On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is a fundamental feature of our parliamentary proceedings that contol of money is crucial to the way in which power is exercised. The basis of our proceedings is that money should not be provided to Government from the Consolidated Fund until hon. Members have had the opportunity to express their grievances. That means that Ministers have to reply.
The Consolidated Fund debate is essentially one for Back Benchers to have an opportunity to raise matters of particular concern to their constituents. There is always a considerable constraint on time, and many hon. Members have not been fortunate enough to take part in the debate. Many hon. Members have been here throughout the night. I certainly have. It is quite wrong for points of order to be made which curtail debate even more.
While it is, of course, appropriate that Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen should intervene, this is not an Opposition day. As I have said, it is a day on which Back Benchers may address grievances to the Government and on which Ministers reply. In his point of order, the hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) said that he is on the Procedure Committee. I chaired the Procedure Committee which made the arrangements whereby hon. Members are cut off at this hour. That was a fairly important reform and gives Back Benchers a chance to air their grievances.
Such an intervention was inappropriate. No one wishes to inhibit Front-Bench spokesmen, and I would be happy on any other occasion to give way to the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock). I certainly did not wish to be discourteous to her, but I had a matter of major constituency interest to put forward and an incredibly limited time in which to deploy complicated arguments. I hope that she will understand why I did not give way.