Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 3 April 2001.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield 3:31, 3 April 2001

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Jane Kennedy), answered Question 30 by referring me to a previous answer, given some time ago. It may not have been out of order, but do you think it proper that she should do that in answer to an oral question, without at least informing me that she was going to do so, thus preventing me from looking up the answer to which she referred?

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

As the hon. Gentleman well knows, I have no responsibility for the content of ministerial answers. None the less, it is helpful to the free flow of Question Time if an answer is readily understandable by all Members seeking to take part in the exchanges. I will look into the issue raised and write to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls Conservative, Teignbridge

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance on a matter that I raised with you on a point of order yesterday—my inability to find out from the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the circumstances in which a landfill site in my constituency was to be used to bury carcases. It is now some five days since I wrote to the Minister asking him to tell me what was going on. I have tried writing to him, e-mailing him and sending him post in the normal way. Even though you have never been contaminated by service in government, can you give Back Benchers some guidance on what to do when Ministers simply will not answer letters?

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

Like the hon. Gentleman, I used to be a Back Bencher, and all I can say is that he must keep pestering the Minister.

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

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is grave anxiety in my constituency about the proposals on whether to vaccinate. Have you had any indication from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food—or, indeed, from the Prime Minister—on whether they intend to make a statement, given that we were told before last weekend that the Government would take a decision on that very serious issue in the next few days? We have reached that point; my constituents are waiting; and there is deep anxiety about the uncertainty and lack of clarity on this difficult issue.

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

I can understand the hon. Gentleman's problem, but it is not a matter for the Chair.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce Conservative, South Dorset

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had any notice of a Minister in the Department of Health coming to the House to give Members information on food safety? You will remember that the previous Government were criticised in the reports on BSE for dealing with food safety in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, so food safety was transferred to the Department of Health, which now deals with it; yet in all this crisis, not a single Health Minister has made a statement on food safety issues—which, of course, affect everyone—if only to reassure hon. Members that there is no such problem with foot and mouth.

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

I am sure that Health Ministers will take note of what the hon. Gentleman says.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you been asked whether a statement could be made by one of the Ministers in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions about the grant of £1.2 billion to Railtrack? The company has immediately said that it is not enough, but the House of Commons should at least have some idea of what is being proposed.

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

No application to make a statement has been received.