Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 12:34 pm on 7 February 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 12:34, 7 February 2019

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will not have heard my earlier exchange with the Secretary of State for International Trade when I asked him to provide the House with the information provided to businesses that was referred to in the Financial Times. As I understand it, businesses have been provided with a report on the progress being made on all the different trade deals that the United Kingdom is seeking to secure. The Secretary of State claimed that if I had only been at the International Trade Committee yesterday, I would have heard the answers there, because the matter was covered “extensively”.

I have now been able to listen carefully to the hour’s worth of evidence that the Secretary of State gave during that excellent inquisitorial exercise led by Angus Brendan MacNeil, and the Secretary of State made no reference whatsoever to the information that was provided to business, nor did he offer to provide it to the Committee. Madam Deputy Speaker, what can I do to ensure that the Secretary of State comes back to the House at the earliest opportunity to put the record straight and, perhaps much more importantly, to provide the House with the information that he has been willing to give to business but is apparently unwilling to give to Members of this House?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. He will appreciate that a difference of opinion of between a Minister and a Member is fairly routine. That is what we are here for. It is all about argument, accountability and so on, so it is not a total surprise to the House that there has been a difference of opinion about whether information was given or not given. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that the Chair happily can take no responsibility for what a Minister says when he is at the Dispatch Box or, indeed, in a Select Committee.

The right hon. Gentleman asks me how he might remedy the situation. He has partially remedied it by raising his point of order which, although not a point of order for the Chair, has allowed him to draw the matter to the attention not only of the Chamber but of the Treasury Bench. I am sure that his concerns will be repeated to those whom he criticises. There will of course be other opportunities for the right hon. Gentleman to ask questions about the matter, and he knows well, as a former deputy Leader of the House, just how to do that.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In a good introduction to business questions this morning, the Leader of the House mentioned in passing something about National Pizza Day. She did not say anything else about pizza, and it was not an advertisement, but it could have led people to believe that she was extolling the virtues of something that is closely linked to obesity. In addition, many pizza delivery companies utilise cheap labour, and people on unlicensed motorcycles are being killed. I just wanted to ensure that the Leader of the House was not endorsing a product that is linked to obesity.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The hon. Gentleman has raised and listened to many points of order over many decades of service in this House. As I have just explained to Tom Brake, the Chair has no responsibility for what Ministers say, and the Chair definitely has no responsibility whatsoever for pizza—although my teenage son would say that I quite often have some responsibility for pizzas in a personal or maternal capacity. The hon. Gentleman has drawn to the attention of the Chamber and of the Leader of the House his concerns about the effects of pizza not consumed in moderation. I fear that I can give him no further comfort than that.