Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 4:42 pm on 23rd November 1992.

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Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East 4:42 pm, 23rd November 1992

Further to the point of order that I sought to raise earlier, Madam Speaker. Can you help the House with respect to the refusal of the Minister of Agriculture to answer questions on the GATT agricultural agreement, bearing in mind that hundreds of thousands of food and agricultural jobs in this country are involved, as is the case in France and throughout the European Community?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman and the House are aware that, as Speaker, I have no authority or responsibility to call a particular Minister to the Dispatch Box to answer those questions. If I had that responsibility, it might look as though I was selecting favourites.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

I am grateful for your reply, Madam Speaker. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House will appreciate that hon. Members on both sides of the House want to question the Minister of Agriculture on important agricultural issues.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce , South Dorset

I rise to seek your guidance on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have given notice to the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) that I am about to raise this matter. When documents are quoted from by Ministers in this House it is the normal practice for that document to be available through the Library of the House. Can I draw your attentionto column 208 of the Official Report of the debate on Tuesday 17 November, when the hon. Member for Bradford, North said that he was quoting from a DTI document that had been published only overseas in overseas missions? When challenged as to the veracity of what he was quoting from, he said he would see me outside to give me a copy.

I have seen the hon. Gentleman on five occasions outside and written to him, and I still have not got the document. I wonder whether you could give some guidance as to how we could get this matter clarified.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Really, I do get some points of order. That really is a matter between the hon. Members concerned. The hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) has promised the hon. Gentleman a document. Perhaps he will pursue it in order to obtain that document, but let me inform the hon. Gentleman and the House that, when a member of the Opposition or any Back Bencher makes reference to an official document, they do not have to lay it on the Table as a Minister has. Those are the rules of our House, and those are the rules of our proceedings.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

Earlier today, a woman from Derbyshire rang me and said that she had had a fire on Friday and has to foot the bill herself. "Will you ask a Minister to stand up at the Dispatch Box," she asked, "and say that the Government are going to pay my bill as well as the Queen's?" I think that it is utterly wrong that the taxpayer—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows very well that that is not a point of order for the Chair.