Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 30th October 2002.

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Photo of Mr Roy Beggs Mr Roy Beggs UUP, East Antrim 3:30 pm, 30th October 2002

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In reply to a question from me, the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, Jane Kennedy, said that

Xextensive consultation . . . showed almost universal support for the abolition of the 11-plus Transfer Tests"— in Northern Ireland—

Xand a predominant view that academic selection should be ended".—[Hansard, 28 October 2002; Vol. 391, c. 513W.]

I regret to say that, by providing that answer, the hon. Lady misled the House. I have already advised her office of my intention to raise the matter today.

If you, Mr. Speaker, were to read the Department of Education report on the responses to the consultation, you would find that only 57 per cent. of 200,551 household responses received by the Department supported the abolition of the transfer test, with 32 per cent. disagreeing and 12 per cent. undecided. Fifty-seven per cent. can hardly be regarded as, to use the Minister's words, Xalmost universal support".

On the question of whether academic selection should be ended, according to the Department of Education report—

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

Order. I get the feeling that the hon. Gentleman is making a speech. The Minister will have heard his points, but they are not a matter for the Chair.

Photo of Mr Roy Beggs Mr Roy Beggs UUP, East Antrim

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The evidence that I have indicates that the House has been misled. I request that you, sir, invite the Minister to come to the House to make an apology and clarify her interpretation of very clear results.

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

I have no such powers, but the Minister will be able to take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Shadow Minister (Defence)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you noticed that, because of the rescheduling of the provisional business that was due for this afternoon—the debate on home defence—tomorrow there will be a debate on home defence in the House and a debate on the foreign policy aspects of terrorism in Westminster Hall? There is, as you know, great concern among hon. Members on both sides of the House about those two closely interrelated topics. Is there anything that you can do to advise those who prepare the business of the House that in future such a clash should be avoided?

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

No, but the hon. Gentleman can certainly approach the Leader of the House.