HC Deb 12 December 1994 vol 251 c631 4.30 pm
Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Last Thursday I reminded the House that the implementation order relating to local government reorganisation in the county of Cleveland was still before the courts. At that time, the Lord President of the Council effectively withdrew the assurance that he had given in June this year that progress on the order would await resolution in the courts. I submit that that in itself was a hindrance to proper procedure.

On 10 March, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Environment assured the House that his Department would place in the Library a summary of all representations received by the Secretary of State about the Commission's final recommendations"—[Official Report, 15 March 1994; Vol. 239, c. 577.] when the Government laid the implementation order for Cleveland. He repeated that promise on 31 March. The order was laid last Thursday—nine months after that promise was made to the House, and 13 months after the Banham commission made its infamous recommendation. Despite repeated telephone calls from Library staff to the Department throughout Thursday, Friday and today, the summary of submissions has not yet been deposited in the Library.

Not only has the Secretary of State for the Environment treated the people of Cleveland with cynical non-concern by denying them a proper means of registering their preference; he has breached faith with the House by failing to keep his word, thus depriving hon. Members of information that could be crucial to the making of proper representations. May I ask you, Madam Speaker, to make the appropriate investigations of this disgraceful breach of faith?

Madam Speaker

From what the hon. Gentleman has said, the Department appears to have been very lethargic. Ministers will have heard that exchange, and I hope that they will report it to the appropriate Department without delay.

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. A couple of hours ago, I heard that the North West gas board had introduced a £21 call-out charge for gas leaks. I am extremely concerned that that may lead to dangerous circumstances in the north-west. Will you advise me, Madam Speaker, on how I might raise the issue in the House as a matter of urgency?

Madam Speaker

Advice on procedure is not given across the Floor of the House, but I am sure that the hon. Lady—who is wily in the ways of getting things done in the House—will find methods of doing so before the House rises: indeed, in the next day or two.