Lindsay Hoyle – 2020 Statement on Rishi Sunak’s Behaviour

Below is the text of the statement made by Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, in the House on 17 March 2020.

Before I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make his statement, I wish to make a few remarks. Ministers have the right to make statements immediately after questions and urgent questions in the normal way, but ministerial statements at other times require my permission. The Government asked my permission for the Chancellor to make a statement today at 7 pm. I agreed to that, but I made it clear that I did so only on the basis that the House would be the first to hear from him and that he would not first appear before the media. I turned down requests for urgent questions to the Chancellor that I would otherwise have granted. I wanted to ensure that elected Members had the first opportunity to question the Chancellor.

I am deeply disappointed that what I understood to be a commitment has not been honoured. These are difficult and sobering times. I do not want to pick a quarrel with any Member. I do, though, want to make it crystal clear that my view is that Ministers have a duty to report first to this House when major policy changes are announced. The Chancellor has the chance to do the right thing in the future. I call upon him now to give the House an assurance that any future statements will be made to the House first, which is consistent with section 9.1 of the ministerial code.