Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 2nd March 1994.

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

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker.

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

I do not need bogus points of order. I want a point of order from Mr. George Foulkes.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

I am grateful, Madam Speaker. The Minister of State, the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), refused to answer a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) on some spurious grounds. Would he, on the same grounds, refuse to answer a question from the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath)? Would he refuse to answer—

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

Order. I did say I did not want a bogus point of order. The hon. Gentleman might have something to say about the manner in which questions are answered, but that does not constitute a point of order.

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

Order. That does not constitute a point of order. If there is a point of order, I will listen to it. I have to deal with the point of order. It has to be something that I can deal with.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

I am grateful to you, Madam Speaker. Members of the House, are elected, represent their constituents and have every right to have their questions answered. Is it not within your power to direct Ministers to answer those questions?

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

The hon. Gentleman knows that the Speaker of this House cannot direct Ministers—or Back Benchers for that matter. All Ministers, all Back Benchers, are responsible for the comments that they make.

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

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The ballot for motions and the box and book are kept in the No Lobby from half-past 2 and the normal closing time should be half-past 3. Do you not think that the latecomers' queue that forms in front of you and obscures our view of you should now be ruled out of order because it also militates against the more assiduous of us who get in there and put our names down earlier?

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

That is the most— [Interruption.] I must answer that because it is the best point of order I have had for a very long time. I have always been annoyed when Members like this— [Interruption.]— interfere in the business in the Chamber. I believe very firmly that the box should remain out until half-past 3, and at half-past 3 the procedure should be finished with. As those are the procedures at the moment, I have to allow Members to do this, but I certainly deprecate what is happening at the present time. I understand I can now stop it. In that case, I am going to. Finished.

Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I was standing for virtually every question during Question Time. I was the only Conservative Member standing at the last question and you had not called an end to Question Time before the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) got up on a point of order. Is that correct parliamentary procedure?

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

Yes, I watch the clock very carefully. I know that the hon. Gentleman is very assiduous at Question Time. It is not possible for me to call all Members, but I know how keen he is. It had reached half-past 3. There was nothing further that I could do.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

Does it not say in "Erskine May" that a Minister has a responsibility to give an answer, and did not the junior Minister at the Foreign Office give the impression to the House that he would not answer my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway)? Surely he has to provide an answer. Some people may not like that answer, but I think that he has a duty to provide one.

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

As far as I heard, the Minister did answer— [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Order. The Minister did answer; it was the content that the hon. Gentleman did not like.

Photo of George Galloway George Galloway , Glasgow Hillhead

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I know that you will not comment on the rudeness and the lack of parliamentary manners shown by the Minister of State, which is legendary among Members on both sides of the House. However, if you consult the record you will see that the answer that the Minister of State gave was a stricture that I should abstain from asking questions in the House. Will you confirm that I have as much right as any other hon. Member to ask any question that is in order on behalf of my constituents? Leaving aside the question of manners, will you confirm that I have that parliamentary right and that you will uphold it?

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

The hon. Gentleman certainly has that right and that is why I call him on what may be regarded as a number of contentious issues—I want to hear all points of view expressed in the House.

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

Order. I think that I have heard enough.

Photo of Mr Graham Riddick Mr Graham Riddick , Colne Valley

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Further to the point of order, Madam Speaker.

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

Order. There is no further point of order. I have just given a ruling on the issue.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

There is another aspect.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

I am most grateful to you, Madam Speaker. You are most reasonable, as always.

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

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be equally reasonable.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Invariably, Madam Speaker. There is another aspect. By what right does the Minister claim that he can refuse to answer a question because he disagrees with an hon. Member's views? In the House of Commons that is wholly unacceptable and although, of course, you cannot reprimand this little Minister, perhaps he will have heard what I have to say and listen to my wise advice.

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

As I said, the Minister answered. What grieves some hon. Members is the answer that was given, which is not a matter for the Chair.

Photo of Mr Graham Riddick Mr Graham Riddick , Colne Valley

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I want to get back to this box. The box for the ballot for motions is always placed in the No Lobby. That might give an unfair advantage to Labour Members because at least some of them enter the Chamber via the No Lobby whereas we on the Government Benches enter through the Aye Lobby. Will you consider putting the box in the Aye Lobby next time?

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

I think that that would be far too confusing for hon. Members. The box will remain in one Lobby. Most hon. Members have been here long enough to know where to find it, so it stays in the No Lobby. We have the ballot now; let us see who is lucky.

Ballot for Notices of Motion for Friday 18 March

Members successful in the ballot were:

Mr. Richard Alexander

Sir Jim Spicer

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

I wish that hon. Members would write more clearly. The third name looks like "Nicholson", but the Clerks are good at reading hon. Members' writing. It looks like David Nicholson; he should write better next time.

Mr. David Nicholson