HC Deb 17 May 1989 vol 153 c334
Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I refer to the manner in which the announcement concerning the future of the national engineering laboratory at East Kilbride has been dealt with by the Minister concerned. I ask for your views, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on the practice whereby Government Ministers arrange for one of their right hon. or hon. Friends who has no connection with the constituency involved to put down a question on a topic dramatically affecting the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride (Mr. Ingram). You must agree, Mr. Speaker, that that practice is deplorable. What is wrong with the Government telling my hon. Friend of their decision and then allowing him to put down a question, so that he would receive a reply rather than an English Conservative Member? Would that not be more considerate in the difficult circumstances confronting the constituency Member concerned? It is a final insult when an hon. Member representing a constituency 600 or 700 miles away, and who has never been in East Kilbride in his life, puts down a question and receives a ministerial reply affecting the livelihods of 400 or 500 people in the constituency of one of my hon. Friends.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps it would be unwise of me to express a view on the hon. Gentleman's remarks, but I take note of them and have some sympathy with his point of view.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, can your remark about it being unwise to comment be interpreted as meaning that in your public and private capacity you deplore what has been done as being incredibly bad manners towards the House of Commons? Is it not a fact that even going back as far as Jack Maclay, the Viscount Muirshiel, whenever Secretaries of State for Scotland had difficult information to impart to Labour Members, they were invited to the Scottish Office and the Minister responsible had the good manners to explain beforehand what was about to happen? Is not one of the Government's problems that they lack good manners?

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps I should reinforce my observation that it is unwise for Mr. Speaker to say too much about his own views.