HC Deb 21 March 1984 vol 56 c1048

3.30 pm

Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Is it relevant to questions?

Mr. Nellist

Yes. Now that the Prime Minister is back in the Chamber, and following your ruling yesterday, Mr. Speaker, on the Attorney-General's statement on picketing on Friday, which, as I understand it, was a sub judice matter involving Kent miners wishing to travel within the south midlands area of the National Coal Board to visit pits outside my constituency in Coventry, can you give me guidance and, through you, Mr. Speaker, may I ask two questions? First, how is it that Members of Parliament can ask questions on the interpretation of the legal definition of picketing when the Attorney-General's answers are put in written form on a Friday morning and are therefore not open to oral supplementary questions? Secondly, now that the matter is no longer sub judice, can you confirm that the Table Office will accept written questions on the Attorney-General's statement, as I understand that it was not prepared to do that yesterday because the Kent miners were still trying to defend their jobs from MacGregor's axe?

Mr. Speaker

I really have nothing to add to what I said yesterday. If the matter is sub judice we cannot ask questions about it in the House. I made that plain yesterday and the whole House understands it. As to the written answer by the Attorney-General, which I have now seen but had not seen yesterday, I am not responsible for answers that are given in written or oral form. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to put down questions he should try to do so. I am sure that his ingenuity will enable him to do that.