Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 20th June 1991.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West 4:31 pm, 20th June 1991

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You may recall, Mr. Speaker, that last Thursday during a point of order I raised with you the early day motion sponsored by the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), which included the precise and lull home address of Councillor Mike Crosby. At that time, you rightly said that the text of an early-day motion is the responsibility of any right hon. or hon. Member who sponsors it. I ask you to reflect on that ruling, bearing in mind the extremely considered letter which was dated yesterday and sent to you by Councillor Crosby and which you should have received today. In that letter, Councillor Crosby rightly maintains that the inclusion of his lull address in no way added to the substantive text of the motion. Indeed, he and others regard the inclusion of his address as an incitement to other to intrude on his and his family's—

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

Order. It has never been the practice of the House for correspondence to the Speaker to be revealed by another hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to reflect on the rules concerning early-day motions? It would be extremely helpful if you could consider introducing a rule whereby the Table Office would advise right hon. and hon. Members who intended to include in such a motion the address of a private individual that it would be unwise to do so. I ask you to consider that, bearing in mind the important point made by Councillor Crosby in his letter to you.

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

I do not underestimate that point in any way. I am certainly considering the councillor's letter. My problem is that we have freedom of speech in this place and it is not for the Chair to censor motions provided that they are in order. I can only repeat that hon. Members who use their freedom of speech in this place should do so with great discretion.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should be grateful if you would direct the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) to give me an apology today, and now. I have just been made aware from what he said that this is the second time that he has raised on the Floor of the House the early-day motion tabled in my name. At no time during the past few days has the hon. Gentleman attempted to contact me by letter or by telephone or through the Whips' Office or any of the agencies in the House.

I left the Chamber 10 minutes ago after my part in business questions, and after performing the usual courtesy of remaining in the Chamber to hear the hon Members who followed me. I found a note from the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) informing me that he intended to raise this matter today. Had you, Mr. Speaker, called me last today, I should have had no warning of the point of order. Had I been absent from the Chamber, and in and around my Dartford constituency, I should not have known of it.

On another point, further to the point of order, there is no question that among Opposition Members—this will be made crystal clear to Councillor Crosby—there is no dissent from any part of the early-day motion except the reference to the address. That clearly means that there is no support for Councillor Crosby and his actions from Opposition Members.

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

If the hon. Gentleman was given notice that this matter would be raised, that is in line with our conventions.

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

Well, I will call Mr. Banks first, just in case.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

The point that I want to make, further to the point of order, is that it is all very well for the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) to talk about courtesies inside the House. I should have thought that the House should afford certain courtesies to people outside. To put someone's address in an early-day motion can be interpreted only as maliciousness on the part of the hon. Member for Dartford. Of course we have free speech, but we also have rules about early-day motions. There is not absolute licence here. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that one of the rules that should now be applied is that we do not put people's personal addresses in contentious early-day motions.

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

It would not be for me to impose a rule on the House. That would have to be done through the Select Committee on Procedure.

Photo of Mr Terry Dicks Mr Terry Dicks , Hayes and Harlington

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is a bit hypocritical of Opposition Members to raise that matter, bearing in mind that the Labour party in my constituency has taken photographs of my home, which was very unwelcome for security reasons. Opposition Members should put their own house in order before they start criticising others.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Just by chance, I was in Dartford last Friday. As the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) knows, I was involved in a public meeting there and met Councillor Mike Crosby. The people there told me about the early-day motion—indeed, they have a copy. Although, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) said, it is believed by some people to be wrong to print the name and address of the person concerned, I must make the point that the motion concerned the non-payment of poll tax. The truth is that Councillor Mike Crosby had paid his poll tax and I saw all the receipts, so the early-day motion is wrong.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Further to that point of order—

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

There is nothing further to add. I made my position clear in terms of order. I have no authority to change the rules of the House. The rules must be changed by the Select Committee on Procedure. There is no more to be said.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

The hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) gave the impression that I had not given him notice of the point of order. I left a note for him on the message board at 2.15 pm today saying that I intended to raise the matter on a point of order. I also tabled early-day motion 972 about the matter, asking the hon. Member for Dartford to withdraw his early-day motion and to apologise. I am sad that he has not taken the opportunity to do so today.