Ministerial Statements

– in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 29th February 1988.

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Photo of Mr Harry Ewing Mr Harry Ewing , Falkirk East 4:15 pm, 29th February 1988

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This afternoon, you have twice referred to the fact that this is an Opposition Supply day. The first occasion was when the Minister of State was making his statement on prescription charges and associated items. It is noticeable that, through the years and under all Governments, statements are frequently made during Opposition Supply days, but, with great respect, the cure for that is in your hands because, when a Minister asks permission to make a statement, you can say, "No, it is an Opposition Supply day and, therefore, you must make it on a Government day." I would support that approach, even if a Labour Government were in power.

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

I do not have that authority. Perhaps the House should also debate that issue.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is important that Members of Parliament, especially those who are new, understand why hon. Members who are expelled from this place receive their pay. It may come as a notable surprise to many people that, just before the general election in 1983, the Government changed procedures in Parliament so that hon. Members expelled from the Chamber, regardless of the length of their suspension, should receive their pay.

I have more news which will help you, Mr. Speaker. The Government introduced that rule, but I made a speech in the Chamber late that night, when the measure was being debated, opposing the idea that the Tories were putting forward, as I was prepared to pay the fine. However, the Government got their troops to march through the Lobby in support of the measure. It is ironic that some Tories now wish to return to the previous procedure. If that is reintroduced, we should make it apply to those hon. Members who come in here drunk or half sober.

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

I need make no further comment on that.