HC Deb 17 February 1993 vol 219 cc321-2 3.32 pm
Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You may not be aware, since you were forced to change your seating arrangements in the House, that there are many places in the Chamber where the system for letting Members listen to the little loudspeaker on the back of Benches no longer works. That is primarily probably due to the fact that the enunciation of most Members is appallingly poor. They do not know—[Interruption.] You can hear me, laddie.

There are two other possibilities. One is that the technical competence of the people who service the little things on the back of the Benches—

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

I am not a little thing. [Laughter.]

Mr. Andrew Faulds

This is serious for those of us who are elderly and short of hearing.

It may be that their competence is somewhat lacking. The most likely explanation is that, since the malign introduction of radio and television into the Chamber, these little speakers on the back of the Benches are turned down so that they do not interfere with the output of the radio and television transmission. Could you please examine the problem? Otherwise, I might as well sit at home holding my wife's hand and having a cup of coffee. I would hear the proceedings of the House much more easily if I relaxed in that fashion.

Madam Speaker

It could also be that the noise in the Chamber often makes it difficult for Members in various parts of the House, as well as the Speaker, to hear what is going on. I have noted what the hon. Gentleman said and it will certainly be attended to.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In view of the flagrantly inaccurate, dishonest and inadequate response to my supplementary question—

Madam Speaker

Order. [Interruption.] Order. I can deal with this matter. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman used a word which he will withdraw. I do not wish it to be used in the House. No one is dishonest here.

Mr. Winterton

If you feel, Madam Speaker, that it is unparliamentary, I can only say that my right hon. Friend knows that what he said was inaccurate. If that is not dishonest, I do not know what is.

Hon. Members


Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is a long-standing parliamentarian and a member of my Chairmen's Panel. I am sure that he will rephrase what he has to say.

Mr. Winterton

Madam Speaker—[HON. MEMBERS: "Say 'economical with the truth'."] I am being helped by hon. Members on both sides of the House. I believe that my right hon. Friend, on mature consideration, will realise that in responding to my question he was being very economical with the truth. As a result, if I say that a response was dishonest, I am honourable enough—and, indeed, I have been here long enough—to accept the advice which you give from the Chair. I will withdraw the word "dishonest" in respect of his comments, which were clearly totally and flagrantly inaccurate.

Madam Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East)

Would you, Madam Speaker, give guidance to hon. Members as to the propriety of any hon. Member releasing to the press the contents of a speech intended to be made during debates in the Chamber and allowing it to be published as if it had been made, although it was never made? Would it be reasonable for the hon. Member or hon. Members involved to provide follow-up press releases stating that the speech was not made?

Madam Speaker

If what the hon. Gentleman says is correct—I have no reason to believe otherwise-1 hope that the practice will cease forthwith. I caution the House that any speech which is not published in Hansard, although it may be published elsewhere, is not a parliamentary proceeding and is therefore not privileged. All hon. Members should be made aware of that.

Mr. Tony Banks

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As you know, I am not one of life's whingers, even though I have to sit next to my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) and translate for him during the proceedings, but you may recall that this is the second day running that my question has failed by one to be reached. I wonder whether you would consider abolishing Prayers. They are clearly not a popular institution, and they deprive me of the opportunity to raise important issues.

Madam Speaker

I have never thought that the hon. Gentleman has been very much deprived in his public life.

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