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Nomination of Select Committees

– in the House of Commons at 7:27 pm on 10th March 2004.

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Motion made,

That the Standing Orders be amended as follows:—

(1) In Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business), line 18, leave out from 'committees' to 'which' in line 20 and insert 'to which that paragraph applies'.

(2) In Standing Order No. 121 (Nomination of select committees), line 10, leave out from 'under' to ', or' in line 13 and insert 'the Standing Orders of this House (with the exception of the Liaison Committee, the Committee of Selection, the Committee on Standards and Privileges and any Committee established under a temporary Standing Order).'—[Charlotte Atkins.]

Hon. Members:

Object.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I rise to seek your guidance on what is acceptable parliamentary language when referring to another Member. Earlier today, Lembit Öpik was referred to in a manner that many people would consider gratuitously nasty. That demeans the reputation of this House, is not appreciated by our constituents and does not contribute to debate. What reassurance can you give us that you will not tolerate such language in future?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

I do my best to ensure temperate language in the House at all times. Obviously, I need the co-operation of every hon. Member, and such co-operation is not always the case. But I shall look at the record and write to the hon. Gentleman to see what we can do.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I fully understand the level of stress that Mr. Skinner must feel as he observes from directly across the Floor Liberal Democrats in ever-increasing numbers. May I suggest through you that, for the sake of his health and everyone's safety, he be asked to sit somewhere else?

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was sitting in this corner seat when Lembit Öpik had got nappies on. I am still here and I shall be here when he has gone—done and dusted.

Now then, I am very interested in this wonderful Tory-Liberal pact. I have been waiting years for it and now it has burst out. What a funny crowd they are. Get to bed. [Laughter.]

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

I sat next to Mr. Skinner in that corner, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of remarks that were never put on the record—thanks be to God. [Laughter.] All that I can say to Lembit Öpik is that I have never seen the hon. Member for Bolsover being stressed at any time.

Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I seek your guidance on, and protection from, impersonation of Members of this House? It has been drawn to my attention that in the Strangers' Cafeteria book, it has been alleged that "Bob Russell" made derogatory comments about Fair Trade chocolate and urged Members to eat Mars bars instead. [Laughter.]

Normally, such a bit of jesting would be all right, but I believe that there was malicious intent. The information was conveyed to the London Evening Standard, which regrettably did not check the story. It has attributed to me comments that I take seriously. I support the Fair Trade industry and any suggestion that I do not is derogatory to me. I therefore seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. The hon. Gentleman has explained his concerns to the House. It is, of course, not a point that the Chair can rule on. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman contact the director of catering services and the Chairman of the Catering Committee to ask them to investigate this very serious matter.