On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. While the news that lumps of masonry are falling off the House may be a cause for celebration in some parts of the country, no doubt with the added hope that some of us do not get out before the whole thing comes down, it is a serious matter. Further to the welcome statement by the Leader of the House, should we not discuss the matter urgently? Obviously it results from the neglect of the fabric of the building, which is symptomatic of a wider neglect of investment for the House. May I encourage the Leader of the House to bring forward new thinking on exactly the manner and way in which we finance the services and facilities of Parliament?
That is rather an ingenious point of order, but the hon. Gentleman is not unknown for such an approach to these matters. One should not conclude that the sort of damage taking place in today's storm conditions necessarily signifies lack of maintenance, because many other buildings are suffering in the same way from the exceptional weather conditions—which, I am told, are likely to abate as the evening moves on. We shall ensure that the House authorities continue to do what they can in relation to what may happen, and we shall warn hon. Members of further hazards. Yes, I do attach importance to ensuring that we get the best possible arrangements for the management, not only of the building but of other aspects of the Palace of Westminster as a whole, including the House.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the debate on schools yesterday, when summing up—as reported in Hansard, column 942—the Minister of State implied that I was an adviser to the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association. In no way am I an adviser—either voluntary or paid—to that association.
I will be brief, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that, yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) and I raised the matter of an incident involving three Labour Members which was dealt with. Since then, have you received any report from the Serjeant at Arms about an altercation which took place in the Lobby that evening involving my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke and the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott)? I have had the opportunity to drop a note to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East who is clearly not about the House at the moment. I understand that the incident consisted of some physical and verbal abuse. Have you, Mr. Speaker, received any reports about it? Was it picked up by the video cameras in the House?
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure this point will appeal to you as our employer. Suggestions have been made about the fabric of the building collapsing and there has been a request to the Leader of the House to make alternative arrangements, because of the lack of accommodation here, should the building have to be closed.
However, only this week we were given to understand that a large building opposite, on the other side of the river, which would have been ideal for accommodating Members today, has been sold to private enterprise. Should the wind and hurricane start blasting off more of the roof of this building, you, Mr. Speaker, will have the responsibility of safeguarding Members' interests because you are our employer. I do not know whether employer's liability is involved in this matter, but you are our employer and it is your responsibility. I hope that you will take action.
Order. We have an important debate in front of us. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am not his employer, but I do have a concern for the safety and welfare of Members. However, I am not responsible for the weather.
Further to the point of order of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King), Mr. Speaker. I can confirm that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East was last night feeling tired and upset about the points of order raised, there was physical contact between him and me and he uttered some words of abuse. However, I have no scratches on me today. I understand that I am in a long line of Welsh Members who have received the same treatment, including Lord Callaghan of Cardiff. I certainly do not wish to take the matter further.
Well, I hope that the hon. Gentleman realises that he is doing a disservice to his colleagues in Scotland who are waiting to have an important debate on the community charge. However, I will hear him.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Do you agree that, if hon. Members wish to raise on points of order matters concerning the conduct of, or anything else about, other hon. Members, common courtesy requires them to advise the hon. Members to whom they intend to refer of their intention? [Interruption.] If I may say so, nothing would suit the hon. member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) better than a good thrashing.