§ Mr. Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, East)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Can it be in order for the Ministry of Defence to make a major procurement announcement by letter and press release without informing the House of Commons first? The Minister of State for Defence Procurement has announced his decision on the landing platform helicopter carrier. He has announced that the order has gone to Kvaerner and Barrow in Furness, which has condemned Swan Hunter on Tyneside to closure with the loss of some 6,000 jobs. That is of enormous importance to the people of Tyneside and, I respectfully put it to you, Madam Speaker, it should be raised on the Floor of the House.
§ Mr. Stephen Byers (Wallsend)
Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Shipbuilding has been carried out on the Tyne for centuries, yet we have had an announcement this afternoon that could deny shipbuilding on Tyneside a future. Is it right that a statement of such overwhelming importance to my constituents and thousands of workers on Tyneside can be slipped out without the House having the opportunity to question the Minister responsible? Is that an appropriate way for the Government to conduct their business?
§ Madam Speaker
I understand that the text of an answer to a question on this issue is already available to hon. Members. However, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wish to make a submission to me in the usual way in time for tomorrow.