– in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 27th November 1996.
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I ask you to write to the President of the French Parliament? Would you point out that we have 700 years of parliamentary tradition, and that we settle our disputes across the Dispatch Box by discussion and debate? Would you implore him to sort out France and ensure that the outrageous method of settling its disputes with barricades and physical violence is stopped? Could we have some sense in France?
That is not a point of order for me. The hon. Gentleman has very effectively put the point to Ministers over the past few days, and it is not for me to involve myself in those matters.
On a point of order, Madam Speaker, of which I have given you—and, out of courtesy, the Leader of the Opposition—notice. It involves allegations that, in his response to the Budget yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition used documents that were stolen. [Interruption.] If Opposition Members could just keep calm; I know that it is difficult.
I am sure that you, Madam Speaker, are much better at keeping calm than I.
I put my point to the right hon. Gentleman in column 175 of yesterday's Hansard. He made it quite clear that the matters to which he was referring had been published in press releases earlier. I checked with the Treasury today, and was told that there was no question that the information with which I was dealing and the right hon. Gentleman mentioned could possibly have been given to him unless it was from those stolen documents. The House deserves to know what really happened.
The hon. Gentleman probably deserves to know that, very often, in the Budget and other statements, all Governments of every complexion give the Opposition information in advance in order to help them.
I have not finished yet.
I have column 175 of yesterday's Hansard before me. The Leader of the Opposition referred to a press release. He said:
according to the press release … there will be 2,000 extra Inland Revenue civil servants",
and so on. The hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes) intervened. He said:
He has seen the press release.
The Leader of the Opposition said:
I am sorry, but these things have already been put out by the Government. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware of that"— [Official Report, 26 November 1996; Vol. 286, c. 175.]
There is no further point of order for me to answer.
Does the point of order concern another matter?
Yes. Having just listened to the Secretary of State for the Environment spell out the dire consequences for council tax payers of vast rises in England, has it been intimated to you that the Secretary of State for Scotland is coming to the House to explain the horrendous increases in council taxes and cuts in local services in Scotland as a result of yesterday's Budget?
If the Secretary of State for Scotland does so, I shall be here to listen to his statement.