§ Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)
I beg leave to present a petition on behalf on the residents of the Uxbridge parliamentary constituency. The petition shewethThat concern about proposals from the European Commission to allow the export of horses for slaughter after 1992 be brought to the attention of Her Majesty's Government.Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House will urge her Majesty's Government to ensure that the European Commission's proposals for a new regulation covering the welfare of animals during transport permit the United Kingdom to retain minimum value controls, or similar arrangements, on the export of horses and ponies for slaughter, which are embodied in the 1981 Animal Health Act, and calls upon the Government to make sure that our partners in the European Community understand that the United Kingdom's view is based entirely on welfare concerns and not on economic arguments.And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
§ To lie upon the Table.9.36 am 1216
§ Mr. King
Indeed it is, Mr. Speaker. It is normal practice, is it not, that when an honourable colleague in this House is doing what one might call porridge, or has been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure, or for whatever reason, you make a statement to that effect? Has it been communicated to you that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields) is in prison? If not, ought you not to send out a rescue party? I understand that he is spending time in prison.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman knows that every hon. Member is subject to the law, but I have yet to receive a communication from the court.
§ Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would not it be in order for you to point out, just in case it crosses the minds of Conservative Members, that, according to the rules of the House, there is no question of disqualification of a Member who is sentenced to a custodial sentence of less than one year? The last time that that happened was with John Stonehouse. To my recollection, not one Conservative Member called for any action to be taken against any of the Ulster Unionist Members who also served periods in prison—seven of them, I think, for a period of seven days each—for their refusal to pay either the road fund licence or the TV licence, due to their opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
For my part, for that of other hon. Members on this side of the House—though not universally, I accept—and also for my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields), who is unable to speak for himself this morning, I would point out that if his action keeps one pensioner out of prison—one pensioner in Preston had a heart attack last month—it will be worth it.
§ Mr. Speaker
These are not matters for the House, but I can confirm that a sentence of less than a year does not involve expulsion.