Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 4:02 pm on 10th May 1988.

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Photo of Mr Jimmy Dunnachie Mr Jimmy Dunnachie , Glasgow Pollok 4:02 pm, 10th May 1988

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Due to the inaccurate and misleading answer that the Prime Minister gave me today, is there nothing in Standing Orders to ensure that she should give more realistic and truthful answers to Members' questions? The housing benefit cuts are the responsibility of this Government, not of local government.

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

The hon. Gentleman may possibly be right, but that is not a matter for me. I understand that he is dissatisfied with that answer, but I cannot help him because it is not a matter of order. If the question is asked again—and there will be other opportunities to raise it—the hon. Member may receive a different answer.

Photo of Mr Anthony Beaumont-Dark Mr Anthony Beaumont-Dark , Birmingham, Selly Oak

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It may be that you have been ill advised, as we all are from time to time, but bearing in mind the importance of the confectionery industry in my constituency, easily the biggest employer, and bearing in mind—

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

Order. I know it is difficult.

Photo of Mr Anthony Beaumont-Dark Mr Anthony Beaumont-Dark , Birmingham, Selly Oak

No, it is not difficult; it is disgraceful.

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

Order. I understand the hon. Member's frustration, but he may have another opportunity tomorrow to ask questions about this subject, if he behaves himself.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to refer to a general principle of the constitution—indeed, a convention of the constitution.

The exchanges on the private notice question demonstrated how important it is that the Secretary of State should make the decision. You consider that issues should be raised on the Floor of the House, but we were unable to question the person who is legally obliged to make decisions because the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is in the other place. I should be grateful for your advice on how hon. Members can bring their influence to bear so that, when statements such as the one that has been made, today are made we get the organ grinder, not the monkey, and we can question the Secretary of State.

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

The hon. Member knows that that is not a matter for me. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is also a member of the Cabinet.

Photo of Mr Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike , Burnley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the Prime Minister found that under pressure she had inadvertently misled the House and sought your permission under Standing Orders to make a statement to correct what she had said, would you be able to provide time to allow her to do that later today?

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

Any personal statement has to be cleared with me, but I am not certain that suggestions would be appropriate.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that in another lengthy written answer to a question from the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) the Prime Minister used these words: housing benefit has been changed".—[Official Report, 6 May 1988; Vol. 132, c. 634.] Given that the Prime Minister outlined what she said were her achievements, that does not seem to be consistent with the reply that she gave this afternoon to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Dunnachie). Taking into account your excellent interview at the weekend—

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

Order. Let us not go into that, please. What is the point of order for me today? I believe the answer to the question was on Friday, not at the weekend.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

I thank you for what you have just said, Mr. Speaker, but, given that you want there to be an excellent relationship between Parliament and the people, do you accept that that also includes local government? If the Government are making it difficult for local authorities by blaming them for something with which they have had absolutely nothing to do, is it not right that you should give us your guidance on the possibility of a parliamentary debate?

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

I am responsible for questions of order in the House. I cannot be held to be responsible for questions on the Order Paper, and certainly not for the answers that are given to them. That is a matter for parliamentary debate. Hon. Members must find parliamentary opportunities to raise these matters. I cannot deal with them.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin , Glasgow Springburn

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I heard what the Prime Minister had to say. On Saturday I heard about 30 constituents complaining about the same matter to which my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) referred.

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

Order. I have just replied to the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke). I, too, have constituency surgeries, but I cannot answer his question. That is not my responsibility.

Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Dunnachie) and for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin), is it not deplorable that the Prime Minister is so parsimonious with the truth that she prefers to—

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

Order. I have already said that hon. Members must find parliamentary opportunities to deal with matters of that kind. They must not seek to debate them through the Chair.