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Points of Order

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It will not have escaped your attention that there has already been widespread public disorder across Europe arising from current economic conditions, including in Iceland, where the Government and Parliament have been directly on the receiving end of such disorder. I tabled a question to the Home Secretary on 22 January, asking

“what consideration she has given to assessing the threat to public order arising from the current economic situation.”

There was no reply to that on the named day for answer, 29 January, so I tabled another question, asking her when she would answer that question, but answer came there none. Imagine my surprise this morning to see that the lead story in The Guardian is “Britain faces summer of rage—police”. The article goes on to say:

“Britain’s most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming ‘footsoldiers’ in a wave of…violent mass protests.”

Whatever the merits of that opinion, surely you, Mr. Speaker, will be as surprised as I am that parliamentary questions on the subject have not been answered. Are you aware of any statement that the Home Secretary proposes to make on that issue? Could you give an instruction that she should at least pay attention to her parliamentary duty and answer hon. Members’ questions?

I am always very keen for Members of the House who table questions to get a proper answer. I am not responsible for the reply that any Minister gives, but the hon. Gentleman has put the matter on record, and I hope that the Ministers responsible will take note of the points that he has made.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to ask your advice on a matter relating to Iqra Slough Islamic primary school in my constituency, which has refused to allow me to visit it until, according to the governors, I issue

“a full retraction of your view as regards the Promoters, the majority of whom are Governors and that you fully support the current Promoters and Governing Body.”

I know that this is not a matter of privilege, but I believe that that body is seeking to fetter my ability to represent my constituents.

I am afraid that is a matter in which I cannot interfere, but the hon. Lady has an advantage in that her constituency is quite near the House of Commons. The important thing about the school is the children, so why not invite them along to the House of Commons and let them see the good work that the hon. Lady does? To me, that would be the answer.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday the Prime Minister was in Berlin with other leaders of the European Union discussing matters relating to the regulation of financial services and, by implication, the City of London. Surely a matter of that importance ought to be accompanied by a statement. Would you please be kind enough to ensure that the Prime Minister comes to the House of Commons on such occasions?

It is up to the Prime Minister, but he will note the point that the hon. Gentleman has made.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you reassure the House that if, as rumoured, the Government are about to authorise the Bank of England to take further steps towards the printing of money, involving some £150 billion-worth of taxpayers’ money, that will be done only through a full statement to the House?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I raise with you a letter that has been written by my parliamentary neighbour, the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush (Mr. Slaughter), which has gone to tens of thousands of my constituents, outlining his reasons for his resignation as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lord Malloch-Brown? It is written on House of Commons Portcullis paper, which seeks to lend the authority of the House. In a letter to my constituents, the hon. Gentleman says that he has been their elected representative for 25 years and he is looking forward to fighting the next election as Labour’s candidate for the new Hammersmith seat. He goes on to say:

“My first duty as an MP is to you”,

but that is written to people who are not his constituents. May we have a ruling on whether the rules on writing to other Members’ constituents are properly enforced in the House?

First, I hope the hon. Gentleman has notified the hon. Gentleman about whom he is complaining. The best ruling that I can give is keep the Speaker out of disputes over boundaries. That is the best thing to do. Hon. Members should try and resolve these matters themselves. Every constituency has a Member of Parliament. The boundary changes that the boundary commission has brought in are nothing to do with the House or the individual Members. Hon. Members should be busy looking after their existing constituents without interfering. I make no criticism of the hon. Gentleman’s constituency neighbour. I say to the whole House—[Interruption.] Order. I say to the House, if the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) will let me speak, that every Member of Parliament has constituents. Look after the existing constituents, and worry about what happens after the next election.

Bill Presented

Northern Ireland Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr. Secretary Woodward, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary David Miliband, Mr. Secretary Straw, Secretary Jacqui Smith, Mr. Secretary Hutton, Mr. Secretary Paul Murphy, Mr. Secretary Jim Murphy and Paul Goggins, presented a Bill to make provision in relation to policing and justice in Northern Ireland; and to amend section 86 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 62) with explanatory notes (Bill 62-EN).