Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker, and to your wise words and guidance, you will recall that in business questions last week I specifically said to the Leader of the House that there was growing concern that although Ministers are properly accountable to this place and can be called if they have said anything that is not accurate, that does not extend to Opposition Members.
Yet again in Prime Minister’s questions, we have had assertions from right hon. and hon. Opposition Members of facts that are disputed. Mr Speaker, I do not expect you to give any ruling now—you cannot—but would it be in order for the House to consider how we ensure that we report things factually and that any means of challenge extends to the Opposition as well as to the Government?
I shall always profit by the right hon. Lady’s counsels and I am grateful to her for offering them. Off the top of my head, I would say that the assertion of disputable facts is the very essence of politics. The assertion by one Member of something as fact that is contradicted or questioned by another Member is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons. I think we will have to leave it there for today.
The right hon. Lady raised a wider point appertaining to social networking sites, at or after business questions last Thursday, to which I gave a fairly comprehensive reply that can always be consulted by Members in the unlikely event that they have nothing better to do.