Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 30th March 1998.

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Photo of Mr Tim Collins Mr Tim Collins Conservative, Westmorland and Lonsdale 3:30 pm, 30th March 1998

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Recently, there have been a number of occasions when you have had cause to give rulings on ways in which the press are informed of matters before the House is made aware of them. In that connection, I wonder whether you have had notification today of any intention by the Prime Minister to make a statement on the subject of his relationships with Mr. Rupert Murdoch, about which a great deal of rapidly changing information has been given to the press by his officials and on which the Prime Minister's officials have scandalously abused and insulted journalists who have written perfectly proper and accurate stories.

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

I am not aware that any Minister is seeking to make a statement today.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. We have a further example of the Government's attempt to ensure that the Executive has easy questions, as a result of a briefing that was supposed to take place in Room W1. On several questions this afternoon, the only hon. Members rising to ask supplementary questions were on the Opposition Benches. I know— [HON. MEMBERS: "Not true."] I am thinking of Questions 13 and 14, on which no one rose from the Government Benches. I know that it is custom and practice for you to alternate questions between Government and Opposition Members. Perhaps you will consider the position when no one from the two thirds of the House represented by the Government party will allow the third of us who represent Opposition parties to hold the Executive to account.

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

No. The hon. Gentleman is not correct. Mr. Miller rose on Question 13. I shall check the position on Question 14. More often than not— [Interruption.]Members rise. Let us have it correct. Mr. Miller rose on Question 13, as I have said. I am well aware of who rises. I keep a good balance in the House, which includes the minority parties, which will bear me out on this issue.

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

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I cannot believe what I am hearing about the idea that there are planted questions in Room W1. That is the Room which is occupied by the socialist Campaign Group. We meet every Wednesday night at 6 o'clock.

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

Internal party matters are not for me.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames Conservative, Mid Sussex

Further to the point of order of my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins), do you, Madam Speaker, not think it extraordinary that the Prime Minister has not made a statement on why he intervened on behalf of Mr. Murdoch in a commercial deal in Italy? Do you not think that the House has a right to hear an explanation? The issue has been so well aired in the press, yet not in the House.

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

That is not a matter for me. The hon. Gentleman is a long-standing Member and a former Minister. He knows full well that he is seeking a statement from a Minister. There are procedures by which he does that, and he does not use the Chair. The procedures are called the usual channels. If the hon. Gentleman does not know how to use them and if he comes to see me, I shall tell him how to do so.

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

I hope it will not be like the previous point of order.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Conservative, Buckingham

It is further to points of order raised by my hon. Friends, Madam Speaker, in respect of which I seek your guidance, and I shall be grateful for it. If it transpired that information relating to the relationship between the Prime Minister and Mr. Rupert Murdoch had been inaccurate, and that inaccurate information had entirely inadvertently been given to right hon. and hon. Members, would you, in such circumstances, expect the Prime Minister, as a matter of courtesy, to come to the House to put the record straight and to explain himself to right hon. and hon. Members?

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

The hon. Gentleman is not a long-standing Member of the House, but let me tell him now that I do not deal with hypothetical situations. He will know in future not to ask me hypothetical points of order.