Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 9th May 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 3:32 pm, 9th May 2006

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As you will know, the Identity Cards Act 2006 received Royal Assent on 30 March this year. The Government described it as one of their "flagship Bills", which was designed to protect us from and to deter all manner of crimes, such as terrorism, benefit fraud, identity fraud, breaches of immigration law and other serious crime. Now is not the time to rehearse the arguments that I deployed against that piece of legislation in the time permitted to us by the Government since last June. Have you, Mr. Speaker, received a request not from the old Home Secretary, but from the new Home Secretary to make a statement to the House explaining the Government's incompetence in repealing by means of the Identity Cards Act 2006 section 5 of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, under which it was an offence punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment to possess with intent to deceive forged passports and other travel documents, money orders, postal orders, postage stamps, Inland Revenue stamps, share certificates, cheques, travellers cheques, bankers drafts, debit and credit cards and certified copies of entries in certain registers such as those for births, deaths and marriages? Does that chaos not demonstrate, Mr. Speaker, that the Government are utterly out of control—

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

Order. In points of order in the House, you do not get paid by the word. The hon. and learned Gentleman is making a political point, but I cannot be drawn into a political argument. I shall leave him to reflect on what I have said.

Photo of Michael Weir Michael Weir Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Among the 14 written statements published in the Order Paper this morning is one on helicopter search and rescue that has the effect of announcing the privatisation of the helicopter search and rescue service. That causes a great deal of concern among coastal communities around the country. I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on whether that statement should have been made on the Floor of the House to allow Members to question the Minister on that policy instead of being sneaked out in a written statement in this manner.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Chair, Treasury Sub-Committee

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had any early notification of a Government statement on the growing impact of the university pay dispute? Given that the graduation prospects of some 300,000 students, including those in your own constituency, are now in jeopardy, would not you expect an early statement from the new Secretary of State?

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have always been very good at defending the rights of this House to ensure that statements by Ministers are made first to this House, not to the media in advance of the House being informed. I have been given a written answer by the former Leader of the House, now the Minister for Europe, Mr. Hoon, dated 4 May, in which he says:

"It has been the practice of successive Governments to release specific reports and other documents under timed embargo to assist the media in its coverage."—[ Hansard, 4 May 2006; Vol. 446, c. 1727W.]

He goes on to explain that that is in advance of Parliament being informed in the Chamber. May I ask you to reflect on whether that breaks the spirit of the ruling that you have consistently given whereby this House should be informed first, before the media? Is not it wrong to give the media embargoed statements?

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

This practice has been on the go for a long time. As the hon. Gentleman has said, the matter is embargoed and the media must respect that embargo.

Photo of Jim Devine Jim Devine Labour, Livingston

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As you know, I am a new boy here, and I am not yet au fait with procedures. However, I am aware that if one has recorded something in the Register of Members' Interests, one must declare that interest if one takes part in a debate or vote. As we are going on to a debate on health, should not Conservative Members declare whether they are covered by private medical insurance schemes or use the national health service?