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Points Of Order

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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5.14 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would appreciate your help with a situation that I believe is unprecedented since you and I entered the House 24 years ago. As you know, we have an Opposition day on Wednesday, two days from now, but the House has still not been informed of the subject for debate on that day. That means that it is entirely impossible for Back Benchers to seek your permission to speak in that debate or to prepare for it, and Ministers, and indeed shadow Ministers, do not know whether to be present on that day. That is outrageous. Just because the Opposition cannot get their act together, cannot decide on the subject, and appear to be in total disarray is no reason why the House should be disadvantaged. Would you, Mr. Speaker, as the protector of the interests of the House, particularly those of Back Benchers, take action to remedy this situation immediately?

I think that this is something that I should keep well out of. It is nothing to do with the Chair.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the last few Opposition day debates the Opposition have received well and truly bloodied noses. Can you assure me that this is not an attempt on their part to ensure that Government Members cannot prepare for Opposition day debates in the future?

Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North) rose—