Skip to main content

Points Of Order

Volume 124: debated on Monday 14 December 1987

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

3.46 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I want to draw your attention to the composition of the Standing Committee to consider the Health and Medicines Bill. The Committee has 18 members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Mr. Hogg) from the Opposition Front Bench and my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) from the Labour Back Benches. They will offer the Committee a great deal of expertise. Unfortunately, there is no Scottish Office Minister among the 18 Committee members. Indeed, there is no Scottish Conservative Member of Parliament on the Committee.

As you will be aware, Mr. Speaker, the Health and Medicines Bill contains a great deal of controversial matter. It introduces charges and affects in a number of ways the structure of the Health Service and how it operates. Normally, we have separate Scottish legislation on the Health Service because there is a distinct tradition and a very different structure in primary health care and hospitals in Scotland. It is very important that there is a Minister in the Standing Committee to deal with the Scottish dimension. Can you, Mr. Speaker, offer any remedy in the interests of proper scrutiny of legislation and in the interests of Parliament?

I notice that the Scottish Office Minister in charge of the Health Service announced in the press the other day that he was
"only too happy to … discuss the concerns expressed over the future of the NHS"
by the president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. I very much welcome that. However, it is equally important—and even more important for the House — that the Minister appears in the Standing Committee to debate the issues affecting the future operation of the Health Service in Scotland. It is deplorable that he does not intend to do that. Is there any remedy or any way in which, you, Mr. Speaker, can help to safeguard the parliamentary processes in those circumstances?

Order. The remedy is for the hon. Gentleman to take the matter up with the Chairman of the Committee of Selection. I have no role in the matter, as the hon. Gentleman well knows.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You may remember on Thursday that you were good enough to call me during business questions when I referred to an early-day motion that I have tabled asking for a proportion of the profits from the Refreshment Department to be donated to the Ethiopian famine appeal. In reply, the Leader of the House suggested that that was a matter for the House of Commons Commission. I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you are the head of the House of Commons Commission. I would therefore be very grateful for your advice on how I can attempt to raise the matter with you. Would it be possible for some resolution to be put before the House so that a Division can be secured on the matter? If not, I can see no way in which I can raise this matter effectively with you and the House of Commons Commission.

The hon. Gentleman knows that I replied to his letter and made a suggestion. It is a matter for the Commission, but I think it unlikely that the Commission will meet again before Christmas. I hope that his suggestion can be resolved on the lines that I suggested to the hon. Gentleman.

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), Mr. Speaker—