§ Mr. D. E. Thomas (Meirionnydd, Nant Conwy)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the restrictions on the movement and slaughter of sheep, made by the Secretary of State for Wales and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with effect in north Wales and Cumbria,"—known in Welsh as Yr Hen Ogledd—and the environmental and economic implications of this action.I raise this issue because on Friday afternoon the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made the most important statement on agriculture that has been made in this place during the period that I have been a Member of it. The statement has the most serious implications of an environmental nature, including radioactive pollution. in north Wales and Cumbria. It has serious economic implications for 4,000 farmers in north Wales and about 1,000 in Cumbria.
The initial statement was made on Friday, when most of the hon. Members representing the affected constituencies, including myself — perhaps I represent the constituency which is the most affected—were in their constituencies. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet Welsh Office civil servants on Friday to discuss the matter, but that is no substitute for a debate in the House. I request urgently that my application be granted.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the restrictions on the movement and slaughter of sheep, made by the Secretary of State for Wales and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with effect in north Wales and Cumbria, and the environmental and economic implications of this action.I regret that I must give the hon. Gentleman the same answer as I gave to the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel). I do not consider that it is a matter that is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10 and I cannot, therefore, submit his application to the House.
§ Mr. Brynmor John (Pontypridd)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made a statement in the House on Friday about caesium levels in young lambs. As a result, the House was left with the clear impression that the high levels were a recent development. However, in the weekend press, and again in today's press, there were ministerial concessions that Ministers had known of similar levels for about a month. As the House was left with a false impression, Mr. Speaker, I urge you to use your good offices to secure the debate for which I asked last Friday, or, at the very least, an oral statement setting the record straight. Any proposal to extend intensive monitoring to Scotland and Northern Ireland, which has been rumoured, should be announced orally to the House, preferably in a more full and frank manner.
§ Mr. D. E. Thomas
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. How is it possible for us, as Members 29 representing constituents affected in this way, to be informed of such statements? It is intolerable that major statements, with substantial economic effects for our constituents, should be made on Fridays. It is also intolerable that the Minister who has responsibility for agricultural policy in Wales has not yet spoken in the House on the matter, although he speaks on the subject regularly on television.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have put down a question for written answer by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which should cover the point made by the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John). May I say to the Leader of the House, through you, Mr. Speaker, that it would not be regarded by me as any discourtesy, but indeed entirely proper, if the Minister responsible made an oral statement.
§ Mr. Speaker
Friday is a full working parliamentary day. There is nothing wrong with a statement being made on a Friday. On the question of a debate, I ruled on the application under Standing Order No. 10 that it did not meet all the criteria laid down by the Standing Order. There are other ways that the hon. Member can use to seek a debate on such an important matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I shall take first the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks), who has notified me that he wishes to raise a point of order.