Points of Order

– in the House of Commons am 1:48 pm ar 7 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (AI and Intellectual Property) 1:48, 7 Chwefror 2024

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Earlier this week, the Government published a written statement as a response to the consultation on their White Paper on artificial intelligence. However, this statement was very limited in detail. This is in stark contrast to both the US and the EU, both of which have set out clear responses to the challenges and opportunities of AI. The Government’s written response failed to set out the full scale of opportunities to use AI in areas such as medicine, and failed to tackle concerns about safety such as those raised recently about deepfakes. Can you advise me on how I and other Members can ask Ministers to explain this very limited response, and on what opportunities there might be for us to raise this matter in the House?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

Yes, I can advise the hon. Gentleman, but he does not have to raise the matter with the occupant of the Chair to get that advice. We have excellent Clerks in the Table Office, the Journal Office, et cetera, who would happily give him that advice. He can submit a request for an urgent question, he can apply for an Adjournment debate or he can table a question to the relevant Minister, and I am quite sure he will get further answers to his questions.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Ceidwadwyr, East Worthing and Shoreham

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. During Prime Minister’s Question Time there was a distinct sense of déjà vu when Daisy Cooper, whom I have notified of this point of order, asked a question about Eastbourne District General Hospital, which is nowhere near her constituency and is rather closer to mine. It repeated an attack on the hospital by her leader, Ed Davey, last year, when I gather that he was forced to apologise to the House for misinformation—something that we do not often hear from him.

The hon. Member for St Albans claimed—the claim was also put out by the Liberal Democrat candidate who was recently on the same BBC programme as me and, again, it had to be put right—that the paediatric department at Eastbourne District General Hospital is being downgraded. This has led to many concerned constituents of my hon. Friend Caroline Ansell, who cannot be here today because she is ill, fearing that paediatrics is being closed at Eastbourne District General Hospital and that patients would have to go a long way to Conquest Hospital.

None of that is remotely true. There will be no closure. What is happening is that two paediatric departments are being merged on the same site at Eastbourne District General Hospital, and children will receive urgent care under specialist paediatric nurses for seven days a week, which they do not get now. This is a scare story, and it seems to be the subject of serial scare stories from the Liberal Democrats. This is really frightening for people and families living in that constituency.

Madam Deputy Speaker, how can that correction be put on the record? Will the hon. Member for St Albans take this opportunity to withdraw her entirely inaccurate charges?

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. Of course, it is not for the occupant of the Chair to adjudicate on what is accurate and what is not accurate, but he has made a very serious point. I remind hon. Members that they ought to be very careful in what they say in this House because of the wide-reaching ramifications of any description they make of local events.

Photo of Daisy Cooper Daisy Cooper Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health and Social Care), Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to Tim Loughton. He will be acutely aware that I am the health and social care spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, and that I have raised questions about hospitals across the country 16, 17 or possibly even 18 times. My concern is about the NHS and hospital services more broadly.

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will also be aware that, at a hearing of the relevant county council’s health overview and scrutiny committee in December, the local trust was quoted as saying:

“We are substituting a consultant for an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. It might be that the ANP takes a more cautious approach and sends more children over to Hastings than a senior consultant.”

If there were no reason for concern, why did the cross-party health overview and scrutiny committee vote unanimously for a pause? If there were nothing to worry about, why has Caroline Ansell followed the lead of campaigners by also calling for a call-in? It seems to me that local residents have concerns, and they want those concerns to be heard in this Chamber.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

I thank the hon. Lady for responding to the point of order of Tim Loughton. As I said earlier, it is not for the occupant of the Chair to adjudicate between different interpretations of fact. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for taking the opportunity to put her point to the House, and I quite understand the point made by the hon. Gentleman. I am sure there will be further opportunities, hopefully in the near future, for them to discuss this matter reasonably on the Floor of the House. I reiterate that it is very important that facts presented in the Chamber are accurate.

Photo of Hannah Bardell Hannah Bardell Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs Team Member), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development Team Member)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. During Prime Minister’s questions, I was horrified to hear the Prime Minister, in LGBT History Month and on a day when Brianna Ghey’s mother was in Parliament, make a transphobic joke in the Chamber. As elected representatives, we come to this place to improve the condition of others, do we not? At a time when the trans community is facing unprecedented attacks from people in this place, from people in the other place and from the media, it is incumbent on us all to reflect on our language, on how we approach these issues and on how we talk about the trans and non-binary community.

Madam Deputy Speaker, can you guide us on how we can ensure that the Prime Minister apologises? He was given an opportunity towards the end of Prime Minister’s questions, and he refused. Can you use your good offices to encourage him to take the opportunity to come back to the Chamber to apologise for those remarks and to remove them from the record? I do not believe his remarks reflect the views of the majority of people in this Chamber who want to respect the trans and non-binary community, and who want to make it better and easier for them to live their lives in safety instead of what is increasingly becoming a hostile environment.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

I appreciate the hon. Lady’s point, but it is often necessary for Mr Speaker or the Deputy Speakers to say that points of order are not designed to continue the arguments of Prime Minister’s questions. The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and, indeed, all Members are here for the time that the Prime Minister is here, and very often—indeed, almost always—Opposition Members will disagree with what the Prime Minister says. It is not for me to adjudicate, nor indeed to require him to say anything different.

I will say, however, that the hon. Lady touches on a very sensitive subject, and I understand that the mother of the tragically murdered teenager Brianna Ghey was present this afternoon. I reiterate, as I believe the Prime Minister did from what I heard at the end of Prime Minister’s questions, the enormous sympathy that everyone in this House has—[Interruption.] Could Alison Thewliss just let me finish, please.

It is not for me to comment on what the Prime Minister said or did not say. On behalf of the whole House, I reiterate our enormous sympathy and, indeed, admiration for Brianna Ghey’s mother on the way in which she has conducted her public profile during this tragic time for her and her family. The House ought to show sympathy and understanding when a tragedy occurs, rather than always making political points.