HC Deb 21 June 1993 vol 227 cc21-3 3.32 pm
Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recall that some time ago the House was given solemn assurances by the Department of Trade and Industry about which pits would remain open. This weekend I discovered that Frickley, which is in my constituency, if being referred to as though it is to be thrown on the scrap heap. In view of the disgraceful way in which this matter is now being handled, may I ask whether you have had a request from the DTI for one of its Ministers to come to the House to explain why we have been misled?

Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I accept that it is not your job to do ministerial work, but could you advise us on how we can get answers from Ministers? They all have the power and the glory, but apparently no responsibility. How can we get answers to very important questions? Rossington colliery, in my constituency, is now in mothballs and British Coal intends to dismantle the face, making it unsaleable to the private sector. As Ministers are refusing to answer our questions, how would you advise me to go about getting some?

Madam Speaker

On the first point of order, I have not been informed that a DTI Minister wishes to come to the House to make a statement today. On the second, I think that the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) is as ingenious as I am in these matters. He will know that DTI Ministers will he replying to questions later this week, so he must try his luck then.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I hope that this is a matter for you—

Madam Speaker

So do I.

Mr. Winnick

I have tabled a series of questions to the Attorney-General about people who have made representations to him about the Nadir case. Originally, the reply to my question was that nine—no, seven—Conservative Members made such representations. I then tabled further questions asking for further information, hut not asking for the identity of those concerned. The Attorney-General replied: I do not intend to expand on my answer".—[Official Report, 17 June 1993; Vol. 226, c. 668.] You are not responsible for ministerial answers, Madam Speaker, but the Attorney-General's reply means that neither I nor any other hon. Member can table questions seeking further information about the representations made by Conservative Members to the Attorney-General about the Nadir case. Our job as an Opposition is being eroded and undermined because the Table Office will say that, arising from the answer given to me, the blocking mechanism is in place and that neither I nor any other right hon. or hon. Member can table a further question.

The Attorney-General has not only refused to give me any information but has made it virtually impossible to go to the Table Office to put further questions on Asil Nadir. They are hiding something, and it is disgraceful that the Attorney-General should be a party to this.

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman prefaced his point of order with the remark that answers to questions are not for me. Ministers are responsible for the comments they make. If the hon. Gentleman is claiming that the Table Office has refused to accept a question, he should not raise that on the Floor of the House—as he knows as a member of the Committee on Procedure. The hon. Gentleman knows the procedures of the House. If there is a refusal, he should come and see me. I should be glad to give him some minutes of my time, to try to be as helpful as I can.

Mr. Winnick


Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. Winnick) clearly stated that the Table Office is refusing his questions. If that is the case, he must come to see me.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Today's Order Paper states: Questions to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs relating to Overseas Development will begin not later than 3.20 pm. Today, they started at 3.22 pm, and the clock had moved to 3.23 pm as the first question was asked. You, Madam Speaker, stopped questions at 3.31 pm. In other words, we lost at least two minutes of Overseas Development Questions. I have a vested interest, in that my question was not answered. I look to you, Madam Speaker, for some redress—either a good selection next time, or at least an opportunity to ask my question on the plight of refugees from western Sahara.

Madam Speaker

I tried to redress the balance of questions, as the hon. Gentleman will realise, although he was not in the Chamber earlier, when hon. Members representing one region of the country asked questions and who are often inclined, if I may say so, to be rather long winded. Therefore, they ran over their time by about 50 seconds, and I had to juggle the other questions to be helpful to the whole House. However, I note the hon. Gentleman's comments.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I shall be very brief, and I am not on the Procedure Committee.

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam)

But the hon. Gentleman is long winded.

Mr. Skinner

And I am not Welsh.

Personal statements are to some extent a matter for yourself, Madam Speaker. You will agree that they are not always made in the event of a resignation or sacking, or both. Right hon. and hon. Members can make statements on different subjects, with your agreement, Madam Speaker. As we are having trouble getting those nine Tory Members of Parliament to make a statement about their connection with Asil Nadir, will you, Madam Speaker, give each and every one of them, as and when they are available, an opportunity to make a personal statement to the House about their connection?

Madam Speaker

If any applications are made to me, I always consider them very seriously.

  1. STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS, &c. 18 words
    1. c23
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