Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 14th June 2021.

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Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough 3:31 pm, 14th June 2021

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Have you received notice from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care that he intends to make a statement on the covid-19 regulations earlier than advertised? I ask this because it is a long-standing principle of this House that major changes in Government policy are to be announced to Parliament first, and I can think of no more important policy announcement than changes to regulations that restrict the freedom of the British people. It appears that the Government are planning to hold a major news conference on the covid regulations at 6 pm, but the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is not making his statement to the House until 8.30 pm. That is not only a clear breach of parliamentary convention; it is also a breach of the ministerial code. The code states:

“When Parliament is in session, the most important announcements of Government policy should be made in the first instance, in Parliament.”

What makes the matter even more concerning is that about 30 minutes ago the media were given an embargoed copy of the statement. So the media have the statement in advance, there will be a public press conference at 6 pm, and then the last people to know about the changes to the regulations will be Members of Parliament. That is clearly very disrespectful to Parliament, and probably a contempt of Parliament.