HC Deb 19 January 1993 vol 217 c261 3.30 pm
Madam Speaker

I have to give a ruling to the House in response to a point of order from the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) last Wednesday. I undertook to examine the circumstances in which a question was tabled in the name of the hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Kynoch) to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

I have established that a parliamentary clerk in the Scottish Office did in fact, as the hon. Member for Dumbarton suggested, send a question to the Table Office, and that the question was written on a question form pre-signed by the hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside. Since the form was signed by an hon. Member, the Table Office behaved perfectly properly in accepting it. I hope, however, that any practice that may have grown up of pre-signing forms will now cease.

I must make it absolutely clear that the tabling of a question is a formal parliamentary proceeding which must be undertaken only with the specific approval of an hon. Member, if not by himself or herself personally. What happened was an abuse—[Interruption.] Order. I have not finished. I have received apologies from the Secretary of State and from the hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside, together with the undertakings that such an occurrence will not be repeated.

In raising this point of order with me, the hon. Member for Dumbarton said that he was referring the matter to the Procedure Committee. It will be for that Committee to decide whether it wishes to consider any wider implications that this incident may have for the rules of tabling questions. For my part, I accept the apologies and the undertakings that have been given, but I make it absolutely clear to the entire House that there must be no recurrence whatsoever of this practice.