Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 2:33 pm on 26 March 2024.

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Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 2:33, 26 March 2024

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I would like to raise a point of order regarding last night’s debate on the motion to appoint an acting Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Following an intervention from Mr Wragg, I wish to express the Opposition’s concern. At the root of our concern is the lack of information on why No. 10 has not provided its seal of approval, when it has been cited that the House should lead on the role. We were told that the Prime Minister has had the nomination since January. As the Minister said, the process must be followed thoroughly and diligently, but some questions remain.

What processes have yet to be completed? Has a representative from No. 10 and the chair of the appointment committee met to discuss the delay? If so, what were their conclusions? Given that Parliament is the lead on this appointment, when will Members receive an update? As Members from across the House liaise with the ombudsman regarding constituency queries, this issue is important. Mr Deputy Speaker, could you please advise on whether you have received notice of an upcoming ministerial statement on this matter in the first week back after the Easter recess? That would be three months after No. 10 received the committee’s recommendation.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Would it be in order to reveal the identity of the person concerned? I notice that that did not happen yesterday, but it is well known who that person is and how well qualified he is for the post for which he has been recommended.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker

I thank both hon. Gentlemen for their points of order, and I thank Nick Smith for giving notice of his. While the House Administration does take the lead—

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker

Order. I am on my feet.

While the House Administration does take the lead in the appointment process, it is not a matter for the Chair of the House. The hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent has put his point on the record, and I am sure that the House authorities will be able to advise him on how to pursue the matter further.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The law around marriage is part of my portfolio as a shadow Justice Minister, but I would like to seek your advice this afternoon—don’t worry, it is not marital advice that I require. Given my portfolio, would it be in order for me to invite you and perhaps Members from across the House to congratulate a very special couple, who will mark their 70th wedding anniversary tomorrow? They are particularly special, as they are my own mum and dad, Jean and John Cunningham, who were married all those years ago. I am extremely proud of them for reaching this remarkable milestone, and I am pleased that I have been able to share this news with the House.

Hon. Members::

Hear, hear.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is outrageously out of order—[Laughter.] But I am equally sure that the whole House will want to associate themselves with his remarks about his mum and dad. I add my personal congratulations as well.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit)

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Last Thursday, the Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Baker, made a statement announcing the laying of regulations for the implementation of the Windsor framework, which he stated was part of the Government’s commitment to safeguard the Union—although I think the two things are contradictory, given that the Windsor framework actually divides the Union. In his statement, he sought to justify the fact that Northern Ireland would be subject to some aspects of EU law, and he gave the example of its exclusion from the ban on live exports of animals, which I opposed in this House.

In his statement, the Minister claimed that the Government had offered to establish a sectoral roundtable to consider analysis of the proposed trade ban, but this invitation has not yet been taken up by any of those proposing the ban. I was the one who moved the motion in the House. The Minister in the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs had written to me to suggest having a roundtable with the Ulster Farmers Union, and he indicated that the Government had statistics that showed why Northern Ireland should be excluded from the ban. I wrote back to him on 30 January, asking for that information to facilitate the discussion at the roundtable.

Despite that, the Minister claimed that there was no response given, so he gave the impression that I was not prepared to challenge, debate or discuss the implementation of EU law in Northern Ireland. I want to know how that can be corrected. I have corrected it on the record today, but I would like the Minister to correct the wrong information that he gave in his statement. It is quite clear that a letter went to the DEFRA Minister to which he has not responded, either by supplying information or by setting up a date for a meeting so that it can be made clear that there is no unwillingness to discuss the implementation of EU law in Northern Ireland with the relevant Minister.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving at least some notice of his point of order, although I have to say that he has gone rather wider than the information with which I was originally provided. I hope that he informed the Minister that he intended to refer to him in the House.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker

Thank you. That is not actually a matter for the Chair, but the right hon. Member has put his case on the record.