HC Deb 15 November 1983 vol 48 cc729-30
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to raise a matter that is of importance and concern to all hon. Members. It involves the use of stationery and official-paid envelopes and, in particular, the effect of the guidance contained in the 1975–76 and 1977–78 reports of the Services Committee on the use of stationery for party-political purposes.

A near resident in my borough drew my attention to a letter that had been sent out by my neighbour the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) at the end of October. It seems to have been one of a number of letters entitled Meeting of All Peckham Labour Party School Governors at Camden Tenants' Hall, Camden Estate, London SE15, on Wednesday, 23rd November 1983, at 7.30 pm. It states: Once again the Tory Government is attacking the Inner London Education Authority. First, they aim to cut ILEA's spending which would result in sacking teachers and poorer education. Second, they plan to break up ILEA altogether. Previous attempts to undermine ILEA have floundered because of a united campaign by all those who care about our children's future and adult education. The campaign to fend off this latest attack is on the way. In conjunction with the Peckham Labour Governors' Convener (John Maurice), and Southwark's Socialist Education Association (Steve Burt), I am calling a meeting which I hope all Peckham Governors will attend. We will be joined by Ruth Gee, ILEA's Deputy Leader"—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman need not read out the letter; he has sent me a copy.

Mr. Hughes

The letter was sent out in a House of Commons pre-paid envelope and on notepaper with the portcullis on it. There was a pre-paid card for reply. All of us need to know to what extent we are governed by the Select Committee's guidance as to where political purposes begin and end, and whether we can use material that has been provided, or purchased by hon. Members and which has the House of Commons insignia, for political, as opposed to parliamentary purposes.

Ms. Harriet Harman (Peckham)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, I should welcome any guidance that you may wish to give me or the House. However, the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) was referring to a meeting of local governors to protect our children's education. I offered to discuss the matter with your Office, Mr. Speaker, in order not to detain the House, but the hon. Gentleman insisted on raising a point of order. [Interruption.] Clearly he and I have a different interpretation of protecting our constituents' interests. Mine is to call a meeting of local school governors, while his is to abuse the procedures of the House by raising a point of order as a publicity stunt.

Mr. Speaker

I shall look into the case. I remind all hon. Members of the recommendation of the Services Committee on the use of House of Commons stationery and post-paid envelopes. Extracts of it are available in a leaflet entitled, "House of Commons Stationery and Post-Paid Envelopes", which is issued by the Serjeant at Arms.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Was that a legitimate point of order? We could all raise all sorts of issues by saying "On a point of order" and then complaining about another hon. Member. Was the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) legitimate?

Mr. Speaker

I heard it as a legitimate point of order. We do not want to make too much of the issue, but the guidelines are plain and clear. I hope that all right hon. and hon. Members will abide by them.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you draw the attention of the Select Committee dealing with accommodation to the fact that a silly taxi is invariably parked in the car park every morning when I arrive at the House? It has got stickers on it. Is it not time that that monstrosity was moved?

Mr. Speaker

I doubt whether that is a matter for me.

  1. STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS, &c. 87 words