HC Deb 02 March 1993 vol 220 cc151-2 4.12 pm
Mr. David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I seek your guidance about asking the Secretary of State for Health to tell the House this afternoon whether it is true that she is about to announce a dramatic increase in prescription charges, which will constitute a rise of 2,000 per cent. since the Government said in 1979 that prescription charges would remain at 20p. She is prepared to tax the sick, not the rich—

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is now making a speech. I understood his Secretary of State for Health, but I have not been informed that she wishes to make a statement to the House. We shall now proceed with today's business.

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

On a point of order relating to the Education Bill, Madam Speaker. I wish to complain about the intolerably short time that we have had to examine new clause 22. Hon. Members such as myself who live in the north and who go home to their constituencies at the weekend have not been allowed time to table an effective amendment.

Madam Speaker

That is very much a matter for the Government. It is not a point of order for me. I dealt with the amendments in good time and under the normal procedure.

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I in no way seek to call into question what happened on the statement, Madam Speaker, but may I draw your attention to the fact that members of the two Front Benches took well over half of the 40 minutes we had for questions, leaving insufficient time for Back Benchers such as myself, whose constituencies suffer from these problems, to raise specific constituency issues? I realise the difficulty that you faced today, but could you perhaps bring pressure to bear indirectly on members of the Front Benches to make them more aware of Back Benchers' problems in future and perhaps arrange for an urgent debate through the Leader of the House?

Madam Speaker

I am delighted to have the hon. Gentleman's support. I face such problems every day. I can assure him that every time there is a statement in the House I make a note of how long the members of the two Front Benches take and that I deal with the situation in the best way that I can. Today I have to strike a balance because of the guillotine on the Education Bill. I know that the hon. Gentleman and the House understand that.