Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:36 pm on 18 March 2024.

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Photo of Dehenna Davison Dehenna Davison Conservative, Bishop Auckland 3:36, 18 March 2024

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Over the weekend, I saw on social media that a number of Labour Members had the good judgment to visit the beautiful Bishop Auckland constituency, and while I am grateful to the one Member who gave me notice of their visit, that was in stark contrast to the four Members—Angela Rayner, and the hon. Members for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson), for Blaydon (Liz Twist), and for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell)—who did not have the good judgment to follow your advice, Mr Speaker, and notify me as the sitting MP. I have let them know of my intention to raise this issue in the Chamber today. Could you advise the House once again on how we can ensure that Members give notice of a visit to another Member’s constituency?

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, House of Commons Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Speaker's Conference Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Client Board Committee

I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving me notice of this point of order and informing the Members concerned. The courtesies apply to any visits made in an official capacity. I know that election fever has taken over, but I remind the House once again that, as I said on 29 November and 22 January, when a Member intends to visit another constituency other than in a private capacity, they should make every reasonable effort to inform the Member representing that constituency. Boundary changes do not take effect until the next election, and in the meanwhile we must observe the convention of not involving ourselves with other Members’ constituencies. I have had complaints from Members on both sides of the House. Please do the right thing and stick to the conventions that we expect each other to follow.

Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Shadow Minister (Investment and Small Business)

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Thursday 14 March, during business questions, in response to a question from Jason McCartney about council spending, the Leader of the House said that Labour had a “legacy” of “vote-rigging” in Tower Hamlets. That is a false claim. I wonder if the right hon. Lady got her parties confused, as there was a widely reported case in 2015 in which the Election Commission and Richard Mawrey voided the mayoral election of 2014 under the Representation of the People Act 1983 on the grounds of corrupt and illegal practices, but that related to the activities of a party named Tower Hamlets First, and had nothing to do with Tower Hamlets Labour party or the national Labour party. Can you offer advice, Mr Speaker, on whether and when the Leader of the House can come to the House to set the record straight?

Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I take such matters extremely seriously, and in the past when I have misspoken or got a fact wrong, I have corrected the record. However, if I am guilty of anything in our exchange last Thursday, it is of underplaying the situation. The incident that the hon. Lady refers to did indeed involve an independent politician, although backed by Ken Livingstone. However, in the year 2018 alone, there were 40 new cases of corruption under the then Labour Mayor John Biggs, and the incident I referred to was Labour’s legacy because just a few weeks ago, Government inspectors were called in again to investigate Tower Hamlets. I fully understand it if the hon. Lady does not want to take my word for it, so I direct her to a letter written to her party’s national executive committee in 2016 about a local selection. It was written on behalf of members of the local Labour party. It said:

“on behalf of a number of distressed members the Tower Hamlets Labour Party who have been victims of intimidation, bullying, harassment and blackmailing by members of John Biggs’ campaign team;
some of whom are senior and leading figures of the local Labour Party”.

If she looks up the letter and sees who is signatory to it, she may be more persuaded.