In a bizarre exchange in the House of Commons earlier this week, Eastleigh’s MP Mike Thornton was put in his place by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
In a routine Parliamentary session on 5th November, “Treasury Questions”, MP’s were able to put questions to Treasury Ministers and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
As always, these questions covered a wide range of subjects including Energy Prices, Fuel Duty, Air Passenger Duty, Earnings/Inflation, Youth Unemployment and many more. The full list of subjects can be seen here.
Mike Thornton’s opportunity came after the first couple of question on Energy Prices, which can be seen here.
Wishing to move the line of questioning on to a different subject, Eastleigh’s MP, Mike Thornton (who still serves as Borough Councillor for Bishopstoke West) asked;
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer join me in congratulating the Eastleigh Liberal Democrat Borough Council on the large part it has played in bringing the local unemployment rate down below 1,000?
This earned a swift rebuke from the Speaker, John Bercow, who replied;
Whatever the worthiness of the efforts of the council to which the honourable Gentleman refers, unfortunately it has absolutely nothing whatever to do with Question 1.
The Speaker then moved on to the next question, which was about Fuel Duty, with Mike Thornton’s question remaining unanswered.
Speaking later in the week, on 7th November in a session on Transport Questions, Mike Thornton did mange to get the following question past the Speaker;
Given the major changes in the rural population over the past 100 years, which has made it increasingly difficult to provide an effective service based on the traditional mid-20th century model of rural bus services that is currently used, what research has the Department done to look at alternative 21st-century methods of providing a decent bus service in rural areas?
The reply, from Robert Goodwill MP, an Assistant Whip with responsibility for Treasury & DEFRA business, was notably short on goodwill;
I have already pointed out that in 2011 and 2012 we provided a total of £20 million in additional funding for rural areas. In some rural areas which are sparsely populated, there may be alternative solutions, such as dial-a-ride, car sharing or similar schemes, which may be more appropriate for the more remote rural areas.