Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 20 March 2001.

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Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory Conservative, Wells 3:30, 20 March 2001

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Trade and Industry has in its possession a report into the affairs of a company called Hollis Industries plc. That company was also the centre of a separate investigation by the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges because of an allegation that an hon. Member had received an undisclosed payment of £200,000. The Committee, at the time, was unable fully to resolve the matter because of a lack of information.

The point of order is that that information does exist and that it forms part of the report which is held by the Department of Trade and Industry. However, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is refusing to publish the report, despite the fact that he has legal powers to do so under section 449 of the Companies Act 1985. The matter therefore constitutes a cover-up for the political convenience of the Government.

Mr. Speaker, can you tell me whether you have received from the Government an indication that they will now explain themselves to the House or provide the necessary documents, so that the House and its Select Committee can get to the bottom of this tangled web of relationships and payments between the late Robert Maxwell and the Labour party and Government of today?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

I have received no approach. That is all I can tell the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Adoption and Children Bill was published last Thursday, 15 March. On the front cover it states: Explanatory Notes to the Bill … will be published separately as Bill 66". The notes are still unavailable in the Vote Office, despite the fact that, yesterday, the Minister of State, Department of Health, the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), said that they would be made available. Consideration on Second Reading will occur next Monday, but the lack of those notes is making preparation for it extremely difficult.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

That is a matter for the Government. However, I hope that those documents are promptly made available to the hon. Lady and to any other hon. Member who is interested in the matter.