HC Deb 29 June 1989 vol 155 cc1137-8

5.8 pm

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is the usual whinge. We had a very important statement today. Given the great forest of people who sought to catch your eye, it was quite impossible that they could all do so. All I ask is whether, the next time we have a very important statement by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister after a Council of Europe meeting, it would be possible to take some sort of list of those who sought to get in today, but who, quite understandably, were unfortunate in not being able to catch your eye.

Mr. Speaker

I well understand the hon. Gentleman's concern and distress about the matter. I do keep a list and I looked at it today. I will certainly continue to do so.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You cannot call every hon. Member. I was not called and I am not whingeing. I used a bit of ingenuity and raised the matter in business questions. The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) could have done the same if he had been smart enough.

On another point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have not raised the matter of the Rose theatre before because it has been left to others who deal with such cultural matters. It has been brought to my attention that it is high time that we had another statement from the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Skinner

I hear my hon. Friend saying, "Hear, hear." He knows about this. It is important that we have a statement, because there are possibly some connections which are a little unsavoury, to say the least, namely—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member should have raised this matter with the Leader of the House. I can arrange neither statements nor debates.

Mr. Skinner

It is a constitutional matter, Mr. Speaker. I want to know in what way I, or someone else, can raise this matter. A Member of the House of Lords, Lord McAlpine of West Green, treasurer of the Tory party and non-executive director of Imry Merchant Developers, may well be catching the ear of the Secretary of State for the Environment more than anyone else in this matter. Can I raise the matter here or should it be raised somewhere else? Is it a matter of privilege?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member should not raise the matter with me.

Mr. Tony Banks

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I will not whinge either about the ministerial statement. The Select Committee on Procedure is considering the scrutiny of EEC legislation and EEC matters. I know that, if there are complaints about timing, you will say that the business of the House is not your concern. It is, however, your prerogative to determine how long you will allow questions on a statement to continue. As the summits come up only once every six months, would not the ability of the House to scrutinise EEC matters be enhanced by allowing questions on those statements to continue for a sufficiently long time to enable all hon. Members—apart from me, of course—to ask the Prime Minister a question?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member knows that on this occasion I allowed questions on the Prime Minister's statement to continue for an hour. There was then another statement, on which questions ran for 50 minutes. We are about to consider the Second Reading of a Bill. As the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) correctly stated, it is impossible for every Member to be called. I do my best to be utterly fair. I do not think that the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) is a deprived citizen.