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Points of Order

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you enlighten me about the rules guiding naming people in devolved Parliaments? It would appear that Scottish MPs are being named on the Floor of the Scottish Parliament. Does that mean that we are now permitted to mention Members of the Scottish Parliament in this House and describe what we think they are doing wrong, as they appear to be able to do to us?

In fact, that happens quite often in Scottish questions. Mention may be made of MSPs or Members of any other devolved Parliament, but that mention must be in order and made at a time when we are debating such matters. The name of an individual MSP can be mentioned on the Floor of the House without any difficulty.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, in response to my point of order about my treatment as a constituency MP by the Home Office, you stated that that Department is not always seeking to give offence to hon. Members. I am pleased to report that I have today had a letter from the Minister concerned, whom I had notified of the point of order, assuring me that no offence was intended. In a letter that included the words “apologise” and “error” twice, as well as “sorry” and “regrettable”, and which he has placed in the Library, he makes one point that I wish to clarify:

“Normally, where there are no outstanding communications from the constituent’s MP, we would not copy such a response to a peer or applicant to the MP.”

The Minister goes on to make it clear that he had had outstanding communications from me that had not been answered. He has not quite put it in absolute terms that MPs will always be answered when there are outstanding communications concerning a constituent, but it is my understanding that that is what the letter really means. I would be grateful if you would confirm that that is your understanding also.

It sounds as though the hon. Gentleman is about 99 per cent. there, with a little help from me. It is up to Ministers how they deal with such matters and it is open to the hon. Gentleman to go and see the Minister concerned and obtain the clarification that he seeks.

Now that the Minister for the Middle East is here, we can move on to the next business.

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