You elected me to represent you in Parliament. That means that Monday-Thursday I’m usually down in Westminster before heading back home to spend time out and about in North West Durham.
However, Parliament and its procedures and rules can seem mysterious and sometimes it’s not always easy to understand exactly how things happen. I’ve decided to try and help demystify things a bit! So, every week I will post something about what I’ve been up to in Parliament that might not otherwise be top of your news feed.
Sometimes you might hear on the news that “The minister gave a statement to the House of Commons” – so this week, I’ve decided to explain what a ‘Statement’ is.
Formally, it is an ‘oral statement’ – there are also written statements which I’ll tell you about in a later post - which is essentially the formal announcement of a new Government policy to Parliament. During the day in Parliament they happen after Questions (which are always at the start of the day) and before consideration of new laws.
Some key rules around statements are:
1.) The Government has to apply for a statement by asking the Speaker of the House of Commons the day before for permission – at this stage they just provide the title
2.) The Government has to provide the Speaker, and the spokesmen for the main opposition parties with the statement AT LEAST 45 minutes before it is delivered in the House of Commons
3.) Statements have an hour in time blocked out but can ‘go short’ (if there are not enough people to speak) or ‘go long’ if the Speaker determines there is a lot of interest
4.) Usually the statement is about 10 minutes. The Opposition spokesman gets to respond, often asking questions, then the minister responds to the opposition. After that other members of the House of Commons from both sides get to ‘bob’ (stand up and down to ‘catch the Speakers eye’) to ask questions. The speaker usually takes a Government backbencher, then an opposition backbencher and on until no-one is left. Questioners are usually called in order of seniority with the Chairman of Select Committees, former Prime Ministers and former Ministers given preference over backbenchers.
Last week in Parliament, I gave a Ministerial statement to announce an extra £500 million for my ‘Get Around for £2 Scheme’ and to support bus routes nationally. A Ministerial statement is like a baptism of fire for a Minister: it is the perfect opportunity for other MPs to grill the Minister (me in this case) about their announcement. It was my first time giving a statement, rather than asking a question in someone else’s, so I really needed to be on my brief.
Here's the written record of my statement:
Parliament is for the people and I want to make it as accessible to as many people as possible. Let me know if there’s anything you want to learn about Parliament and I would be happy to shine a light on it for you!