On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. On Friday, the Secretary of State for International Trade visited Airbus at Broughton in my seat. Her office gave me 14 minutes’ notice before the meeting was due to take place—14 minutes. What can you advise us to do to ensure that the rules that apply to the rest of us also apply to Government Ministers?
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he intended to raise this point of order. I can say very safely and in a straightforward way that such behaviour by a Minister or, indeed, any Member is wrong —quite simply wrong.
As things have not been operating normally here this last year and a bit, Members may not be aware that there is a little booklet called “Rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons”, and I seriously advise everybody to look at it. It is not some ancient tome hidden away in the Library about how things worked in this ancient Parliament; it is bang up to date. It says quite clearly that as a matter of courtesy between one Member and another:
“You should notify colleagues whenever…you intend to visit a colleague’s constituency (except on purely private visits).”
I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is certain that this was not a private visit.
I take it that the right hon. Gentleman has informed the right hon. Lady to whom he refers that he intended to raise this point of order.
Excellent. Then the right hon. Lady will be aware of the situation. I simply say to all Members that it says in this booklet—and Mr Speaker takes this very seriously—that failing to inform colleagues of an intention to visit their constituency
“is regarded…as very discourteous.”
That is what I can say to the right hon. Gentleman now: it is discourteous for the Minister to behave in this fashion, and I am quite sure that an apology will be forthcoming.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Yesterday, the Government rejected the cross-party proposals from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee about the mineworkers’ pension scheme. Can I ask through you whether the Government will come to this Chamber and give a statement to explain their disgraceful decision to continue to take billions of pounds from the pockets of retired miners?
I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order, and for telling me that she intended to raise this point of order. I am not at all surprised, as I have heard her speak many times about this subject with passion in this Chamber. The hon. Lady will know, of course, that the decision about whether Ministers come to the House to make an announcement or to respond to a report is not a matter for the Chair, but I can advise her that there are various ways in which, as the Table Office will advise her, she may endeavour to bring a Minister to the Chamber to answer the questions that clearly to her and her constituents are important questions.
I will now suspend the House for three minutes so that arrangements can be made for the next item of business.