Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 26 March 2001.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party 4:27, 26 March 2001

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Friday 16 March, Mr. Wilkinson had an Adjournment debate in which he highlighted, among other things, an important issue affecting schools in my constituency. I and my office have no record of any prior warning that he intended to travel beyond his constituency boundaries.

I would not normally raise this issue, as I have worked with the hon. Gentleman on issues of mutual interest to our constituents. However, members of his party in Harrow have suggested that it is normal for all MPs automatically to attend Adjournment debates. Given what I have read of the debate, I certainly would have wanted to attend and participate. Will you make it clear, Mr. Speaker, whether I should have been given prior notice of it and of his intention to touch on issues affecting my constituency? As I was not given any such notice, it is not surprising that I was attending to other matters of equal importance at the time.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am grateful to Mr. Thomas for informing me of his intention to raise this point of order. The subject that I dealt with in that debate was secondary education in west London. Hillingdon and Harrow are in west London, as are many other boroughs. As I mentioned in my speech, I was bound to range over issues that transcend borough boundaries.

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

I am grateful to Mr. Thomas for giving me notice of his point of order. He is quite right: it is an established parliamentary courtesy that a Member who intends to raise in debate--or, indeed, in a parliamentary question--a matter affecting another Member's constituency should give prior notification. End-of-day Adjournment debates are essentially between the Member concerned and the Minister. There is no obligation on any other Member to be present. Indeed, another Member may take part only with the agreement of the Member originating the debate, the Minister and, of course, the Chair.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Conservative, Eddisbury

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Agriculture said a number of times last week that briefings for MPs were available in the Government and Opposition Whips Offices, but, despite having made extensive inquiries on several matters of concern to constituents who need urgent answers, we have not received them. I would be grateful if you could urge the Minister to make those briefings available to Members.

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

I will look into the matter for the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have raised on several occasions the need for a parliamentary hotline. We must have someone in the Ministry of Agriculture whom we can contact with urgent constituency cases to make sure that they are looked into. I raised the matter three weeks ago, but there is still no contact in the Ministry. That simply is not good enough.

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

Once again, I will look into the matter and get back to both hon. Members.