Point of Order

– in the House of Commons at 2:38 pm on 23rd September 2020.

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Photo of Wendy Chamberlain Wendy Chamberlain Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Wales), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 2:38 pm, 23rd September 2020

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We were informed yesterday that the Paymaster General’s calls are set to resume. Members will remember that those calls were used earlier this year, while the House was not sitting due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many Members were very concerned by the lack of opportunity for scrutiny during that period, and that concern is ongoing. I am still struggling, as I know other hon. Members are, to get a response from Ministers from many Departments, including the Treasury, and I am concerned about what the resumption of these calls implies. I am sure that Members from across the House will agree that any resumption of the calls must be in addition to existing scrutiny, rather than a substitute that allows Ministers to be required to come before the House less frequently.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I should be grateful if you would offer guidance on how best to seek assurances from the Government that they are committed to parliamentary scrutiny, and that the resumption of these calls does not herald new limitations on the mechanisms available to Members of the House to hold Governments to account.

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising that point of order. The Paymaster General, who of course is a Cabinet Office Minister and does an excellent job in keeping Members from all parties updated, and has done throughout the difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic, is resuming the calls to augment the scrutiny that, quite rightly, Ministers will be exposed to at this Dispatch Box, as we all seek to ensure that we do the right thing by all our constituents at this inevitably testing time.

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

I thank the hon. Lady for that point of order. I am very glad that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was present to respond, and I hope that that will give her some reassurance.

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for three minutes.

Sitting suspended.

Virtual participation in proceedings concluded (Order, 4 June).