§ Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Order Paper for today contains a written question, No. 312, the answer to which is not yet available to the House. The question deals with a matter of grave public importance, namely, the increase in summary fines under section 143 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980. Many of us will have learnt the details of the written answer through the newspapers this morning, or heard them on the radio programme, on which a junior Minister gave the details.
This is a matter of great importance to many of our citizens who will be affected by the increase in fines and whose ability to pay may be affected; indeed, their liberty may be at stake. Should not such a matter be dealt with by an oral statement, so that hon. Members who have views on it can bring them to the attention of the Minister concerned?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) tabled a written question, No. 312, and it has been answered.
On the general point about answers being available to the press before being made available to the House, the House knows my strong views. I believe that the House should always hear the answers first before they are given to the press.