Skip to main content

Points Of Order

Volume 281: debated on Tuesday 16 July 1996

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

3.31 pm

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I wrote to you yesterday enclosing a piece of House of Commons notepaper that had been transformed into a Labour party recruiting document. I registered my interest as I felt that I could make valuable use of such documentation in my own constituency. I refrained from doing so, because it is my understanding that it would be a breach of regulations and, as a supporter of law and order, I would not wish to deviate from the straight and narrow.

The hon. Gentleman refers to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths), who has apologised to me for his misuse of the House emblem and agreed to reimburse the House authorities for all the costs that have been incurred.

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am so relieved that you have managed to recognise an elder Member. The Secretary of State for Health a little earlier used the word Presbyterian in a tone that suggested disapprobation. Would the House and would he recognise that the most principled and the most independent-minded Members of this place are Presbyterians like myself, and proud of it?

That is barely a point of order, but as I seldom recognise the aging Member, I was prepared to listen to him today.

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I seek your guidance on the ten-minute Bill that the hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge) is about to present. As she was the council leader who presided over and covered up the most appalling abuse in homes in Islington, will you rule as to whether she has a declarable interest in introducing the debate?

The hon. Lady has no declarable interest. The House should exercise the tolerance that I expect of it and listen to the hon. Lady. I have no idea what the hon. Lady has to say, so I think that we should hear her out.

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As you know, tomorrow we shall have Trade and Industry questions, and I have Question 2. In consequence, a letter was sent to me, probably inadvertently, by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Coombs), whom I have informed that I intended to raise the matter. The hon. Gentleman's brief letter says:

"I should be most grateful if you could spare the time to attend a brief discussion with DTI Ministers at 2.15 pm on Wednesday, 17 July. Your contribution to DTI Question Time at 2.30 pm is much appreciated, and this will be an opportunity to ensure that the resultant exchanges are, as far as possible, beneficial to all concerned.
The meeting will be held in the Large Ministerial Conference Room.
I look forward to seeing you there".
Is it in order for Ministers to meet hon. Members to go through questions and arrange what should take place in the House?

Of course it is in order for Ministers and Members to meet on any issue. But I am sure that Opposition Members wish that they were sufficiently fortunate for more such letters to come their way.

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Could the issue behind the ten-minute Bill that we are about to deal with be held to be sub judice? It has been reported in the press that Mr. Demetrious Panton, who was abused as a resident of an Islington council home, is suing the council and will summons its former leader, the hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge), to give evidence. Is it not then wrong for the hon. Lady to introduce a ten-minute Bill dealing with the banning of paedophiles? [HON. MEMBERS: "Did the hon. Gentleman give notice?"] Yes, I did.

Order. I will not have these arguments across the Floor of the House. I am assuming that the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) has already given notice.

The hon. Gentleman assures me that that is the case. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] Order. Probably at 2.30 or perhaps 3.30. I know the way in which things happen in the House; I have been here too long not to understand all that. I can assure the hon. Member for Hendon, South that had the matter been sub judice, it would not have appeared on the Order Paper today.

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. One of the great benefits of your becoming Speaker was that you stamped on a procedure used by certain Members before that time—talking among themselves to drown out an hon. Member who was speaking. It is one of our great privileges to be heard when we speak on behalf of our constituents in this place. During last night's debate on assisted places, although my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) was not actually heckled—that might have been fairer—Conservative Members talked among themselves to drown out a speech that they dared not listen to. May I ask you, Madam Speaker, to rule with a firm rod those who would stop Members speaking or being heard in the House?

I was not, of course, in the Chair throughout the whole of yesterday's proceedings, but I am sure that my deputy dealt with the matter correctly. I have always said that in this House, Members of Parliament do not have to listen to what others say, but by jove, the Member who is speaking must be heard. There is an important distinction between the two. If hon. Members do not want to listen, they must close their ears and keep quiet, or leave the Chamber. Whoever has the Floor will be heard.

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. My point arises from the Prime Minister's final reply during Prime Minister's questions, and from the Government amendment that we shall soon debate to the Opposition motion on the sale of married quarters. The Prime Minister said that the service chiefs support that sale. I should like guidance from you, Madam Speaker, on what protection can be given to the chiefs of staff against such liberal interpretation of what they have said. As a Member of the Defence Select Committee, I know that the chiefs of staff have said that

"the benefits … outweigh the risks"—

Order. I do not defend the chiefs of staff, who are quite capable of defending themselves.

Order. The hon. Gentleman has been here long enough to know that if he disagrees with what the Prime Minister or anyone else says, he has an opportunity in the forthcoming debate to get up and say so and to correct what he believes to be wrong. 'That is the way in which we proceed here—by making corrections and comments across the Floor of the House, and not by seeking to make political points through the Chair.