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House of Commons Hansard
21 March 2018
Volume 638

  • On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In a parliamentary written answer on 12 January 2018 the Minister for the Armed Forces stated:

    “The UK will remain completely committed to European defence and security after we leave the European Union”,

    yet 48 hours ago it was announced that the UK is withdrawing from providing the battle group in 2019. Is there a way in which I can hold the Government to account on what appears to be a substantial policy change, which has not been announced in this place but has in fact been announced as a result of a leak to a newspaper?

  • I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he planned to raise this matter, and I know that he has been vigorous in pursuing the issue through parliamentary questions. As he knows, there are many other routes that he can pursue, including, I am sure, forthcoming Government statements on, for example, the European Council, but his concern will have been heard on the Treasury Bench and I am sure it will be taken back to the Department concerned.

  • On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. While we are on the subject of the European Union and defence, may I seek an assurance that Mr Speaker will not be emulating the example of the President of the European Commission, who has just sent a grovelling letter of congratulations to Vladimir Putin on his election victory, and that he will note instead how fortunate we are to be able to depend on NATO when the security and defence of this country is at stake?

  • I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I suspect that the Speaker will have very firm ideas, no doubt taking some advice from the right hon. Gentleman himself, about how he will respond to that election.

  • On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At Health questions yesterday I asked the Secretary of State when the independent reconfiguration panel report about the future of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, our local hospital, would be presented. The response was that it would be produced “in due course”, and the same response was given to my written question of last month. May I have clarification about the definition of “due course”: is that within a week, within a month, or after the next local elections?

  • I thank the hon. Lady for giving me notice that she wished to raise this matter, which I will answer now rather than in due course. I know that it can be rather frustrating for Members when Ministers say no more than “in due course” when asked when something is going to happen; however, I am afraid that the content of Ministers’ answers is for Ministers, not the Chair, and I cannot attempt to define what was meant by that. Again, though, I would say that the hon. Member has made her dissatisfaction clear, and it will have been heard on the Treasury Bench and, I hope, will be reported back.

    BILLS PRESENTED

    Northern Ireland (regional Rates and Energy) Bill

    Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

    Secretary Karen Bradley, supported by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Attorney General and Mr Shailesh Vara presented a Bill to make provision about the regional rate in Northern Ireland for the year ending 31 March 2019; and amend the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

    Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time today, and to be printed (Bill 188).

    Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Pay) Bill

    Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

    Secretary Karen Bradley, supported by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Attorney General and Mr Shailesh Vara presented a Bill to confer power on the Secretary of State to determine salaries and other benefits for Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly in respect of periods when there is no Executive.

    Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time today, and to be printed (Bill 187).