Skip to main content

Points Of Order

Volume 169: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1990

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

12.57 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point of order, which I tried to raise earlier, is relevant, because it deals with the National Health Service and Community Care Bill. One of the Bill's sponsors is none other than the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker). We now know from the tape and from the Patronage Secretary that the right hon. Gentleman's successor has been appointed. Would it not therefore be in order for the Bill to be withdrawn because one of its sponsors has resigned? I understand that he has resigned, without making a statement to the House, in order to become chairman of PowerGen.

As I said earlier, I raised this matter on points of order on three previous occasions and during business questions on Thursday in the hope that a statement would be made so that we in Wales could ask the Secretary of State for Wales why he was resigning. We had a six-hour Welsh debate, yet the right hon. Gentleman did not declare his intention of resigning to take up the job as chairman of PowerGen. I think that it comes within your ambit, Mr. Speaker, for you to ask Ministers and the Patronage Secretary why appointed Ministers should not declare to the House their reason for resigning.

Order. Let me deal with one thing at a time. The right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) was the Secretary of State for Wales when the Bill was printed and, as far as I am aware, he is still the Secretary of State for Wales. I have no knowledge of any other job that he may or may not have been offered, so as far as I am concerned that point does not arise.

Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your assistance and guidance concerning the appointment of a new Secretary of State for Wales. In the Welsh Grand Committee, which sat this morning, the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) gave us no details of the situation whatever so we are not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman is still the Secretary of State for Wales. That is why we seek your help, Sir. Can you bring the Patronage Secretary to the Dispatch Box to make a statement giving us all the details, to enable us to establish whether it is true that the Minister for the poll tax has been selected to take the place of the right hon. Member for Worcester?

I have absolutely no knowledge of these matters, and they are not matters for me.

I, too, was present at this morning's sitting of the Welsh Grand Committee, when the Secretary of State for Wales—until now—said that he knew nothing of a statement having been made concerning the appointment of his successor. Yet a few moments ago, the Patronage Secretary not only referred to the new Secretary of State for Wales but commended him to the House, so he at least must know who it is to be.

We do not know whether we have no Secretary of State for Wales, one or other, or two at the same time. That is a completely unsatisfactory state of affairs, given that that matter is vital to us in Wales.

That is not a matter that can be raised on a point of order in the Chamber. I have absolutely no knowledge of these matters.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, you will recall that I asked the Patronage Secretary to give us more details of the time that would be allowed if the timetable motion were carried. I pointed out that it would be possible for that timetable motion to give us a further 18 hours of debate on the 30 remaining new clauses and matters related to them, which affect everyone in the country. When I went to the Table Office immediately afterwards, I found deposited there the timetable motion whose details the Patronage Secretary had uncharacteristically declined to reveal to the House. It was public knowledge to hon. Members in the Table Office, but not in the Chamber.

If the timetable motion is carried, we shall have until midnight tonight—Wednesday—to debate these matters. That gives us a maximum of six hours. Would it be in order, Mr. Speaker, for the Patronage Secretary to discharge his duties to democracy and to the House and follow the precept that he mentioned in his reply to me? Could he, during the Adjournment debate, table a different timetable motion giving us three times as long—until midday on Thursday—to debate these very important new clauses?

It would be in order for the Patronage Secretary to do that if he so wished, provided that the motion appeared on the Order Paper before we began Wednesday's proceedings.

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that, about a quarter of an hour ago, the Patronage Secretary said that, tomorrow, we should debate a motion to amend schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975——

Order. Was the hon. Gentleman not here during questions to the Patronage Secretary? Surely he could have asked his question of the right hon. Gentleman then.

It is your guidance that I seek, Mr. Speaker. During the points of order that followed the business statement, the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) said that the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) was about to take up a position as the chairman of PowerGen. Suppose that that is established before tomorrow evening. From 31 March, PowerGen shares will be held by the Government. Does that mean that the chairmanship will become an office of appointment under the Crown, and will it be relevant to debate that tomorrow evening?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The guillotine arrangements that we shall be following later today and tomorrow, will not be in the Vote Office before the House adjourns. In view of that very short notice, will you be accepting manuscript amendments, as that would be most helpful?

I will take one more point of order, from the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson).

On a quick point of order, Mr. Speaker, I was very perplexed by something that the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) said. He said that he had attended a sitting——

Order. The fact that an hon. Member is perplexed by what another hon. Member has said is not a point of order. I am constantly perplexed.

I seek clarification from you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Ogmore said that he was present at a sitting of the Welsh Grand Committee this morning. Surely that is impossible. He must have been there tomorrow morning.

No, let me have the first go. It is Wednesday upstairs in Committee, but it may be Tuesday down here.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the question of the appointment of the Secretary of State for Wales, I realise that you have very little power in this matter, but the Government have been unforthcoming and have made no statement. The circumstances are completely different from those that usually pertain. Usually when a Secretary of State resigns, the job becomes empty and we have an announcement from Downing Street. In this case, an announcement has been made while there is an incumbent in the job. Once again, we have strangers in Wales taking over the jobs. In those circumstances, as I have in the past, I beg to move, That strangers do withdraw.

Notice being taken that strangers were present. MR. SPEAKER, pursuant to Standing Order No. 143 ( Withdrawal of Strangers from the House), put forthwith the Question,

That strangers do withdraw:—

The House proceeded to a Division—

1.21 pm

I direct the Serjeant at Arms to inquire why there is a delay in the Division Lobbies.

The House having divided: Ayes 2, Noes 190.

Division No. 122]

[1.06 pm


Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)Tellers for the Ayes:
Thomas, Dr Dafydd ElisMr. Alex Salmond and
Mr. Dafydd Wigley.


Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Harris, David
Alton, DavidHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Amess, DavidHaynes, Frank
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Hind, Kenneth
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Ashton, JoeHome Robertson, John
Atkins, RobertHood, Jimmy
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Hordern, Sir Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Barron, KevinHowells, Geraint
Battle, JohnHowells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Beggs, RoyHoyle, Doug
Beith, A. J.Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Bellingham, HenryHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Benn, Rt Hon TonyHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Irvine, Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Jackson, Robert
Bermingham, GeraldJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Boswell, TimJones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Bright, GrahamKey, Robert
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Kilfedder, James
Buck, Sir AntonyKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Butcher, JohnKirkwood, Archy
Butler, ChrisKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaKnox, David
Churchill, MrLamond, James
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Lee, John (Pendle)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Cohen, HarryLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Colvin, MichaelLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Conway, DerekLewis, Terry
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Livingstone, Ken
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Livsey, Richard
Corbett, RobinLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Cryer, BobLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaLoyden, Eddie
Curry, DavidMcCartney, Ian
Dalyell, TamMcFall, John
Davis, David (Boothferry)McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dewar, DonaldMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dickens, GeoffreyMcKelvey, William
Dixon, DonMaclean, David
Dorrell, StephenMans, Keith
Douglas, DickMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMartin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Duffy, A. E. P.Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Dunn, BobMeale, Alan
Dunnachie, JimmyMeyer, Sir Anthony
Eadie, AlexanderMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Eastham, KenMills, Iain
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fallon, MichaelMoate, Roger
Favell, TonyMorgan, Rhodri
Fearn, RonaldMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fenner, Dame PeggyMoynihan, Hon Colin
Flynn, PaulMurphy, Paul
Forman, NigelNeubert, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Nicholls, Patrick
Forth, EricNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Foster, DerekO'Brien, William
Foulkes, GeorgeOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
Franks, CecilPike, Peter L.
Freeman, RogerPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Gale, RogerPorter, David (Waveney)
Garel-Jones, TristanQuin, Ms Joyce
Golding, Mrs LlinRaffan, Keith
Gorman, Mrs TeresaRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Gorst, JohnRhodes James, Robert
Graham, ThomasRogers, Allan
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Rowe, Andrew
Grist, IanRuddock, Joan
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Sackville, Hon Tom

Sayeed, JonathanWallace, James
Scott, Rt Hon NicholasWaller, Gary
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Shore, Rt Hon PeterWareing, Robert N.
Sillars, JimWheeler, Sir John
Skeet, Sir TrevorWiddecombe, Ann
Skinner, DennisWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Speller, TonyWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Winterton, Nicholas
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Stokes, Sir JohnWolfson, Mark
Stradling Thomas, Sir JohnWood, Timothy
Summerson, HugoWoodcock, Dr. Mike
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Temple-Morris, PeterYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Thornton, MalcolmTellers for the Noes:
Thurnham, PeterMr. John M. Taylor and Mr. David Lightbown.
Walker, Bill (T'side North)

Question accordingly negatived.

Order. I shall take one point of order from the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands).

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As this was the first time that that question was put to the House since the television cameras were introduced, if it had been carried, would the television cameras have been shut off? Would the cameras be strangers?

If that had occurred, I confirm that that would have been the case—the cameras would be shut off.

Order. I am not taking any more points of order. I now call Mr. David Alton to present his petition.

I have already asked the hon. Gentleman to resume his seat. I call Mr. David Alton.