HC Deb 16 February 1988 vol 127 cc839-40 4.26 pm
Mr. Harold McCusker (Upper Bann)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. For three successive weeks now, very important talks have been taking place between this Government and the Government of the Irish Republic about matters affecting the vital interests of the people of Northern Ireland, matters of life and death for them and increasingly matters affecting people on the mainland as well. I appeal to you as a defender of Back-Bench and minority interests in this regard.

The role of Members of Parliament from Northern Ireland is already very circumscribed. The events of the past 54 minutes prove that. A very important statement was made. It does not apply to me; nor does it apply to my colleagues. In some obscure meeting in Fermanagh, a member of the Northern Ireland Office will tell the people of Northern Ireland what is going to happen to them, and we cannot even debate that. We are legislated for in a manner completely different from that applying to any other part of the United Kingdom, and we cannot amend that either.

If the only role left for me is to come here and try to make the colonial system of government which applies to Northern Ireland at least answerable to the elected representatives from Northern Ireland, will you tell me how I can do that, or can you confirm what Ministers refuse to confirm, that I do not have any role here, that I am now redundant?

Mr. Speaker

That is certainly not the case. I frequently hear the hon. Gentleman take part in our debates in this United Kingdom Parliament, and at Question Time too.

Ms. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North)

I rise again to ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you can give me any advice as to how we can do something to make sure that my constituent Claire Wise gets her operation in Birmingham. I have been in Birmingham all morning. There are four beds in the intensive care unit. One child has been prepared for an operation and there is no bed for him because there are no beds designated for intensive care for heart surgery. We desperately need to do something. We have had promises and undertakings from Ministers. Unless we get a statement on the Floor of the House about our individual constituents, and, more important, about immediate provision for that hospital in Birmingham, I am afraid that more children will die. I believe that we really must do something about this.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the same point—

Mr. Speaker

I know it will be the same point. Yes?

Mr. Winnick

My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) has explained admirably what the situation is at the children's hospital in Birmingham. I am very saddened, as we all are, that Matthew Collier, the son of my constituents, died at the hospital on Sunday. I am sure that all hon. Members will wish to extend their deepest sympathy to Mr. and Mrs. Collier and that Matthew will be remembered for a very long time in the west midlands.

There is an acute crisis at the children's hospital because of inadequate staffing and funding. My hon. Friend has referred to her constituents' child whose operation has been delayed again. Matthew's operation was delayed three times. Another child—

Mr. Speaker

Order. What is the point for me? It seems to me that these are political issues, which have nothing to do with the Chair. I have allowed the hon. Gentleman, out of sympathy for the loss of his constituents' child, to make those comments but, sad though they are, they have nothing to do with me as a matter of order.

Mr. Winnick

The point I am making is that we have a duty and an obligation to raise these matters on the Floor of the House. I would have wished that, following the private notice question on Friday, which I did not know was coming, the Minister would have made a statement in the House. There is this crisis to which my hon. Friend and I have been referring. There are parents who are desperately afraid that their children are going—

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Gentleman had been here on Friday when that question was answered, he would have been called. Although I have allowed him to raise the matter under the cloak of a point of order, these are political questions which are not for the Chair.