John Bercow warns parties against making ‘inaccurate’ Commons clips for social media

Posted On: 
15th March 2018

John Bercow has warned parties not to edit parts of Commons debates that give an “erroneous” impression when they are posted on social media.

John Bercow said parties should not
Credit: 
Parliament TV

The Speaker hit out after Tory MP Rachel Maclean said she had been accused of “taking food from the mouths of the poorest children” following a debate on free school meals on Tuesday.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner forced and subsequently lost a vote on changes to the rules on which families claiming Universal Credit are entitled to the free meals.

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But a row broke out after Labour claimed the move meant that 1.1 million children currently receiving free meals would lose them.

The Conservatives accused the opposition of "scaremongering" after Channel 4's FactCheck service said 50,000 more children would receive them by 2022.

Redditch MP Ms Maclean said having to counter claims from clips on Twitter and Facebook was both “abhorrent” and “a waste of taxpayers’ money”.

She added that clips “when lifted out of context, can be unfortunately used on social media to manipulate public opinion” and therefore end up “harming our most vulnerable constituents”.

Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom cited previous comments by Mr Bercow that while social media was "broadly to be welcomed", it should not be used to mislead.

The Speaker said: "I absolutely stand by that statement in its entirety but it is entirely compatible and consistent with saying that people cannot accuse other members of misleading the house.

"That first statement is absolutely correct, people should not use selective clips to give an incorrect, inaccurate, erroneous account of proceedings."