Programming of Bills (Suspension)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:34 pm on 17th June 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Shadow Science Minister 12:34 pm, 17th June 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I attempted to give you notice of this point, which is to do with how we deal with matters relating to the opinions, publicly or privately expressed, of the heir to the throne. You will be aware that "Erskine May" prevents us from assuming that members of the royal family have a private opinion, although the rule that prevents us from debating such matters is, apparently,

"not strictly applied in cases where one" member of the royal family

"has made a public statement on a matter of current interest so long as comment is made in appropriate terms."

When a private statement is made that seeks to lobby either the Executive or a third party, it is not clear what we can do as Members Parliament to engage with the issue, even when it is current in the media—on the airwaves and in the papers—or what we can do when we are asked by constituents to comment on the issue or to raise it in Parliament. What advice can you give Members of Parliament who wish to ensure that there is full transparency on matters of public policy or private matters affecting citizens or subjects of this country? Is this the only place where the opinions of the Prince of Wales, for example, cannot be debated?

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website