HC Deb 11 December 1991 vol 200 cc879-80 4.48 pm
Several Hon. Members

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am on my feet.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Call Mr. Skinner.

Mr. Speaker

Sit down, please.

I shall bear in mind some—I emphasise "some"—of those hon. Members who have not been called today when it comes to the debate next week.

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is no need to point out to you the extent to which women are under-represented in the House, and many women will be disappointed to note that, on an agreement affecting the female population—especially in relation to maternity rights and pay—we have not had a proper hearing today. I hope that you will do something about it.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Lady is complaining about the fact that she was not called. She knows, as she is an Opposition Front-Bench spokesman——

Mrs. Fyfe

No, I am not.

Mr. Speaker

If she is not, she should be. I thought that she was a Front-Bench spokesman. I will bear her very much in mind when we debate the matter next week.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you consider what you have just said? Front-Bench spokemen also represent their constituents, and their constituents are as entitled to be heard on this matter as they are——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I entirely agree and I do not exclude them wholly. However, I bear in mind the fact that Front-Bench spokemen have an automatic right to speak on their subject from the Front Bench—and sometimes at considerable length.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of what you have just said, are you likely to be more generous to members of the Whips Office who may wish to speak in a debate?

Mr. Speaker

I am very generous to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I know that the hon. Gentleman is going to be helpful.

Mr. Ewing

I raise a point of order in relation to Scottish questions. In accordance with the procedures of the House, two weeks ago today I tabled a question asking the Secretary of State for Scotland to meet Scottish chief constables to discuss the need to inform the public about when nuclear waste material was passing through their areas. The question appeared as No. 16 on the Order Paper. The Scottish Office decided on Wednesday or Thursday of last week to transfer that question under the priority written procedure to the Secretary of State for Transport.

It is Wednesday today, and Scottish questions have been answered. Obviously, I did not receive an answer to my question from the Scottish Office and, even under the priority written procedure, I have not yet received an answer from the Secretary of State for Transport. Having tabled my question two weeks ago according to the procedures of the House, I have not yet received a reply. That is unfair.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has a legitimate complaint. I notice that the Government Whip is making a note. I am sure that he has recorded what the hon. Gentleman said. The hon. Gentleman should have received an answer by now.