Refugees (Members' Representations)

– in the House of Commons at 4:07 pm on 17th February 1987.

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Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West 4:07 pm, 17th February 1987

I wish to raise a point with you, Mr. Speaker, concerning the rights of hon. Members, which arises from exchanges on the private notice question. I would ask that you look at the record and reflect upon the statements made by the Minister of State. As I understood what he said, it was to the effect that he would set aside, or even refuse, representations from hon. Members on cases of those seeking refugee status. I do not think that the Minister has the right to do that.

I would ask you, Sir, as the custodian of the rights of hon. Members to consider what the Minister said. If you believe that he was exceeding his responsibility and rights, I ask you to inform the House accordingly. I urge you to consider carefully what the Minister said, because it is quite outrageous in cases of this sort, which include women and children, many of whom fear for their lives if they are returned, that Members of this House should not have the opportunity to make representations to the Minister in the expectation that those representations will be properly considered.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I often find myself saying from the Chair that I am not responsible for what is said from the Front Bench. I am not responsible for any views that the Minister may have expressed. [Interruption.] I am not. The hon. Member must seek other ways of seeking what he wishes.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I ask you to examine carefully the record of the debate that was held on the Minister's guidelines for dealing with immigration matters and cases. It is one of the few areas where the House has laid down specifically what a Member of Parliament can do and what rights he has. It was quite clear from that debate that the rights of refugees and asylum seekers were not to be restricted, and hon. Members would still be able to make representations in respect of those cases. This afternoon, in answer to a private notice question, the Minister has made a statement to the effect that he is setting aside a decision of the House and preventing hon. Members from raising with his office questions relating to the need for him to consider the case of an asylum seeker.

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that you study the statement made this afternoon and the record of the debate concerned. I think that you will find that it is necessary for the House to have a further debate on the subject before the Minister can unilaterally abrogate a statement which he made to the House only a few months ago and which was subsequently voted upon.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not for me to police statements made or regulations that may have been laid down by the Minister. This is a matter for debate; the hon. Gentleman must take it up with the Minister concerned or the Leader of the House at business questions on Thursday.