Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:17 pm on 24th February 2021.

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Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means 2:17 pm, 24th February 2021

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising this matter on the Floor of the House, and for giving notice of her intention to make this point of order, drawing to the attention of everyone this disgraceful situation.

Mr Speaker is aware that there is a great deal of concern about this among Members and, not surprisingly, their very hard-working and hard-pressed staff. I can see, and it may help the hon. Lady to know, that everyone present in the Chamber is in total agreement with what she has said. So am I, and so is Mr Speaker. As is apparent from our debates, covid-19 has resulted in a significant increase in constituency work, which is heavy at the best of times. As the hon. Lady said, Members and their staff are working flat out to help individuals and businesses in their constituencies who are facing very real and very serious problems. At such a time, it is hard to see how any responsible researcher could have thought that sending more than 1,000 spoof emails that added to this workload was a good idea; how any responsible ethics committee could have approved it; or how any responsible body could have decided to fund it.

Mr Speaker is extremely concerned about these matters, and he will be writing directly to those involved. I note also that it is possible for Members to withdraw their data from the study, and they may wish to do so. The hon. Lady asked me the simple question of how she could draw attention to this matter. She has done so, and her points, and those of every other hon. Member of this House, are taken into consideration by Mr Speaker —very seriously, in this matter.