§ Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday at about 6.30 in the evening the Government placed in the Press Gallery a copy of the latest poverty figures for which the House has waited more than five years. The figures were sneaked out without reference to the House, without a press conference and without even a single ministerial comment on the press statement.
They are sensational figures. They rebut what the Prime Minister said a few moments ago about all sections of the population having gained. They show for the first time that the 10 million people in this country on the lowest incomes—[Interruption.]—were worse off in real terms in 1987 than they were in 1979—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. What is the point for me? Does the hon. Gentleman think that I can do anything about it?
§ Mr. Meacher
The Minister has so far refused to come to the House, and I am raising this point of order in an endeavour to ask you to use your good offices, Mr. Speaker, with the Government to ensure that they come forward with a statement urgently tomorrow so that the Minister who has evaded the House may now answer for his deplorable record.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member knows, as I think the whole House knows, that that is not a matter for me. But it will certainly have been heard by the Patronage Secretary on the Government Front Bench, and I am sure that it is a matter that he will calculate tomorrow.