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Points Of Order

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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

4.31 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Earlier, the House heard the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) make wholly untrue allegations about Labour's policies with respect to the savings and income from savings of pensioners. We have come to expect the premeditated dishonesty of Conservative Central Office to be reprinted in the Daily Mail, but we do not intend to allow it to go unchallenged in the columns of Hansard. The hon. Gentleman should withdraw his allegation.

I cannot be expected to monitor these statements. I am not a member of the Conservative party, so I do not receive this literature.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Shortly before yesterday's debate on the economy you told the House that in your opinion the general election campaign started when we came back from the Christmas recess. Of course, in these difficult circumstances you seek to keep order, but I ask you to reflect on one problem and to see what you can do about it. I refer to what I regard as the Labour party's organised disruption of yesterday's debate.

The example that I wish to mention is drawn not only from the delayed start of the debate but from the organised barracking of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury orchestrated from the Back Benches by a Labour Whip. So now we know that a member of the Labour party Whips Office was organising the disruption.

The hon. Member, and others, do not receive letters about this from the general public, but I do. When I have to answer them I have some difficulty defending Members of the House, for whom I have a high regard and affection, if they behave badly, but such bad behaviour does not always come from the same side of the House.

I am delighted to learn that you are a floating voter, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of the Labour party, I invite you to join the vast majority of people in this country at the next election and to vote Labour.

On a slightly more serious point of order, Mr. Speaker. You were right to point out that from now until polling day, whenever it may be, will be somewhat tortuous not just for the watching public but for Members who sit in this Chamber. You will no doubt be concerned for the reputation of this House. As we may have to wait even until the summer, tempers may get a little tetchy, as last night's closing session proved. Would it be worth your while to consider sending for the chairman not only of the 1922 committee but also of the parliamentary Labour party so that the leaders of the respective parties in Parliament can discuss with you the conduct last night? The Chief Secretary was undoubtedly unable to explain his case fully because of the obviously organised baiting. That does not augur well for the reputation of the House.

I do not think that it is necessary for me to send for the chairmen of Back-Bench committees. The behaviour of the House is in the hands of hon. Members themselves. They surely do not need to be told by the chairmen of the respective parliamentary committees what they should and should not do. I ask the hon. Member to reflect on what he has said.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have a suggestion.

You said that you receive letters of complaint from the general public. May I help you by suggesting that if you could persuade the Prime Minister to fix the election date now there would be no need for this pre-election period—if the Prime Minister would stop shilly-shallying because he is afraid of going to the country.

On a very brief point of order, Mr. Speaker. A few minutes ago the hon. Member for Bristol, East (Mr. Sayeed) attacked my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Ms. Primarolo) for being absent from the Chamber for the statement. I do not know why my hon. Friend is not here today, but I know that she is a very hard-working, committed hon. Member. For whatever reason, she is not here; I am sure that she is doing something important.

I hope that in this period of electioneering excitement we can keep off the personalities and concentrate on the policies.

In relation to what the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) said about the letters that I receive, very few of them to date, particularly since we have been televised, have been about bad behaviour in the House—rather the reverse—and I wish it to remain that way.

Because the hon. Member was not called earlier, I will allow the point of order.

With unfailing respect, may I ask why I was not called on the Yarrow statement? I have not spoken in this place for a considerable period of time.

I do not think that I should explain to the hon. Member why he was not called. I have to have a balance of Glasgow Members and other hon. Members—[HON. MEMBERS: "Clyde Members."]—well, Clydeside Members, then, against some other hon. Member who did not hear such good news as the hon. Member has had. I thought that because he had had such good news he might just like to keep it to himself today.