HC Deb 17 January 1990 vol 165 cc342-5

Lords amendents considered.

7 pm

Mr. Jim Sillars (Glasgow, Govan)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, relating to the conduct of Government business and the business of the House. I hope that the Leader of the House will listen for a few seconds.

It may be unknown to most hon. Members that there has been a scandal surrounding the private life of a member of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, one of our most senior judges, which reflected upon his public persona to the point where he could not continue to sit on the judicial bench. That was followed by a resignation. I understand that today, senior figures in the legal and political establishment gave a briefing to newspaper editors of the Scottish press during which it emerged that allegations had been made about more than the individual who was required to resign on 1 January.

What is most worrying is that Scotland is rife with the rumour that tomorrow the Government will evade the issue by the device of a planted written question on the Order Paper to which the Secretary of State can reply without Scottish Members having the opportunity to debate the matter or to question the Secretary of State—who, in the absence of the Lord Advocate, is the responsible Minister in the House.

I should like you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on our behalf, to seek an assurance from the Leader of the House that there will be no such device as a planted written question on the Order Paper tomorrow but that, instead, there will be an oral statement to the elected Members of Parliament from Scotland of the same character and frankness that apparently was the case at the briefing of national newspaper editors today. This is a matter that concerns the highest judicial body in Scotland, and it must be dealt with in this House tomorrow afternoon through a statement.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I cannot deal with that matter during private business. However, the Leader of the House is on the Treasury Bench, and I am sure that he will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said.

Lords amendments Nos. 1 to 9 agreed to.

    1. Clause 14
      1. cc342-4
      2. FOR PROTECTION OF A.B. PORTS 988 words