Valerie Vaz – 2022 Statement on the Conduct of Eddie Hughes and Wendy Morton

The statement made by Valerie Vaz, the Labour MP for Walsall South, in the House of Commons on 13 July 2022.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It relates to hon. Members visiting my constituency. Could you please advise me on how I should deal with a breach of protocol, in that I was informed by two hon. Members, the hon. Members for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) and for Aldridge-Brownhills (Wendy Morton), that they would be visiting my constituency within a few hours of their visits? I have given notice that I would be making this point of order today.

On 4 February, the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills told me, on the day, that she would be visiting Walsall College. On 25 April, I was informed by text. On 1 May, I was informed on the day of her visit that the hon. Member would be in my constituency. On 6 November 2020, 1 January 2021, 11 April 2022 and 1 July 2022, the hon. Member for Walsall North informed me that he would be visiting my constituency on the day in question. Both hon. Members are former Whips and should know the rules.

I should be grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker, if you could confirm that according to the protocol set out in “Rules of behaviour and courtesies in the House of Commons”, advance notice is required of visits to the constituency of another Member. May I also ask you to make a statement to confirm the rule that “advance notice” is not notice given on the day itself?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for giving notice of her point of order, and also for notifying the Members concerned that she intended to raise this matter. The most recent edition of the “courtesies” booklet to which she referred states that if a Member intends to visit the constituency of another Member,

“All reasonable efforts should be taken to notify the other Member”,

although that obviously does not apply to a purely private visit. Not to take such action is considered very discourteous. Although the booklet does not specify a minimum notice period, I agree that receiving notice on the day of a visit does not reflect the intention of the guidance. I think we all know that it is highly unlikely that a visit would be organised on the day, so these visits are very likely to have been arranged beforehand.

I trust the Members concerned, in this instance, to resolve the issue without my assistance, but I am happy to clarify the general point. I would expect all Members to make efforts to respect not just the letter of the guidance but its spirit, and to give notice at least in advance of the day of the visit itself. I hope that this will be passed back through the relevant channels, in all parts of the House, to ensure that it is made very clear to right hon. and hon. Members. I think we will leave it at that.