House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has delivered a blistering attack on the government after it bypassed the chamber to publish information on England’s new tiered-lockdown system.
Sir Lindsay was facilitating a round of questions on this week’s business statement when allowed Labour’s Valerie Vaz to interrupt with an urgent point of order.
She said: “This is a matter of extreme importance. At 11.14, it was announced you could find out which tier you were in via a journalist rather than via a statement to the House.
“I think this is an absolutely appalling way to treat parliament. Could I have your advice on whether this was an appropriate thing to do.”
She added: “In fact, the website has crashed because of everyone being on it. There is no point of being in this chamber, Mr Speaker, where we should hear the announcement first.
“We might as well be sitting remotely, which the leader of the House isn’t allowing.”
Sir Lindsay responded: “What I will say is this. It’s still a point of order to the chair but I do have an opinion and this House – which I am sure the leader of the House totally agrees with – this House should be informed first.
“We keep telling the government that is the way good government should treat and respect this chamber.
“It is not acceptable to put it online. The only good thing… is that it’s [the website] has crashed.”
Visibly frustrated, Sir Lindsay shouted: “It is not acceptable and I do say, once again, which I’m sure the leader will pass on, in the strongest terms: This House should hear it first.
“We were elected to hear it first and they should give the respect that this House deserves.”
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg waived his right to speak on the matter.