Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 4:18 pm on 25th January 1990.

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Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 4:18 pm, 25th January 1990

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?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Howe Mr Geoffrey Howe , East Surrey

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.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

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.

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

I must warn the House that we have an important debate ahead of us.

Photo of Mr Roger King Mr Roger King , Birmingham, Northfield

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?

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

It is the first that I have heard of it.

Photo of Mr Raymond Powell Mr Raymond Powell , Ogmore

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.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

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

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.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

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.

Several Hon. Members:

rose—

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

Order. Let us not take anything further. We have an important debate ahead.

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

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.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

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.

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

Order. Let us get on to a good debate.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have heard of lager louts, we have had Tea Room tantrums and now we have Lobby louts. Can we be protected from such shipboard manners as we proceed through the Lobbies?

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

Let us get on with the business of the House.