Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 5th June 1991.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz , Leicester East 3:31 pm, 5th June 1991

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you received any notification from the Foreign Secretary that he intends to make a statement about the position of British citizens in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia? I was contacted this morning by Mr. Paul Anderson and Mr. Nigel Comely, who work for a firm in my constituency. They told me that the situation in the capital is extremely dangerous. They and about six other British people have been trying to leave the capital, but there are no aeroplanes to take them out. They have suggested to the British embassy that they be taken to Kenya or a nearby country from which they could make their way to London.

Do you, Mr. Speaker, know whether a statement is to be made? As the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs is on the Government Front Bench, could he tell the House what the position is and reassure us that those citizens are being given all the help that is possible?

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

That is not a matter for me, but it is an important matter and what has been said will have been heard by the Minister.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance about whether in the debate that we are to have on London it will be in order to highlight the fact that the education policies of Lambeth have so affected education that the official Labour party spokesman is transferring his child to a Conservative—[Interruption.]

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

Order. I have seldom heard a more spurious point of order than that. If the hon. Member seeks to participate in the debate and succeeds, he can make that point. However, it is not a point of order for me to deal with now.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the Floor of the House yesterday, I raised a point of order—

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

Order. I can anticipate the hon. Gentleman. I have written to him on the matter, and I think that he will have received my letter.

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

Has the hon. Member read my letter to him?

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

I have done so, Mr. Speaker. I accept that when I raised the point of order about members and the chairman of Lloyd's seeking to influence legislation in this place, the matter was hypothetical. I must draw your attention to the list of amendments which have been tabled to the Finance Bill. New clause 24 specifically provides for carry-back of underwriters' trading losses", which would directly apply to Lloyd's members. Therefore, the matter is not hypothetical, especially bearing in mind—

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

Order. It is not a matter for me now. It will be debated in Standing Committee. It is for the Chairman of the Committee, first, to decide whether to select the amendment and, secondly, to make a decision on the hon. Gentleman's point of order. I cannot foreshadow what the Chairman is likely to say about that matter. Nor have I seen the new clause.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Bradford South

Am I correct in assuming, therefore, that new clause 24, which is not listed as a clause to be dealt with by the Standing Committee—indeed, it is exempted from the list to be dealt with by the Committee—will be dealt with on the Floor of the House? If the clause is debated in the House after the Bill has been reported, are you prepared, Mr. Speaker, to make a statement on the financial influence of Lloyd's?

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

If that matter were to arise on Report when I was in the Chair, that would be a different matter. However, I cannot foreshadow what the Chairman of Ways and Means may decide if it is to be taken in Committee on the Floor of the House, or what may be decided by the Chairman of the Standing Committee upstairs.

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

Order. I dealt with the hon. Member's point of order.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

But I could not hear your ruling, Mr. Speaker, because of the noise being made by Labour Members.

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

My ruling was that it was a spurious point of order.

Photo of Mr Robin Squire Mr Robin Squire , Hornchurch

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I want to raise a matter with you, Mr. Speaker, in your capacity as the guardian of the accuracy of the Official Report. In a debate on 1 December 1987 on the Education Reform Bill, the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) said: Instead, it is to the Secretary of State's eternal shame that he has brought forth a Bill that will divide; that will set child against child, class against class, parent against parent, school against school, race against race."—[Official Report, 1 December 1987; Vol. 123, c. 783.] The hon. Gentleman added that that would "lead to educational apartheid." In the light of this morning's news concerning the hon. Member for Blackburn, of which we have just heard, will you, Mr. Speaker, investigate whether that is a true and fair record?

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

That point of order seems to me equally spurious.

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth , Cannock and Burntwood

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Opposition Members frequently raise points of order on the ground that Conservative Members predominantly should not speak on certain issues because they have an interest in them. Are you not fed up to the back teeth with that hypocrisy—

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

Order. Hypocrisy is not a word that we use in this Chamber. What is the hon. Member's point of order? I frequently get fed up, and I shall be fed up in a minute.

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth , Cannock and Burntwood

I was making the point that double standards were being applied. On no occasion have Labour Members sought your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on whether they should speak on matters to do with trade union reform, when they are paid by the trade unions.

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

The whole House knows the rule. On matters of public policy, it is always legitimate for Members to vote. When private interests are involved, that is a different matter.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your advice in respect of a sub judice matter. On the Order Paper for this afternoon is a motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition concerning the government of London. Police inquiries are now taking place within the housing department of the Labour-controlled London borough of Hackney. Will it be in order during today's debate for any right hon. or hon. Member to refer to the alleged corruption that has taken place in the London borough of Hackney's housing department? May we, or may we not, speak on that matter?

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

As far as I am aware, no criminal charges have been brought, so it would be legitimate to raise the matter in the House.