On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you received a request from the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions to make a statement in the House on the announcement sneaked out only yesterday evening that £100 million is being diverted from the neighbourhood renewal fund into an emergency package to hold down council tax in marginal labour areas because increases of three times the rate of inflation are threatening dozens of Labour-held constituencies?
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Many of the questions asked during today's Treasury questions were about not Government policy but Opposition policy. I believe that Back Benchers' questions to Ministers are supposed to be about Government policy. I should be grateful for your guidance on the matter, especially as such guidance will be needed after the general election, when Conservative Members will be sitting on the Government Benches.
It is not for me to comment on that matter, but the hon. Gentleman will have heard me make it clear that Ministers are not responsible for Conservative party policy. I have also made statements on that matter.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You had cause to intervene on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to draw his attention to that fact, but I am afraid to say that your intervention had little effect on him and the rest of his team. May I ask you to intervene rather more promptly when Ministers go out of order in their answers in future?
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On 3 December 1998, the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) answered a question that I had tabled. He said:
Since becoming Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, I have had one meeting with the Hindujas on 6 October.—[Official Report, 3 December 1998; Vol. 321, c. 291W.]The Mirror today contains a statement by Darin Jewell, who says:
I helped draw up the agenda for the meeting at the end of August 1998 and we had a checklist of about 13 discussion points and naturalisation was one of the items at the top.
If he is correct, the right hon. Gentleman must have lied to me in his answer. How can we get to the truth?
I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that no hon. Member would lie. He knows that. I am not responsible for statements that Ministers or, indeed, hon. Members make.
Further to the points of order, Mr. Speaker, that were raised by my hon. Friends the Members for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) and for Reigate (Mr. Blunt). Although everyone recognises and respects that your judgment is paramount in the Chamber, my hon. Friends made salient points. Will you confirm that if the Chancellor were again to burble inanely about matters for which he is not responsible—or, indeed, if any other Minister were to do so—you would consider your power to issue a red card and immediately to dismiss that Minister from the Chamber?