Business of the House Debate

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Department: Leader of the House

Business of the House

Penny Mordaunt Excerpts
Thursday 22nd February 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op)
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I ask the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Penny Mordaunt)
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The business for the week commencing 26 February will include:

Monday 26 February—Consideration of a Humble Address following the return of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, followed by a general debate on farming.

Tuesday 27 February—Remaining stages of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill.

Wednesday 28 February—Second Reading of the Pedicabs (London) Bill [Lords].

Thursday 29 February—Debate on a motion on language in politics on International Women’s Day, followed by a general debate on Welsh affairs. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 1 March—Private Members’ Bills.

The provisional business for the week commencing 4 March includes:

Monday 4 March—Debate on a motion on risk-based exclusion following the recommendations from the House of Commons Commission, followed by a general debate on a subject to be announced.

Tuesday 5 March—Second Reading of the Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords].

Wednesday 6 March—My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his Budget statement.

Thursday 7 March—Continuation of the Budget debate.

Friday 8 March—The House will not be sitting.

Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell
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Yesterday was a very difficult day in the House of Commons, and for Mr Speaker personally, as he did his utmost to do what he thought was in the best interests of the House. We should all reflect on how we got to where we got to and accept our part in it. I welcome Mr Speaker’s desire to resolve these matters in discussions with us and others across the House, and I am sure that the vast majority of Members accept his genuine and heartfelt commitment to this House, and that he always has the best intentions in making his decisions.

I do not want to go over those issues now, except to say that I am grateful to Mr Speaker for seeking to enable the widest possible range of views to be expressed. No one could have foreseen events unfolding as they did. As it was—[Interruption.]

Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell
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As you say, Madam Deputy Speaker, it really is not a good look.

No one could have foreseen what happened. As it was, with the Scottish National party indicating that it would vote for our amendment, along with many Conservative Members, it was right that it should be put. The Government made an extraordinary decision to withdraw from the debate, raising a number of questions.

However, let us not forget that we were discussing the most serious of matters—those of life and death, war and conflict, and how we as a country, and as a Parliament, can play our part in bringing about a much-longed-for lasting peace, based on a two-state solution. It is to be regretted that at such a time we did not show ourselves at our best and that parliamentary antics were the story, not Parliament coming together with one voice, saying, “We want the fighting to stop, with an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and a meaningful process.” We can all reflect on that. My final reflection is that I hope this place will have more time, not less, to debate and discuss these profound matters. It should not be left to Opposition day debates and urgent questions to get them aired in the first place.

As we debate these important matters, a long shadow is increasingly cast over us: threats, intimidation and security concerns—[Interruption.] I mean, it’s remarkable. I know that this issue is of huge concern to Mr Speaker too; it is something that keeps him awake at night and is his first priority. I join him in praising the security team working to keep us safe. The legitimate lobbying of Members is part and parcel of our job and our democracy. That, at times, can be robust, and we can all disagree strongly, yet increasingly we are seeing a line being crossed.

I know that Members feel uncomfortable discussing their experiences for fear of attracting more unwanted attention, or because we do not want to come across as whingeing when we have such privileged positions, but during recess we saw another line being crossed, with the intimidation of a Member and their family at their family home. Reports that other organisations will be targeting the homes of MPs ahead of and during the election have caused huge anxiety. It is a totally unacceptable development. Oh, there is no noise for that one. It not only causes anxiety for MPs and their families, neighbours and staff; it is antidemocratic and is undoubtedly starting to affect people’s decisions and behaviours. That is wrong, and we must do more to address it. Does the Leader of the House agree that the police should take a much more hard-line approach to so-called protests outside the homes of Members of Parliament? Can she confirm that the police should use the powers they have to stop such protests, and say whether further guidance can be issued?

Does the Leader of the House agree that we need to look at the causes, not just the symptoms, of this sometimes toxic and febrile environment? First, does she agree that we have a duty to be careful with our language and in how we conduct ourselves and challenge one another, and that we should avoid stoking division? Next, does she agree that more should be done, with extra powers given, to regulate social media and elsewhere to tackle the spread of misinformation, disinformation, deepfakes and other dangerous material? With the rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia and hate, can the Leader of the House confirm that the Government will bring forward a hate crime and extremism strategy with urgency? Finally, does she agree that the defending democracy taskforce should have a broader remit to defend democracy from threats within our borders, and that we should take a more cross-party approach as we head towards what is likely to be a very testing general election?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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First, may I join with all those who have paid tribute to Alexei Navalny? In the wake of an assassination attempt, he returned to stand with his fellow countrymen against Putin’s tyranny, knowing full well what that might mean for him and his family. He put his country and his countrymen before himself.

I remind the House that the Government will again outline our position on the very serious matter of Israel and Gaza in a written ministerial statement soon.

I join the hon. Lady in her thanks to the security services, particularly those of the House authorities, for keeping us safe. I point to our record on adapting legislation to cope with the evolving nature of some pretty awful protests that not just MPs but the general public have been putting up with. There is also the work we have been doing in the House on social media, the new services in the House of Commons Library and the defending democracy taskforce. It would be nice to have the Opposition’s support on those matters, in particular on the legislation that we will bring forward.

I want to say that this House will never bow to extremists, threats or intimidation. It has not, it will not, it must not. I ask all Members not to do this House a further disservice by suggesting that the shameful events that took place yesterday were anything other than party politics on behalf of the Labour party.

Let me bring the House up to date. Two significant things happened yesterday, and I am not sure all hon. Members have clocked them. First, it fell to those on the Government Benches to defend the rights of a minority party in this House. If the hon. Lady cannot bring herself to reflect on the appalling consequences of her party’s actions yesterday—if she cannot rise above the narrow and immediate needs of her weak and fickle leader to fulfil her duties to this House as its shadow Leader—perhaps she might like to reflect on the damage her party has done to the office of the Speaker. I would never have done to him what the Labour party has done to him.

Secondly, we have seen into the heart of Labour’s leadership. Nothing is more important than the interests of the Labour party. The Labour party before principle; the Labour party before individual rights; the Labour party before the reputation and honour of the decent man who sits in the Speaker’s Chair; the Labour party before fairness, integrity and democracy; in Rochdale, the Labour party before a zero-tolerance policy on antisemitism; and—many of us knew this about the Labour leader; I saw it in his frustration at our country getting the best deal possible when we left the EU—the Labour party before country.

I must tell the hon. Lady that the people of this country do not have a copy of the Standing Orders of this House lying around their home, and they have not been chatting about parliamentary procedure over their cornflakes this morning, but they value fairness and they want the rights of all to be protected. They cannot abide bullies and cheats. They cannot abide people who trash our nation or fail to defend its interests, or the institutions that protect them. Government Members often rightly criticise the former leader of the Labour party, the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), for the things he stood for and for being wrong on matters, but I will say one thing about him: at least he thought he was right on them. The current leader of the Labour party is quite happy to do what he knows to be wrong. He puts the interests of the Labour party before the interests of the British people. It is the Labour leader who does not get Britain, and the past week has shown that he is not fit to lead it.

Bernard Jenkin Portrait Sir Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con)
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May I suggest that the priority of the House should be to command the confidence of our voters? I do not think that they, or indeed a majority in the House, feel that we resolved anything on the question of Gaza and Israel yesterday, so may I suggest to my right hon. Friend that the Government take up the suggestion made by the shadow Leader of the House and hold a debate on the subject in Government time, on a Government motion, so that the motion and every amendment can be considered? That would draw a line under this matter.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for his suggestion. It is sad that what happened yesterday with regard to the Speaker happened when the SNP was trying to hold an Opposition day debate on the most serious of issues. I heard what he said, and will be speaking to business managers.

Owen Thompson Portrait Owen Thompson (Midlothian) (SNP)
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Yesterday was incredibly disappointing, from our point of view. It was meant to be an Opposition day, and it was one of only three times in a calendar year when our party gets an opportunity to put forward its business to the House. I do not think that what we came forward with was a surprise to anyone. We were allocated an Opposition day four or five weeks ago, but totally understandably, it had to be moved when the Northern Ireland Assembly was reconvening. At that stage, there were conversations, and I was asked when people would have sight of the Gaza motion that we would bring forward, so it is quite extraordinary for anyone to suggest that they did not know we might come forward with a motion on that topic. When it got to our Opposition day—one of the very few times when we can put forward our policies—our voice was silenced: our motion could not be voted on. That is incredibly disappointing for me and a significant number of my constituents, and those of my hon. Friends and hon. Members from across the Chamber who wanted to support the motion.

Given that, in effect, we did not get an Opposition day yesterday, can we be allocated an alternative date? As others have said, we lost a significant amount of time at the start of the debate, and because of the Speaker’s decision, unfortunately we lost 40 minutes at the end of the debate. That meant that colleagues were cut short, and some withdrew from the debate. What consideration will the Leader of the House give to that suggestion—and, beyond that, to protection for the smaller parties, so that they are not simply railroaded for the political purposes of either of the bigger parties?

I echo the comments of the shadow Leader of the House, but it is critical that all Members of this place, whatever their position or status, be protected from bullying and intimidation. If reports from many media outlets are to be believed, it is entirely unacceptable that significant pressure was put on Mr Speaker to come to his decision yesterday. What steps will the Leader of the House take to investigate those very serious claims? If there is any substance to them, it is an affront to democracy that a party leader can direct decisions of the Chair of this place.

As you know, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am, as Chief Whip, involved in a number of conversations on how business comes forward. I had direct assurances that I would have a vote on the words of my motion yesterday. Everyone knew well in advance what the potential outcome would be at the end of yesterday’s debate, so to suggest that no one knew is utter nonsense. The reason we are in this position is that convention and the Standing Orders of this House were overruled, against the advice of the Clerks. That only happened because the Labour party wanted to be dug out of a hole. That is unacceptable.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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It is no secret to anyone who regularly tunes into these sessions that frequently I disagree with Scottish National party Members on every point that they raise, but they have a right to say these things on the Floor of the House and to debate their issues. If I were able to speak in yesterday’s debate, I would have been critical of how they brought forward their motion, and perhaps of their motives for doing so, but it was their right to do as they did. Our Standing Orders protect the ability of minority parties in particular to have those debates. Yesterday’s decision has serious consequences for minority parties and for the Government; for instance, our amendment was the only one that mentioned the violence against women and girls that has taken place. It is important to ensure that the rights of minority parties are protected. I am very sympathetic to the SNP being given more time, and to it being knocked off the Labour party’s allocation.

With regard to the serious matter of Mr Speaker, he came to the House yesterday and apologised. I know that he is meeting all parties on this matter, and I will meet him later today.

Andrew Rosindell Portrait Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con)
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The Leader of the House will be aware that I represent Romford in the London Borough of Havering, a historical Essex market town. Will she please arrange for a debate to take place on the Floor of the House about the fairness of local government funding? My borough is nearing bankruptcy because of the failure to have a fair funding system. We are also fleeced by the Mayor of London, who takes huge sums of money from places like Havering to fund the Greater London Authority. Can we have a debate about reform to local government in Greater London, and fairer funding for boroughs such as Havering—and hopefully a referendum, so that we can go back to being fully part of Essex?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I welcome my hon. Friend back to his place. He is quite right to raise the matter of pressures on his council, particularly those born of the actions of the Mayor of London, whose budget is in crisis. Local government has had about a 7% uplift across the board, but London boroughs clearly face local issues and particular pressures because of the Mayor’s mismanagement. My hon. Friend will know that the next questions to the relevant Secretary of State are on 4 March.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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I call the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee.

Ian Mearns Portrait Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab)
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I thank the Leader of the House for the business statement and, in particular, for announcing the Backbench Business debates for next Thursday. I think the Leader of the House will be aware that between now and Easter, the Backbench Business Committee has little or no time to allocate for debates in the Chamber beyond next Thursday, due to other business encroaching into Thursdays, including the Budget debate. I therefore wonder whether, if there is any additional time between now and the Easter recess, the Leader of the House could tip me the wink as soon as possible, and if she could tip us the wink, via the normal channels, when the date of the estimates day debates is known. We would really appreciate that, so that we can get the wheels in motion.

Of course, we continue to welcome applications for debates in Westminster Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our Committee has written to the Procedure Committee to ask for a change to Standing Orders, so that Westminster Hall debates on Thursdays can begin at 12.30 pm instead of 1.30 pm. It seems that the start time has not caught up with changes to the parliamentary timetable over the years; the change might facilitate better attendance at debates on a Thursday afternoon.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman, again, for his advert for the Backbench Business Committee. He knows that I am keen to give him time, and early sight of the allocation, so that he can fill in slots for debate, and will certainly make him aware of the dates for estimate day debates. I hope to be able to update him very shortly.

Jake Berry Portrait Sir Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is hard for market towns to thrive without an open bank? That is why I hope she will join me in congratulating the people and businesses in Bacup in Lancashire, as well as Link, Cash Access UK and the ATM network, which have worked with me to deliver on my pledge to bring banking back to Bacup. I hope we can find time in this House to have a debate on the new banking hub that is opening in a fantastic historical market town in Lancashire.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I congratulate my right hon. Friend and his constituents who have worked to ensure that these services continue. It is understandable, as banks look to cut costs, that they give up bricks and mortar, but that does not mean the disappearance of those vital services from our communities. Well done to all. I am sure that many hon. Members will ask him for advice in the future.

Ben Bradshaw Portrait Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)
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Devon and Cornwall police have been in special measures since 2022, after multiple failings. Last week, it was revealed that seven current and former women police officers are suing the force for failing to deal with rapes, beatings and psychological torture by male colleagues over a number of years. Could the Leader of the House arrange for a Home Office Minister to make a statement reassuring the people of Devon and Cornwall and serving women police officers that these allegations will be thoroughly and independently investigated, and any wrongdoing punished?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for raising this terrible situation. He will know that the next Home Office questions is on 26 February, and I encourage him to raise it directly with the Home Secretary there, but given the serious nature of this issue I will make sure the Home Secretary has heard what he has said today and that at the very least his office is updated.

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that the real issue of the events of the last 24 hours is not the party political shenanigans suggested by the shadow Leader of the House, but that this House appears cowed by threats of violence and intimidation? The mother of Parliaments appears weakened and diminished as a result. We have allowed our streets to be dominated by Islamist extremists, and British Jews and others to be too intimidated to walk through central London week after week. Now we are allowing Islamist extremists to intimidate British Members of Parliament. This is wrong. It has to stop. Will my right hon. Friend organise a debate on extremism and how we tackle this challenge, which is one of the central issues facing our generation?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend. British Jews are suffering a grotesque level of hatred and abuse, which quite frankly shames our country. He is absolutely right that there cannot be any tolerance or quarter given to individuals who threaten and try to prevent Members of Parliament conducting their business and honouring the obligations they have to their constituents to use their judgment when they come into this place. He will know that there is a tremendous amount of work going on with the House and within the Government to ensure that we protect democracy and protect all communities in Britain. I will make sure the Home Secretary has heard his remarks today.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
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This is quite a ticklish question. I am the longest-serving Member on the Opposition Benches and I have seen scenes like those we saw yesterday on, I think, only one other occasion. Indeed, it was shameful that the BBC had to blank off the proceedings at one stage because of the crude and vile language that was coming from one end of the Chamber. Can we seriously review what went wrong yesterday and get it sorted? I have every confidence —[Interruption.] Can I be allowed to say this? We should learn from what happened yesterday, rather than carry on the awful rowdy behaviour we saw.

As this is business questions, may we have an early debate on people up and down the country, mainly in the north of England but also in Wales, who have been fleeced by lawyers and legal companies over cavity wall insulation? People who have got bad cavity wall insulation are being absolutely ruined and are losing their homes because of predatory lawyers.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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On the hon. Gentleman’s first point, I do not think there is any doubt about what took place yesterday. It was completely shameful. I do not think there is any doubt about the procedural consequences—if Members are still in the dark about that, the Clerk of the House has provided some very clear advice. I do want to take the heat out of this. I think that we do need to reflect on what has happened, but I can tell him, as Leader of the House, that I will defend the rights of all Members to air views and the right voices of Opposition parties to be heard in this Chamber. It was to my great sadness that it fell to me yesterday to do that for this place. With regard to the other matter the hon. Gentleman raises, I shall make sure the Secretary of State has heard what he has said.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Madam Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a point of order that is germane to the proceedings.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
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In order to be here at this time, I have delayed giving a personal statement to the police on the latest individual who thinks that Members of this House are fair game to be harassed, stalked and threatened. It is clear that the lack of transparency over the reasons why we sometimes vote one way or another means that our votes are often wilfully misinterpreted and used to drum up hatred against parliamentarians, and that that perverts our democracy.

Let me make a suggestion. The European Parliament has many flaws, but in that place it is possible to place a written explanation of vote on the Parliament’s website, beside one’s voting record. The Opposition and Government spokesmen do it on behalf of their parties, and any individual Member can submit their own written explanation of why they have voted the way they have. It prevents the votes from being misinterpreted, it keeps Members safer, and it stops democracy being perverted. Will my right hon. Friend take that idea on board, stop the Opposition wilfully misinterpreting our votes on Opposition days, and help to keep our democracy safe?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am sure that I speak on behalf of all in the House when I say how sorry we are to hear that my right hon. Friend is having to endure the abuse that she has described. As I said at the start of my statement, this House will never kowtow to extremists or intimidation, and right hon. and hon. Members take their responsibilities in this place and to their constituents extremely seriously.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her very helpful suggestion, and I will certainly look at that. Let me just say, however, that while we can update practices and do other things in this place to help members of the public understand what is actually going on and draw clarity in relation to what our proceedings are focused on and what we are voting on and why, we are all obliged to act with honour and integrity and to support democracy in this place. I have no jurisdiction over Opposition attack ads, and if there is any reflection to be done following the last 24 hours, I ask the Opposition to reflect on that.

Wera Hobhouse Portrait Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD)
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May I add my thanks to the security services who are working so hard and effectively to keep us all safe? They did sterling work at a community meeting that I held last week in my constituency, and I thank them very much for that.

As the Leader of the House will know, I am a member of the Restoration and Renewal Programme Board. We all love this magnificent place of work and appreciate being able to work in this wonderful Palace of Westminster, but the structure of the place is not in a good way. As has been said during the programme board’s meetings, it needs open heart surgery. [Interruption.] I am talking about the structure of this place. For much of last year, my colleagues on the board and I were working hard to identify a shortlist of options for delivering restoration and renewal that we felt would command the support of Members throughout the House. Given all the work we have put in, it is frustrating that we are still no closer to making progress. We need to maintain momentum and get on with R&R. When and how will Members be updated on the various options and proposals so that we can move forward and restore the building? This is important work that needs to be done to keep us and everyone who works here safe.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady and all those who have been serving on both the programme board and the client board. The House will be pleased to know that great progress has been made. We have been able to get some real grip and granularity into the programme, and we also have a number of projects that we can get on with while we are looking at decant options and other things that will take more time. She knows that the next client board meeting will be on Monday and will look to take some of those decisions, but this House needs to be sighted on programmes that are going forward and on the options, and it must have a say in those too.

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con)
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The Leader of the House was right to withdraw from yesterday’s debate when it was clear that conventions were being broken. Those who put pressure on the Speaker to break with convention should reflect on their actions. If it was because Members of Parliament could be intimidated or at risk for how they voted, that is even worse and actually quite frightening. Having said that, the Speaker has said he made a mistake, and the House relies on us having confidence in the Speaker. We should move on now, and I would recommend that we do not put in motions of no confidence. Instead, we should restore our reputation as soon as possible by having a proper debate on a Government motion, whereby all amendments can be considered.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said and the tone he has struck in saying it. The Speaker came to this House last night, took responsibility for his actions and apologised. He is reflecting on what has happened, and he is meeting all parties. I hope that everyone who was involved in the events yesterday, and in the consequences of them, will also reflect on their actions and take responsibility for them.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
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My constituent Charlie McKerrow has campaigned for redress for victims of sodium valproate and fed into the Baroness Cumberlege report, which, as far back as 2020, recommended a compensation scheme. Another constituent, Gillian McQueen, has contacted me. She states:

“I will not be around forever, I need to know my children will be financially secure.”

The Patient Safety Commissioner has also recommended that compensation be paid, and has submitted a report to the Government. When will the Government design a compensation scheme for victims of sodium valproate? Will they confirm that it will be a UK-wide scheme, so that the children of my constituents get the compensation and support they deserve?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The report was recently published, and the Government have committed to respond to it very swiftly. He will know that the next questions to the Secretary of State are on 5 March, but I will make sure that the Government have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said and update his office.

John Hayes Portrait Sir John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con)
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The Leader of the House will have heard me ask the Prime Minister a question yesterday about the threat to food security posed by a string of monstrous pylons that will run down the east coast and through some of the most productive farmland in the country. Simultaneously, we face applications for huge solar plants on the best land we have, which feeds the nation; 30% of our fresh produce is grown on this land. Given her exemplary answer to me last week, will the Leader of the House, in that vein, arrange for a meeting with the relevant Secretaries of State and a delegation—inevitably led by me—of affected colleagues, so that we can immediately put an end to these threats to our food security?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my right hon. Friend for all the campaign work he is doing on this very important issue. It is an important matter not just for his constituents directly affected by it, because it has implications for our food security if large swathes of high-quality agricultural land are not being used to grow food and build this nation’s resilience. He will know that the next questions to the Secretary of State are on 14 March, but I will write this afternoon on my right hon. Friend’s behalf and encourage a meeting with a Minister and all colleagues affected by this issue.

Debbie Abrahams Portrait Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab)
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I have to say that I was ashamed to be a Member of Parliament last night. However, I understand from what the Leader of the House has said this morning that she agrees that we should observe the Nolan principles. I was going to ask for a debate on that matter, but given that the Chair of the Liaison Committee and others are calling for a debate on Gaza, could she confirm that there will be a debate on Gaza in Government time, which will allow all of us to vote?

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The issue of substance yesterday is a very important and serious matter. I can assure the House that there will be ample opportunities in the future to debate it on the Floor of the House, and I will announce further business in the usual way. I gently say to the hon. Lady that I am not ashamed to be a Member of Parliament, and I was not ashamed to be a Member of Parliament yesterday. I think if I were a member of the Labour party, I would be ashamed of that.

William Wragg Portrait Mr William Wragg (Hazel Grove) (Con)
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It is with regret that I have tabled early-day motion 412.

[That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.]

May I ask the Leader of the House about a procedural point, as my EDM continues to gather names this morning? Could she confirm from the Dispatch Box the process by which that motion can be brought as a substantive motion to the Floor of the House in order to be debated and voted on?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The Government will always listen carefully to the views of this House, and the Speaker needs to command its confidence. The future of the speakership is therefore a matter for Members of the House, not the Government, but we will of course listen to any requests for debates in Government time. Members will also know other routes by which they can secure a debate. I reiterate that Mr Speaker has made himself available to speak to all the parties, and I am sure that his door is always open to Members individually too.

Steven Bonnar Portrait Steven Bonnar (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (SNP)
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Yesterday I took the opportunity to pop into the Young Lives vs Cancer event, which was sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for East Dunbartonshire (Amy Callaghan). I met a very inspiring young person, Amy, who told me about the obstacles that young people face when they receive a cancer diagnosis. Closer to home, my dear Uncle Tommy has just received a terminal diagnosis and been given four months to live. He is facing that news with great courage and determination, and with his usual sense of humour. Would the Leader of the House like to join me in sending the House’s best wishes to both Amy and my uncle, Tommy Aitchison, who is back home in Viewpark? Could we have a debate on the Floor of the House about cancer outcomes for all people across all nations of the UK? The reality is that we must do better from the start to the very end for people who have a cancer diagnosis.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am sure that I speak for all Members of the House in sending our good wishes and support to the hon. Gentleman’s uncle and his loved ones following that very sad news. Cancer outcomes have improved dramatically over the past few years, thanks to our incredible science base, our third sector, which supports such research so critically, and of course the work going on in our NHS and the organisations that support it, but there is more to do. I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said today, and all our good wishes go to his family.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)
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Collectively, last night was not our finest hour, but Mr Speaker has apologised to the House for his role in what happened, showing evident contrition, and I think we should respect that. If we err in this Chamber, we are expected to apologise to him, and we hope that he will accept our apology in good faith. I think that we should pay him the same courtesy.

Speaking purely personally, I well remember everything that Mr Speaker did to help me, and all of us, when our great friend—my best friend—was murdered by, as it happened, an Islamic extremist, who told his trial that he did it because of how David voted in the House of Commons. Mr Speaker went the extra mile to help us all deal with that tragedy. Look at that plaque behind me.

We should put last night right by rerunning the debate in Government time. Mr Speaker is a decent man, as the Leader of the House said; he is not the villain here. We should rerun the debate, and he should be in his rightful place presiding from the Chair. We are lucky to have him, aren’t we?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said. I think there is no need for me to add to that; he said it very well.

Stephen Doughty Portrait Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
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It is rare that I find myself in complete agreement with the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) but, on a personal level, Mr Speaker—both as Speaker and as a Deputy Speaker—has always taken my security concerns, and those of other Members, very seriously.

Despite the House’s disagreements, I know that my constituents in Cardiff South and Penarth are not interested in debates about procedure; they are interested in the facts on the ground in Gaza. There is sincere concern about the suffering and horror that we have seen. Could the Leader of the House urgently provide some updated guidance for how all Members can respond to concerns raised by constituents who have family in Gaza? Many of us have been trying to deal with individual cases, as well as trying to support colleagues, and we need guidance for British citizens trapped in Gaza, for citizens of allies and other countries with which we have good diplomatic relations, and for those who do not have citizenship of other places. What can be done to support those who are, for example, being denied healthcare or are in perilous situations? We need urgent guidance so that we can all help to deal with the real issue, which is the suffering and horror we see in Gaza.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for bringing us back to the matter of substance. He will know that I have worked with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and particularly its consular teams, to ensure that Members can get information fast, particularly during recess, when dealing with cases in which people are in peril or immediate danger. I will touch base with the FCDO and with Members after business questions to ensure that all the advice and guidance is up to date.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have been pleased to help obtain additional funding for urgent A&E services at Northwick Park Hospital, on which many of my constituents rely for their healthcare. The Northwick Park, St Mark’s, Central Middlesex and Ealing hospitals now have a collective backlog of £56 million-worth of urgent repairs. It is clear that hospitals across the country are crumbling. We need to have a debate in Government time on what we can do collectively to ensure that we have the medical facilities in this country that the public rightly demand and that we have a duty to provide.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for his continued campaigning to ensure not only that his constituents have the healthcare professional uplift that they needed, and that they now enjoy, but that the buildings from which those professionals operate are fit for purpose. The next Health and Social Care questions are on 5 March. I know my hon. Friend is a passionate advocate on this issue, and I will make sure that the Secretary of State has heard what he said this afternoon.

Wayne David Portrait Wayne David (Caerphilly) (Lab)
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It is important that we discuss what happened last night in a moderate, reasonable and respectful way. We all have lessons to learn, but in order for those lessons to be learned we must be clear about what actually happened and the precise chain of events, so I would like to ask the Leader of the House a simple question: why did she decide to withdraw the Government’s amendment?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I direct the hon. Gentleman to the advice of the Clerk of the House and the consequences that stemmed from it. The result of yesterday’s decision is that minority parties would never be able to vote on their own motion in an Opposition day debate. That was a break with the procedure of this House, and I know there are ongoing conversations between Mr Speaker and the Deputy Speakers about how we can ensure that the office of Speaker is never again put upon in the way it was yesterday. We all know what happened yesterday. If the hon. Gentleman is not aware, he should talk to those on his Front Bench.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
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The most worrying thing about yesterday is that Members were being intimidated for what they say and how they vote, because of fears about their physical safety and that of their staff and family. Added to that, we have a climate of hard-line support that has seen antisemitism on the streets of our capital city. My constituents from the Jewish community feel intimidated about coming into the centre of London, so may we have a debate on how to address this intolerable climate? We cannot go on like this.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my right hon. Friend for raising this very important point. It is beneficial to air these matters and to ensure that we focus the services of the House and other resources, such as the police, on protecting Members of Parliament when they go out to perform their daily duties for the people who sent them here. I know that people often like to beat up on Members of Parliament and what they do, but we are sent here by the British people. What we do protects their interests, and we have to be free to use our judgment to vote in the way that we think is in their interests. Anything that interferes with that is an assault on democracy, and we need to ensure that Members and the public can go about their daily lives and do their duty for their country without intimidation or worse.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

If we are to believe Mr Speaker that his selection of amendments yesterday was to allow the widest possible debate, can the Leader of the House explain why he did not select the Lib Dem amendment? The reality is that the SNP was stitched up by yesterday’s deal with the Labour party. Does she share my incredulity that a Speaker who insists that we cannot speak in this place without wearing a tie now wants us to move on and modernise?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for affording me another opportunity to direct Members to the Clerk’s advice. Anyone who peddles the line that this decision would have led to a wider debate has not read that advice.

Dean Russell Portrait Dean Russell (Watford) (Con)
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I met the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers Association last year to discuss the challenges faced by our brilliant taxi drivers. The closure of Watford’s Pryzm nightclub in January is a devastating blow to the local taxi trade. How can I encourage ride- hailing companies such as Bolt to consider including drivers from the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers Association on their black cab scheme, which would contribute greatly to the local night-time economy?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising awareness and for demonstrating that a thriving night-time economy is vital for local taxi drivers, and the reverse is also true. I encourage him to seek a debate in which the Minister can hear his views; he knows how to apply for that. Our taxi drivers play an essential role in our communities, and he will know that the next Transport questions is on 21 March.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab)
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Many of my constituents, including members of the Sikh community and local gurdwaras, have written to me regarding their serious concerns about the safety of protesting farmers in their attempt to march towards the Indian capital, New Delhi. Yesterday, a protester was killed during a reported stand-off with police, where the cause of death was

“a bullet wound to the head.”

The Punjab health Minister confirmed that a second boy also sustained a bullet wound but “luckily he has survived”, with another 13 people being treated for injuries in hospitals.

The BBC have reported today that X—Twitter—admitted to being compelled, against their wishes, to take down the legitimate posts and accounts of activists. Does the Leader of the House agree that freedom of expression, the safety of protesters and their human rights must be protected? What representations have the Government made to their Indian counterparts to that effect?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that very serious situation. Of course, the Government support the right to protest in safety. I shall ensure the Foreign Office has heard his concerns and ask the relevant Minister to get in touch with his office.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Ian Liddell-Grainger.

--- Later in debate ---
Ian Liddell-Grainger Portrait Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset) (Con)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker; it is good to see you in the Chair. May we have a debate on rogue councils? Mid Devon District Council, which I have talked about many times, has now threatened its former leaders—other parties as well—with legal action for disputing what has gone on with the 3 Rivers development. There has been a lack of scrutiny and a lack of accountability. This is millions of pounds, not thousands. The chair of scrutiny, believe it or not, had a party on public funds—the chief exec is up to his neck in this—and the leader of the council, who, as we know, packs perfume for a living, is unprepared to do the work that a council leader should do, regardless of persuasion. Can we please have a debate in Government time about councils’ responsibility for dealing with situations that have gone wrong and not suing their former colleagues who are trying to do their job?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend is very diligent in pursuing these matters at all opportunities, including business questions. I suggest that the issue is perhaps best raised with the Secretary of State on 4 March in departmental questions.

Jim McMahon Portrait Jim McMahon (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab/Co-op)
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A lot has been said about the events of yesterday, but let us not forget that the outcome was that this Parliament has given a clear mandate on our position on Gaza— [Interruption.] That is very important.

Let me move on to a constituency matter. People in Oldham work very hard for a house for their family to live in and they expect security for that, but some are having the roof literally taken from over their heads, including Mr Potter through an agreement with A Shade Greener, a solar installation company. Thousands of people are affected by companies who were not clear about the terms and conditions and are now taking out loans on the properties, making remortgaging almost impossible. Can we have a debate in Government time on the impact of mis-selling in the solar industry?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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On the hon. Member’s latter point, I will certainly make sure that the Secretary of State has heard what he said, and he can put that to Ministers directly on 27 February. With regard to his former point, it is in the interests of the British people that democracy is protected. As I said, the interests of the Labour party are trumping democracy.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart (Hastings and Rye) (Con)
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Yesterday, we saw the politicisation of the situation in Gaza by SNP Members to engineer an issue within the Labour party—their Opposition day, their right. Labour Members were reportedly concerned about their security, as we are, but the Labour party frequently confects issues towards the Conservative side. We have seen Conservative Members called “scum” by a Labour Member, inside and outside this Chamber. We have been accused of starving children and dumping sewage in our seas. These are false assertions to generate intolerable hatred, death threats and abuse against Conservative MPs. Can my right hon. Friend tell me whether the Conservatives have ever asked for special treatment or convention to be overturned to protect us? Does that illustrate that both sides of the House, not just this side, need to take a responsible approach to debate in this House and public discourse, and in public life?

--- Later in debate ---
Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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My hon. Friend has made her point extremely well. Whether those debates were on storm overflows or free school meals, when Conservative Members faced very unfair slurs and intimidation, we did not ask that the procedures of the House be upended and put pressure on a decent man in the Speaker’s Chair to change those processes. That is because it is at the heart of our party that we put the interests of this country first. One of those interests is that democracy in this place is protected.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Last evening, we saw the best of this House in its ability to debate, and we also saw the worst of this House as it descended into farce. I think I speak for everyone in the Chamber now, and yesterday, when I express my deep sorrow that that was able to happen, given the content of what we were debating.

Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, it descended into farce because of a decision that you—and you alone—made to ignore the advice that was given to you by the Clerks. In doing so, on the Opposition day of the Scottish National party, my colleagues and I were denied the ability to vote on a matter which is of grave concern to us, and which, over recent months, we have sought to raise in this Chamber at every available opportunity. It ultimately turned into a Labour Opposition day. That, quite frankly, is not acceptable. As I have expressed to you privately, prior to today’s proceedings, we do not, on these Benches, believe that you can continue in your role as Speaker. We do not have confidence in your ability to do so. I would therefore welcome clarity, either from you or the Leader of the House, about how we can best facilitate the earliest possible vote in this Chamber to that effect.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I hope that he can see, in my actions yesterday, that I am a servant of this House, and that even though it may not be in the Government’s narrow interests to do so, I will protect the rights of all minority parties to be able to air their views in this place and ensure that the parties who are afforded Opposition day debates can have those debates in the fullest sense and have votes on their motions. We create the rules of this House and the Speaker serves at our behest. Given the range of views that have been expressed on the Floor of the House today—many interventions have been supportive of the Speaker, pointing out the pressures that were put on him yesterday—I think that we should take time to reflect. Mr Speaker has said that his door is open to all parties and individual Members, as is mine. But as I said, the Government will listen to this House. I am a servant of this House and I will do its bidding.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will also come in at this point. I reiterate that I made a judgment call that did not end up in the position where I expected it to. I regret it and I apologise to the SNP—[Interruption.] Just bear with me. I apologise to the House. I made a mistake: we do make mistakes and I own up to mine. We can have an SO24 to get an immediate debate because the debate is so important to the House.

I will defend every Member in this House. Every Member matters to me in this House. As has been said, I never, ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find a friend, on whatever side, has been murdered by a terrorist. I also do not want another attack on this House—I was in the Chair on that day. I have seen, I have witnessed. I will not share the details, but the details of the things that have been brought to me are absolutely frightening for all Members of the House, on all sides. I have a duty of care and I say that. If my mistake is looking after Members, I am guilty. I am guilty because—[Interruption.]—I have a duty of care that I will carry out to protect people; it is the protection that led me to make a wrong decision. With the risk being put on all Members at the moment, I had serious meetings yesterday with the police on these issues and on threats to politicians as we head towards an election. I do not want anything to happen again.

Yes, I will apologise, as I always will when I make a mistake as I did. I offer an SO24—that is within my gift and power—but I will also do whatever it is to protect anybody in this Chamber or anybody who works in this House. That is my duty of care.

Andrew Percy Portrait Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con)
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I was in Israel last week meeting with hostage families, survivors and friends. I actually felt safer in Israel than I do in this country at this moment in time. I have two reflections on that visit and on what happened yesterday. First, nobody in this House has any business or agency at all in telling the state of Israel where it is able to operate to seek to rescue hostages who are being raped by the Islamic terrorists who hold them. Secondly, if we have a rerun of yesterday’s debate, exactly the same thing will happen again and Members will not vote with their hearts because they are frightened and scared.

What do we expect? For months I have been standing here talking about the people on our streets who are a demanding deaths for Jews, jihad and intifada, as the police stand by and allow that to happen. Last night, a genocidal call, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, was projected on to this building. That message says no Jew is welcome in the state of Israel—in that land. This is going to continue to happen because we are not dealing with it.

Will the Leader of the House explain what will be different if we have a rerun of the debate? How will hon. Members be able to vote with their hearts and consciences? Too many will not do that at the moment because of the threats we are receiving—threats that in some cases are telling us to leave this country and that we or our families should be subjected to pain and death?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising this. I do not think there is any Member of this House who has not received threats, intimidation and, increasingly, death threats to them and members of their family. I have had many such threats and other hon. Members have spoken about their experiences on the Floor of the House. We can do many things with regard to physical security, and I again thank the House authorities for what they did yesterday. The matter he raises of the projections on to this building last night is being looked at by the Speaker’s Office, parliamentary security, the Metropolitan police and Westminster City Council, which will be responsible for pursuing prosecutions.

I say again to all Members of the House: we are elected to carry out our duty and take our responsibilities seriously. It is often a frightening task, but we cannot let those threats change this place or what we think is the right course of action. If we do that, they will have won. They will never win. We have to show courage and our constituents need us to show courage on these matters. We must vote and do what we think is right.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Ind)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Despite huge and growing public interest and concern over excess deaths, there remains a reluctance to engage with the issue, or in some cases even to acknowledge it, by Front Benchers across this Chamber. How convenient that this week the Office for National Statistics announced it has suddenly found a large increase in the UK population —not newborns, but older people. Where have these seniors been hiding for all these years? The effect of that increase will be to supress and mask the number of excess deaths. Can we have a debate on rebuilding trust in public health policy? We will not do that by fudging the figures at the ONS, which are now in complete conflict with those issued by other Government Departments, such as the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman is asking the Government Front Benchers for a debate while at the same time asserting that we will do everything we can not to have one. He knows how to apply for a debate. He has had many debates—Westminster Hall debates and Adjournment debates—and he is able to ask questions in the House. Many Members from all parts of the House take these issues extremely seriously. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will reflect on what has been said on the Floor of the House today about our conduct and what we say about other Members, and the security consequences.

Nickie Aiken Portrait Nickie Aiken (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

E-bikes and e-scooters are becoming increasingly popular as a mode of transport, but I am concerned that last year London Fire Brigade attended 155 e-bike fires—an increase of 78% on 2022—and 28 blazes involving e-scooters. Three people have lost their lives and approximately 60 people have been injured in those fires. Will my right hon. Friend consider a debate in Government time on e-bike and e-scooter safety and regulation?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important point. She will be aware that London Fire Brigade has issued new guidance, alongside the guidance put out by the Department for Transport, on safety for users of e-bikes and e-scooters. On 1 February, the Government published guidance on consumer safety when purchasing such vehicles. She is right to point to the fact that future regulation might be prudent in this area, given that we do not want people to have to focus on these matters in the way she has suggested.

Matthew Offord Portrait Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Mr Speaker, you are entirely correct that the level of intimidation against hon. Members is unacceptable, but many of my constituents have also faced a level of antisemitism never seen before. It is welcome that commitments to prevent antisemitism are heard in this place, but often actions undermine that commitment. My constituents remind me about the calls for jihad on the streets of London, but the Metropolitan police refusing to do anything about it, and about men driving through north London threatening to rape Jewish women, but the Crown Prosecution Service declining to prosecute them. How do I reassure my constituents that this place does not treat issues of interest to my Jewish constituents differently, when last night the Labour motion came after the moment of interruption and was nodded through without a vote?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I know hon. Members will be asking questions about what happened with last night’s vote. I have consulted the Clerks of the House and the vote stands because it is a matter for the Chair. I encourage colleagues to talk to the Clerks of the House to understand that more, but I fully appreciate the anger and disappointment from all sides of the House about people not being able to vote on particular motions or amendments last night and about what happened after the moment of interruption.

With regard to my hon. Friend’s substantive point, he is right. We have to end the climate that he describes. We have to ensure that every community in this country can feel safe. He will know that the Home Secretary has been doing work with police forces across the country, particularly with the Met, about the additional powers that they need to be able to tackle these issues and to identify the individuals behind this violence and intimidation. He updates the House on a regular basis and will continue to do so. We have to end this.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given the unprecedented breach of convention yesterday and the unseemly antics that we saw, despite the fact that we were debating the very serious slaughter in the middle east, will the Leader of the House make a statement to set out her view on the need for this House to have full disclosure on exactly what conversations took place between Mr Speaker and the leadership of the Labour party, amid grave allegations of the Labour party engaging in dark practices and possibly even blackmail before this unprecedented breach of convention, which has very sadly undermined confidence in our Speaker? Does she not agree that this is important in the interest of transparency? May I press her further and ask her to ensure that the SNP will be allocated another Opposition day, so that we can air our views, have our vote and express the concerns of our constituents about the slaughter in Gaza?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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The hon. Lady has put her views on the record and I thank her for that. As I have said, I am sympathetic to the SNP being given additional time. She will understand that I will announce further business in the usual way, but I am very happy to speak to the leader of her party group.

Thérèse Coffey Portrait Dr Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wish to associate myself with the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) and my hon. Friends the Members for Hendon (Dr Offord) and for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy). People are intimidated every day on the streets of this country. Having heard the heartfelt words of Mr Speaker yesterday, it is clear that he is worried about the intimidation of people in this place. We are reminded by the plaques of the people who have been murdered off the estate and on the estate. We walk into this Chamber under the shadow of world war two, when this Chamber was bombed by people who wanted to stop this Parliament sitting; the entrance to the Chamber is still there to remind us of that. The only time we went through the Lobbies yesterday was on my ten-minute rule Bill. It still surprises me that the Labour party encouraged Members to vote down a Bill that would have helped community transport and disability transport operators—I still find that astonishing.

To return to formal business, the “Draft Strategy and Policy Statement for Energy Policy in Great Britain” was laid yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. It is supposed to be subject to an affirmative resolution. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will know that I have been concerned about our not being able to debate national policy statements. I would be grateful if she could find time for a debate on this, given that it is subject to an affirmative resolution.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I will certainly raise my right hon. Friend’s latter point with the relevant Department and make sure that it has heard what she has said today. On her former point, it is absolutely right that we do all we can to protect Members of Parliament. It is absolutely right that we hold to account those who seek to intimidate or threaten individuals, elected Members of Parliament and those holding local government office, and that they face the full force of the law. However, we cannot adapt our processes and procedures in this place to not have difficult debates. We have to be able to debate difficult issues. We have to stand up for our constituents and make the judgments that we think are right. If we are adapting the procedures of this House because we are fearful of the consequences of standing up and saying what we think is right, then democracy has failed and the extremists have won. We must never do that and, as long as I am Leader of the House of Commons, that will never happen.

Ruth Jones Portrait Ruth Jones (Newport West) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Leader of the House may be aware of Newport Wafer Fab in my constituency, which is part of the south Wales semi-conductor cluster. It is currently waiting for a new owner, but the transition process is in limbo because the site is awaiting a decision by the Cabinet Office under the National Security Act 2023. This process has been dragging on for months. I have written to the Secretary of State in the Cabinet Office twice and the Secretary of State for Wales, and I have met with a number of Ministers. I have had no response to my letters. Can the Leader of the House advise me on what my next step should be, as staff morale at the site is plummeting and jobs are in danger of being lost with this ongoing delay?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady for raising that matter. If she gives me further details, I will certainly chase up the correspondence. Even if Departments have to send out holding letters, it is important that those letters meet the deadlines that we expect in this place. She will know that the next questions to the Minister for the Cabinet Office will be on 29 February. She will also know that it is important that these processes are gone through thoroughly. I encourage her to raise this matter in the next question session, but I will also make sure that we chase it up on her behalf.

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

There are businesses that want to establish themselves in my constituency or to extend their existing premises, but they are being told that it will take years to get a grid connection. In addition, there are concerns up and down the constituency about plans for pylons. Can we have a debate in Government time about the role of the National Grid?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for standing up for his constituents and pursuing their interests in that respect. We want people to be able to get on and create businesses and to do all that their ambitions and their calling require of them. He will know that the next question session in which he can raise this matter will be on 27 February. I encourage him to do that, but I will also make sure that the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero has heard what he has said.

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Schools in my constituency are far more likely to travel to the Scottish Parliament for educational enrichment than to this place. After the events of last night, when the third party’s voice was silenced due to bullying and intimidation and for no other reason, who can be surprised? The UK Parliament Education Centre subsidises travel by up to 75% of the cost, up to a value of £2,000. However, unsurprisingly, travel costs from Scotland are significantly higher and, as a consequence, the vast majority of schools have to cancel, including two from constituency just this week. Can the Leader of the House provide for a statement to be made on how we can fix that inequity?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that question. He will know that the Finance Committee of the House recently did a review of the travel subsidy for different parts of the country, and there are some changes that will be made to that with regard to school visits and the opportunity for people from all parts of the UK to come to this place. I suggest that he speaks to the Chair of the Finance Committee about that. She sits on the House of Commons Commission and her recommendations come to us.

Andy Carter Portrait Andy Carter (Warrington South) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Homeowners on two recently built housing developments in my constituency were promised a GP surgery. The development at Appleton Cross has been completely finished and the section 106 money paid across, but there is no GP surgery. That is putting extreme pressure on the existing facilities that are provided elsewhere in Warrington South. May I ask the Leader of the House for a debate in Government time to look at how we can ensure that, when planning permission is agreed and the infrastructure that is needed to go with it is agreed, the local authority responsible for approving that planning permission ensures that the GP surgeries are delivered as required?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising the matter on behalf of his constituents. He will know that in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 we introduced powers to create a new infrastructure levy to replace the existing system of developer contributions. It aims to generate more funding for infrastructure such as he mentions—GP surgeries and shops, for example—to mitigate the impact of new development and ensure that the needs of new people moving into the area and increasing the population size are served. We have committed to further consult on the design of the levy before drafting regulations. He may wish to raise the matter directly with the Secretary of State on 4 March.

Mary Glindon Portrait Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab)
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Will the Leader of the House kindly join me in congratulating North Tyneside’s Benton Dene Primary School on topping the national leaderboard for active travel when taking part in the charity Living Streets’ WOW walk to school travel tracker? Working with Living Streets and North Tyneside Council since last October, Benton Dene School has reduced traffic outside the school gates and reached an average walk to school rate of 57%. Will she also ask Transport Ministers to support Living Streets’ call for a nationwide default ban on pavement parking to create safer routes for walking and wheeling to school, as it is now over three years since the Government consulted on the issue?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I am sure that we all join the hon. Lady in congratulating her local school. It is a tremendous achievement, and I thank her for raising it. Not only will I ensure that the Secretary of State for Transport hears her asks on pavement parking, but I will encourage him to send a letter to her local school congratulating it on its achievements.

Ben Spencer Portrait Dr Ben Spencer (Runnymede and Weybridge) (Con)
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I am very proud to represent historic Runnymede and Weybridge. I was in the Chamber yesterday evening when two motions of great concern were passed without a Division. I disagree with SNP Members on many, many issues, but I respect their position in this place as elected Members of Parliament. Right now it is on the record that the motions were passed unanimously, which I believe, given the clear vocal opposition, misrepresents the will of Parliament. [Interruption.] Does the Leader of the House share my deep concerns about the implications of that for our democracy and the rule of law, and does she agree that Opposition days must be upheld and respected in line with convention—[Interruption.]

Ben Spencer Portrait Dr Spencer
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Does the Leader of the House agree that Opposition days must be upheld and respected in line with convention as an essential part of the democratic operation of this House, and will she work to remedy the injustice of yesterday’s debate?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I agree with my hon. Friend, which is why the Government took the actions that we did yesterday. It is not to the Government’s advantage to facilitate debates that are likely to be critical of the Government, but it is in the interests of our democracy that we do so, which is why we did what we did to protect the rights of minority parties in this place. As I said in response to earlier questions, I fully appreciate the frustration at how yesterday’s vote was recorded. I have raised it with the Clerks and taken advice. It is a matter for the Chair, and I am afraid to tell my hon. Friend that it will stand as it is.

Andrew Western Portrait Andrew Western (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab)
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The Kellogg’s factory in my constituency is an iconic reminder of the industrial heritage of Trafford Park. Like so many of my constituents, I was shocked and saddened recently to hear of parent company Kellanova’s plans to close the factory. Given the devastation that this will cause not just to my local community but particularly to the 360 Kellogg’s employees who now face an uncertain future, could we have a debate in Government time on how we can safeguard manufacturing jobs in this country, now and in the future?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I encourage the hon. Gentleman to raise the issue with the Secretary of State at the next Question Time on 7 March. I will also write on his behalf, if he has not already done so, to the Minister overseeing the redundancy service and the Minister for Employment in the Department for Work and Pensions. They will be able to provide his office with support in ensuring that the interests of his constituents are taken care of, and that they avoid hardship.

James Grundy Portrait James Grundy (Leigh) (Con)
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We all face difficult votes in this House. I saw the consequences of one such vote when, after an Opposition day debate some time ago, my elderly parents were threatened with being stabbed to death. This is the first time I have revealed that information publicly. I know that colleagues on both sides of the House have faced similar threats recently.

It is very important, though, that when we vote on difficult matters we all do so under the same set of rules. Yesterday, many Government Members felt that changing the order of business meant that while, entirely legitimately, Labour MPs were protected from potential threats of violence and murder, Government Members were consequentially more exposed to such threats. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we cannot continue like this? Such breaches of procedure are unacceptable. The right of everyone in this House to vote in the way they wish, and their security, should be equal across all Benches.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I completely agree with my hon. Friend, who has said it very well. I hope that all Members of this House have got that message. With regard to intimidation, as I say, it is not just about what is directed against us; it is about what is directed against members of our family, and perhaps most appallingly, against hon. Members’ children. There have been many instances of that. We will ensure that individuals who make such threats face the full force of the law. While others reflect on what has happened, particularly in the last 24 hours, those who are, while not committing a crime, encouraging and giving licence to people on social media ought to reflect on their behaviour as well.

Ashley Dalton Portrait Ashley Dalton (West Lancashire) (Lab)
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I have been in this place for about a year, and have spent almost all of it trying to get some progress on agricultural flooding and water management boards. The issue is of grave concern to my constituents in rural West Lancashire. A statutory instrument was expected on water management boards last summer. We have not seen hide nor hair of it. In answer to a written question, the Secretary of State said that it will come after a consultation, but that has not been scheduled. Can the Leader of the House advise me of how this relatively simple instrument can be expedited so that my constituents can move forward on this pressing matter?

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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Lady for her diligence in pursuing this matter for her constituents. She can obviously raise the matter at the next Question Time, but I sense her frustration, and will write to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ask him to update her office.

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes (Clwyd South) (Con)
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In view of the Labour party hijacking the SNP’s Opposition day debate yesterday, can we have a debate in Government time to discuss the role of the Standards and Privileges Committees or the Procedure Committee, and whether there should be an inquiry into the role of the Leader of the Opposition and his chief of staff, and the Opposition Chief Whip, in Mr Speaker overruling the advice of the Clerks on yesterday’s Opposition day debate?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I refer my hon. Friend to the response I gave to the shadow Leader of the House, the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell). I think that the Leader of the Opposition needs to reflect on what he did yesterday, as well as what everyone else will have been doing.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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Madam Deputy Speaker, this Tuesday, in responding to my point of order in relation to Sinn Féin’s Short money, your fellow Chair, the right hon. Member for Doncaster Central (Dame Rosie Winterton), suggested that I raise the matter during business questions; I do so now on her advice.

As the House is aware, the Northern Ireland Assembly has been re-established. Previously, the salaries of Members of the Legislative Assembly had been reduced for a period of at least two years. The clear rationale was that if elected MLAs were not doing their job, they should not receive full pay. The general public saw the sense of it, and supported that decision.

Since the establishment in 2006 of representative money, as a scheme analogous to but separate from Short money, over £11 million has been paid to a small number of Sinn Féin MPs. Sinn Féin does not attend debates or scrutinise, amend or vote on legislation, so money paid from the public purse for that purpose is not used to that end. That has been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell), by my party leader, my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley (Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson), by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Carla Lockhart) and by me and other colleagues. Just when will Sinn Féin moneys be reduced, and when will necessary steps be taken in this Parliament to stop the continued and unacceptable abuse of representative money?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for getting that on record. I have had some correspondence with other Members about it. He will know that it is primarily a matter for the House. He will have helped his particular point of view by getting it on record today, and I have listened to it.

Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con)
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Research shows that those who intentionally inflict cruelty on animals are often also guilty of offences such as child abuse and domestic violence and involved in bullying and organised crime. Can we have a statement from the Home Secretary on the establishment of an animal offenders register?

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Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for all his work on animal welfare, for which he is very well known. He can ask that of the Home Secretary directly on 26 February. It is an interesting suggestion—such abuse is, of course, a clear indicator of further and more serious crimes to come.

Anna Firth Portrait Anna Firth (Southend West) (Con)
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I place on the record my thanks to Mr Speaker for returning to the House last night, for the clear explanation and heartfelt apology that he made then, and for his comments today. I was in the House from 1 o’clock through to the end, and I spoke in the debate. I came here to represent my constituents, but I was unable to. That was a shame on us all. If there was any interference in the process, it has to be looked into.

Mr Speaker came to the House, and has apologised twice. On behalf of the people of Southend, that apology is accepted. I came into this House recently under very difficult circumstances, and Mr Speaker has been a great help and support, and has shown me and the Amess family a great deal of kindness. However, the point remains that if long-standing rules and conventions were put aside because of Mr Speaker’s concern about Members of this House, and if the ultimate cause of that—this is not what he said—is Islamic extremism, that is a very serious situation, and we must, as a House, look into it. We must have an inquiry on exactly why those rules and conventions were not abided by yesterday, because those rules have been developed over many centuries not just to protect us but to protect our democracy. That did not happen yesterday, so I repeat the call for an inquiry into exactly what went on yesterday.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I thank my hon. Friend for getting her views about the Speaker on the record; she has done it well, and I am sure that he would appreciate it. I reiterated at the start of my response to the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) that if we are to do better than we did yesterday, we must focus on the reasons why things were done. This House has never kowtowed to terrorists. Members of this House will never be dissuaded from what they think is the right course of action by intimidation, bullying or threats, and that is not what happened yesterday. What happened yesterday was that the procedures of this House were corrupted to advantage one party, and to disadvantage Members on the Government Benches and minority parties.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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We have to be clear about that, and I will tell you why—[Interruption.]

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. I think the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty) is trying to make a point of order. I do not know what he is trying to say.

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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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No—[Interruption.] Order. Please, it really is time to calm down and take the heat out of this. Let us calm down. I did not hear what the Leader of the House said.

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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I fully understand why right hon. and hon. Members have raised the point about intimidation, but they should reflect on the message that that sends to people outside the Chamber. Members of this House will not be moved from carrying out our duty to the people who send us here by intimidation and threats outside; that has not happened. That is not the reason why what happened yesterday was done. We should do everything we can to ensure that that remains the case. It is the case, it will be the case, and it must be the case.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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That concludes the business question.

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Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
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The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point. As it happens, I recall the first of the incidents that he describes because I was in the Chair; I called him, but he was not here. Knowing that he is an assiduous attender of this Chamber, I was very surprised. He then told me that he had not been here because he did not know that his question had been grouped. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Members ought to be contacted, and that the Department ought to be sure that Members have received the message that their question has been grouped. Grouping does indeed happen with the permission of the Chair. It will be stopped if it is not properly carried out, I should think. Is the Leader of the House happy with that, or does she want to add anything?

Penny Mordaunt Portrait Penny Mordaunt
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Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have heard what my hon. Friend said, and you are absolutely right. If he wants to give me the details of the Department, which I am confident is not the Ministry of Defence, I will deal with it.