Lindsay Hoyle criticises Zahawi for ‘worrying’ lack of statement
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Speaker Lindsay Hoyle was outraged after details of the NHS pay review were not presented first to the House of Commons on Wednesday and was instead published through a press release later that day. Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi apologised that Health Secretary Sajid Javid was unable to update the house during his own COVID-19 briefing which saw the Speaker rise from his seat and reprimand the Government. Mr Hoyle has the power to grant an urgent question on the matter after the pay rise was announced via social media to allow MPs to scrutinise the Government over the decision but the House of Commons suspends for summer on July 22 meaning it is too late.
Mr Zahawi sheepishly took to the dispatch box for an update on the vaccine programme but addressed the issues of the NHS pay announcement.
He began by saying: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker and can I offer the apology of the Secretary of State [Sajid Javid] and the Department of Health.
“On the inability of the department to make a statement on the acceptance of the independent peer review body.
“That NHS staff should get three percent and I hope you will accept my apology on behalf of the Secretary of State as he is self-isolating.”
Sir Lindsay then rose from his seat to say: “I really do appreciate the minister is so courteous.
“But it makes it worse when the minister has actually at the despatch box when all this is going outside.
“And to turn to the house and say ‘I can’t tell you’ not that I don’t know but I can’t tell you is even more worrying.”
Awkwardly however, Mr Zahawi then began thanking Sir Lindsay and the rest of the Commons staff for enabling the house to remain open during the pandemic.
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The gushing statement saw Mr Zahawi call Sir Lindsay’s work a “great achievement” as he and his staff have “kept our democracy running at this time of crisis”.
The Vaccine Minister went on to say that lockdown measures were constantly “under review”, sparking fears of a return to restrictions later this year.
He also discussed vaccine passports which will be introduced for some indoor venues from September and said it was a step “not taken lightly”.
Sir Lindsay was reportedly “angry” that the House of Commons was not told of the NHS pay rise which was instead publicised on social media by Mr Javid.
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The Speaker has the power to submit an urgent question session to allow MPs to be scrutinised over the decision but applications require a day’s notice.
The House of Commons breaks up for summer on July 22 and will not return to sit until September 6.
It is not the first time Sir Lindsay has attacked the Government for making announcements outside the Commons.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Sir Lindsay after several lockdown announcements were made from Downing Street’s new press room instead of the Commons.
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