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Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2009


I wish to submit a petition on behalf of 1,364 residents throughout Greater Manchester who oppose the BBC’s decision to refuse to broadcast the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee for aid for the people of Gaza.

The petition states:

The Petition of persons concerned at the BBC’s decision not to air the DEC’s Gaza Appeal,

Declares that the International Committee of the Red Cross has said that conditions for the people of Gaza are “worse than Darfur” but the BBC refuses to allow the Disasters Emergency Committee to broadcast an appeal for aid; further declares the petitioners’ agreement with Government Health Minister Ben Bradshaw, who has said the reasons the BBC has given for blocking an appeal for humanitarian aid are “completely feeble” and that it was “an inexplicable decision”.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to do everything in its power to urge the BBC to reconsider its decision and to contact the Disasters Emergency Committee as a matter of urgency so that its appeal can be broadcast nationally.

And the petitioners remain, etc.


On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I tabled a question to the Department for International Development asking whether it was reviewing its policy on the private sector. In response, I received a telephone call asking me to disclose the source of my information.

I would appreciate your ruling on this matter, Mr. Speaker. Surely if a Member tables a question, that question should simply be answered. Surely there should be no request for the disclosure of information or attempt to negotiate about why the Member decided to table the question, and the question itself should be answered within a reasonable time frame.

The hon. Lady has a point. No hon. Member has to disclose the source of his or her information. In fact, what such Members are doing is carrying out their duty to table parliamentary questions. It is therefore not necessary for any hon. Member to disclose any information regarding the source of a question, or the reason why it has been tabled. I expect the hon. Lady’s question to be answered in a timely way.