled a number of amendments to improve the Trade Remedies Authority, its process and the way in which it was due to operate, none of which were taken on board or accepted by the Government. What can I do to ensure that the Secretary of State comes back to the House and sets the record straight?

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The hon. Lady has made very clear what she feels about the remarks that were made. The Bill will return to the House, and I suggest that she continue to express her view then. I am sure that she will do so and that the Labour Front-Bench team will do so as well.