HC Deb 23 November 1993 vol 233 cc327-8 3.30 pm
Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Yesterday, the Secretary of State for the Environment launched a consultation document about the future of London, entitled "Making the Best Better". As a London Member whose constituents have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the Government's inability to create a present for this capital city, with rates of unemployment higher than the national and European average, 9,000 small businesses failing last year and crime and homelessness rates increasing, I awaited my copy of the document with no small interest. I have not received such a copy.

Is it not disgraceful that, yet again, the Executive announce their decision to the press but fail to inform the House?

Mr. Graham Riddick (Cole Valley)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

Does it relate to this point of order?

Mr. Riddick


Madam Speaker

In that case, let me answer the hon. Lady's point of order. So far as I am aware, no new policy has been announced to the public. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Order. The hon. Lady has asked me for a response to this. No new policy has been announced. It is, I believe, as she says herself, a consultation document. Perhaps the hon. Lady would ask the Secretary of State—it will no doubt be relayed to him—for copies of his document, or perhaps he could make it available in the Library so that we might all see what he has to say.

Mr. Riddick

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I imagine that you will be aware that, last night, the Liberal Democrats used a device in the House to stop my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales from making his speech at the end of the debate on local government in Wales and Scotland. That follows hard on the heels of similar—indeed, worse—tactics of disruption that were perpetrated by the official Labour Opposition three weeks ago, at the tail end of the last Session of Parliament.

Is there anything that you can do to put a stop to those tactics of disruption? Are you able to tell us the outcome of the inquiry that you carried out into those tactics of three weeks ago?

Madam Speaker

I was certainly aware of what happened last night. Indeed, I have gone through Hansard, ad I found that yesterday, a number of Members who wished to speak were disappointed because speeches took so long. Therefore, I was not able to call a number of Members who had a right to speak. The tactic, as the hon. Gentleman calls it, of last night, of saying, "I spy strangers," is perfectly legitimate. The hon. Gentleman may not like it—some other Members may not like it—but it is a perfectly legitimate procedure. I must say that I was disappointed myself, because I know that the House had been waiting for the Secretary of State's statement, and he had, in one minute, to rush it through very rapidly—a statement for which the House had been waiting for quite some time.

Mr. David Shaw (Dover)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. It has been suggested that the House survives on a degree of hot air. Can you use your good offices to discover why there is no hot air wafting its way to the Norman Shaw buildings, where our staff are suffering considerable cold? In September, the heating system is not turned on and it is extremely cold; in October, the heating is turned on and it is too hot; now, in November, our staff are suffering from inadequate heating in the building.

Madam Speaker

I take my job very seriously, but the hon. Gentleman need not have wasted time on the Floor of the House with such a matter; he could have gone directly to the relevant committee. However, I take my job as porter, caretaker, or whatever it may be, seriously, and I shall make the inquiries for which the hon. Gentleman asks.

Mr. Charles Hendry (High Peak)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In connection with your inquiry into disturbances in the House, will you tell us whether you are considering the appointment of lady Serjeants at Arms, who would be able to root out the Opposition lady Members who hide in the gentlemen's lavatories in order to disrupt the proceedings of the Chamber?

Madam Speaker

So far as I am aware, there are no vacancies in the Serjeant at Arms' Department at the moment.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Can you tell us when we are likely to learn the outcome of your inquiry into the tactics used by the Opposition in the House three weeks ago?

Madam Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman reads carefully the Hansard report of that day, he will see that I said that I was making my own inquiries. I have done that, and I have received the necessary assurances for which I asked at the time. I shall take matters into my own hands in future.