Points of Order

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:55 pm on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 12:55 pm, 6th March 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Next Tuesday, the House will vote again on the withdrawal agreement. The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was due to appear before the Committee yesterday but cancelled for perfectly understandable reasons—he was in Brussels with the Attorney General negotiating. We of course accept that, but we have offered him other times this week and next Monday afternoon, none of which have been accepted so far.

While we understand that negotiations will continue, I was very surprised to learn this morning, at a meeting of the Committee, that the Secretary of State’s office had offered times to individual members of the Committee for him to meet them later on Monday afternoon, but had not so far confirmed that he would be available to appear before the Committee. Given that next Tuesday we may well be considering further legal assurances related to the withdrawal agreement, the Committee is absolutely clear that we must hear from him before we vote on Tuesday.

I would not normally raise a point of order on such a matter, Mr Speaker, but given its urgency and the profoundly unsatisfactory state of affairs, what advice can you give the Committee so that we can secure the Secretary of State’s attendance—which is his job—before we vote next Tuesday?