HC Deb 17 March 1993 vol 221 cc285-6 3.30 pm
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. If, for example, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) had tabled a closed question about Derbyshire and another hon. Member had then tried to ask a question about Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire, I assume that you would have ruled that hon. Member's question out of order. In fact, the hon. Lady intervened on a question about shipbuilding to ask a question that was entirely about the aircraft industry. Will you reflect on whether such questions should be ruled out of order in future?

Madam Speaker

As far as I recall, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) led on defence expenditure, but let me make my attitude to questions absolutely clear. I very much deprecate hon. Members' going very wide of the questions on the Order Paper: I regard that as an abuse of the House. If it is any comfort to hon. Members, I make a mental note of the names of those who abuse the House in that way. May I leave it at that?

Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Can you tell me whether questions 5 and 12—one tabled by a Scottish nationalist, and the other by a Welsh nationalist—were withdrawn today because the hon. Members concerned did not wish to embarrass the President of the Board of Trade, and were involved in the grubby deal that the nationalists cooked up with the Government last week?

Madam Speaker

I have no idea why the questions were withdrawn. A message simply came to my office in the normal way.

Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Has the President of the Board of Trade made a statement to you to correct his inaccuracies with regard to the report by the Select Committee on Trade and Industry? He said that the report made no recommendations about gas and nuclear energy, but it clearly does. Paragraph 247 states: In determining whether new capacity should be licensed, we recommend that the Secretary of State give priority to:— Projects with a substantial CHP"— that is, combined heat and power— element and thus major environmental benefits…sour gas, which is unsuitable for other purposes and thus unlikely otherwise to be developed. The report also suggests that the right hon. Gentleman use—

Madam Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is now becoming involved in content. I have tried to explain to him previously that I cannot deal with content, or with what Ministers or Back Benchers say in the House. I am concerned with procedure and points of order.

Mr. Clapham


Madam Speaker

May I answer the hon. Gentleman? After all, he asked the question in the first place.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has made no statement to me, privately or in any other way. I understand that the hon. Gentleman is attempting to pursue the matter. I advise him to pursue it by other means; he cannot pursue it through the Speaker.