HC Deb 11 December 1985 vol 88 c1008
Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I draw your attention to the extraordinary circumstances that have led to four of my Labour colleagues, including the Chairman of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie), to ask the Leader of the House to withdraw from the Committee. As you know, Mr. Speaker, there are strong feelings about the apparent breakdown of confidence and mutual trust, without which a Select Committee cannot operate. [Laughter.] Despite the laughter from Conservative Members, we consider that to be a serious problem.

I ask whether there will be a statement, preferably tomorrow, but certainly at an early stage, about the Government's intention on two aspects of the matter—first, how they intend to restore confidence in the Committee and reassure the House that it can operate untrammelled by any form of executive pressure; secondly, on the impact of the unfortunate tactics used in the Select Committee on the consideration being given by Ministers to the case for retaining Gartcosh. It is essential that we have a chance to hear Ministers' views, because there is a real danger that, if the House does not intervene, the failure of the Select Committee to reflect Scotland's commitment to the plant may encourage British Steel to take irreversible action during the recess.

Mr. Michael Forsyth (Stirling)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As a member of the Select Committee, I am astonished. The Committee did not come to a conclusion, because the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), whose constituency is affected, in common with the other members of the Labour party, voted down the Chairman's draft report. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think that that is a matter for me. Whether statements are to be made is also not a matter for me. The Leader of the House is present and no doubt has heard what has been said. If hon. Members wish to withdraw from the Committee, that is a matter for the Committee of Selection, not me. I cannot help.

Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)

Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. What the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) has said is inaccurate. It is not what happened in the Committee this morning.

Mr. Speaker

That may be true, but it is not a matter for me. We are about to debate a prayer, and the debate must end at 11.30 pm. The points of order take up time and none of the subjects that has been raised is a matter for me. I have said that if hon. Members withdraw from a Committee that is a matter for the Committee of Selection, not for the Chair. I cannot help.

Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, North-East)

I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker. When unsubstantiated and inaccurate charges are made from the Opposition Front Bench, what opportunities are open to hon. Members to put the correct case and the true version?

Mr. Speaker

There are plenty of opportunities, but that is not a matter for the Chair.