Last Wednesday the Prime Minister question time shifted from the Prime Minister to his Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab and so the Labour Party shifted from Keir Starmer to Angela Rayner. Her fourth question session included the element “can he guarantee that the Prime Minister never asked anyone to urge the security services to revise, reconsider or withdraw their assessment of Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia?” and the response from Dominic Raab began with “The suggestion that the right hon. Lady is making is sheer nonsense.” which is deeply disturbing and we clearly need Parliament to challenge the Government. She has raised it subsequently with other people but this is a significant issue and we need a response. Here are a series of questions she has raised in Parliament and the poor quality responses that were made. The first was one of the later questions directed to Dominic Raab.
Angela Rayner: What I do know better is that a central duty of any Government is to keep the British people safe. There are now widespread reports that the Prime Minister did not accept warnings from our own intelligence services about granting a Russian oligarch—the son and business partner of a KGB spy—a seat here in this Parliament. It should not matter if such a warning was about a close personal friend of the Prime Minister. It should not matter if he gave the Prime Minister thousands of pounds of gifts. It should not matter how much champagne and caviar he serves. There are no ifs or buts when it comes to the safety of the British people. So I ask the Deputy Prime Minister: can he guarantee that the Prime Minister never asked anyone to urge the security services to revise, reconsider or withdraw their assessment of Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia?
Dominic Raab: The suggestion that the right hon. Lady is making is sheer nonsense. But if she wants to talk about national security, I remind her that not so long ago she and her shadow Cabinet colleagues wanted Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister—a man who wanted and talked about abolishing the Army and pulling out of Trident. She voted for that. Has there ever been a more ridiculous, reckless, naive moment to call for unilateral nuclear disarmament and to pull out of NATO? A Labour Government would put at risk our security. We are doing everything that we can to protect it.
Later in the day she then asked this question to Rosie Winterton who is one of the Deputy Speakers.
Angela Rayner: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Earlier today, I asked the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Prime Minister had ever asked anyone to urge the security services to revise, reconsider or withdraw their assessment of Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia. He replied that the suggestion was “sheer nonsense”. But this afternoon the Prime Minister’s former chief adviser has stated in writing that the Prime Minister was told that the intelligence services had “serious reservations” but “cut a deal” to provide the Commission with a “sanitised” version of the advice. The ministerial code requires Ministers to correct the record if they inadvertently mislead the House, as the former Downing Street chief of staff has alleged. So can you tell me, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether you have had any notice from the Deputy Prime Minister that he intends to come to the House to correct the record, and if not, can you advise me about how the House can get to the truth of this very serious issue?
Rosie Winterton: I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for her point of order and for giving me notice of it. As she will know, the Speaker is not responsible for ministerial answers. She is quite correct that the ministerial code requires Ministers to correct any inadvertent errors. Those on the Government Front Bench—I am looking to the Whip and to the Ministers—will have heard her comments, and if an error has been made in this instance, I hope that it will be corrected speedily. Of course the Minister concerned may take the view that there is no inaccuracy. I am quite certain that the right hon. Lady will find ways to pursue the matter in any event.
The following day her written questions were answered by Michael Ellis.
Angela Rayner: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, when the Prime minister last met Lord Ledebev of Hampton and Siberia and when the last time was that each Minister in his Department met Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia.
Michael Ellis: Details of Ministers’ meetings with external organisations, including with newspaper and other media proprietors, editors and senior executives, are published on a quarterly basis and made available on GOV.UK.
A day later Angela Rayners next question got responded to by Michael Ellis here
Angela Rayner: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, whether the Prime Minister has met Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia in Downing Street.
Michael Ellis: I refer the Rt hon. Member to my answer on 17 March.