HC Deb 09 June 1992 vol 209 cc248-9

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the Motion in the name of Mr. Tony Newton relating to the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Kirkhope.]

10.15 pm
Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker, relating to Standing Order No. 130 on Select Committees. I raise the matter because it has become clear to hon. Members on both sides—[Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. Will hon. Members who are leaving the Chamber do so quietly and not hold their meetings here? [Interruption.] Order. An hon. Member is on his feet.

Mr. McCartney

Thank you, Madam Speaker, for standing up for the little people in the House.

Madam Speaker

Order. They may be small people, but there is a lot of personality there.

Mr. McCartney

I am lost for words, Madam Speaker—for once.

Standing Order No. 130 relates to the setting up of Select Committees. It has become clear to hon. Members on both sides who served on Select Committees in the previous Parliament, in particular Committees whose current investigations were suspended because of the general election, that no effort has been made by the authorities of the House, through the usual channels, to bring forward appropriate measures for those Select Committees to be set up. In particular, the Social Services Select Committee has been left in limbo while people laugh all the way to Liechtenstein with people's resources from the Maxwell pension funds. I ask you, Madam Speaker, to use your good offices in the appropriate quarters to bring before the House orders for that Select Committee to be set up before the summer recess.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must seek that information from the Committee of Selection and not from the Chair.

Mr. Frank Field (Birkenhead)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I hope that Front-Bench Members heard Opposition support for the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney).

Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I wonder whether you would do your best to draw to the attention of Front-Bench Members the answer which I received today to my question on the cost to public funds of members of the Department of the Clerk of the House who currently have nothing to do because the departmental Select Committees have not been set-up. The cost of the Clerks is £175,862 a month. If the departmental Select Committees are not set up until October, the cost to public funds in the Clerk's Department will, by my calculation, be more than £1 million.

Madam Speaker

I protect Back Benchers as much as I protect Officers of the House who cannot answer for themselves. I am using my good offices to see that progress is made in setting up the Select Committees. I am sure that what I have said has been heard in all quarters of the House and especially on the two Front Benches.

Mr. William Ross (Londonderry, East)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not prolonging the point of order unnecessarily. Is it a different point of order?

Mr. Ross

As you are using your good offices to ensure that the Select Committees are set up, will you go further and ensure that there is a Select Committee for Northern Ireland?

Madam Speaker

I have gone as far as I intend to go this evening. We now move on to the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill.