[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

– in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 11th May 2001.

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Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst 9:30 am, 11th May 2001

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On this, our last full parliamentary day, may I wish you every success in your parliamentary re-election campaign? I am sure that it will be smooth and uneventful, and will return you to us safely--or at least to those of us who will be here after the election.

I seek your advice, Mr. Speaker, because until 5 o'clock on Monday we will all be Members of Parliament and able to fulfil our duties correspondingly, but after that those of us who are seeking re-election will be mere candidates. I am pursuing our embassy in Rio de Janeiro on a matter on behalf of my constituent, Mr. Williams, and I get the feeling that the embassy is incompetent or, worse, stonewalling, possibly until it thinks that I am safely out of way as a Member of Parliament. Can you think of any way in which those of us who are in our dying hours as MPs, about to be reduced to mere candidates, can still exercise some influence on behalf of our former constituents with recalcitrant bureaucrats, diplomats and worse? Any help that you can give me and other Members will be much appreciated.

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

I would not advise the right hon. Gentleman to go personally to Rio de Janeiro to try to sort out the matter. He is a persistent individual, and all that I can advise is persistence. It is nice of a fellow Glaswegian to wish me well in the general election, and given that I am a non-party candidate the right hon. Gentleman is welcome to come up to Glasgow to give me a hand.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack Conservative, South Staffordshire

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Of course, as a non-Glaswegian, I endorse those sentiments. In view of my right hon. Friend's persistence and loquacity, could you arrange for the Chamber to be opened on Monday so that he can come here and speak until 5 o'clock?

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery Conservative, East Devon

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you been informed of any recommendation, decision or thought of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about keeping Members and ex-Members informed about foot and mouth disease, which is still serious in certain counties?

If I may, I will go furMr. Forth, and say that the House deserves to thank you for the difficult task, which you have taken on, of following a well-respected Speaker. You have certainly made your own mark, and I pay tribute to you for so doing. If you could help us on agriculture, it would be even better.

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

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his typical kindness to me. Like all hon. Members, I recognise that this is a terrible time for rural areas. Without taking sides, I can safely say that the Minister of Agriculture has been very good in coming to the House and giving an account of what is going on. He will take note of the fact that contact with, and easy access to, the Ministry has to be maintained throughout the election to ensure that rural communities are looked after in the best way possible. I think that is the most that I can say on the matter.

Before I start the main business, I acknowledge that there are many Members present, including right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, who are retiring. We will miss you all.