§ 4.3 pm
§ Mr. Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. On the Order Paper yesterday there was a question from myself to the Secretary of State for Employment. I asked a straight and factual question about whether a firm called Coltman Precast had notified his Department of impending redundancies, and what the date of that notification was. The answer I received from the Minister was that the information required under those provisions was given in confidence.
Is it in order for a Minister to refuse to answer a direct question from an hon. Member when the law says nothing about confidentiality? Is that an example of Ministers attempting to aid and abet employers who seek to evade their statutory responsibilities?
§ Madam Speaker
First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I am sure that he appreciates that Ministers are solely responsible for their answers to parliamentary questions. It is entirely a matter for the Minister in question, and is not a matter for the Chair. However, I want to be helpful to the hon. Gentleman who might seek parliamentary opportunities to pursue the matter. Although I do not give guidance across the Floor of the House, he may like to come and see me. If he wishes to reflect on the matter, he may well know how to raise it in some other appropriate way.
§ Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I understand that you cannot discuss security matters, but I seek guidance about whether it is in 1050 order for hon. Members, and in particular the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), to invite and bring in to this building members of Sinn Fein? Given that the Government are still awaiting the renunciation of violence from the IRA, surely people who will not renounce violence should not be invited into this building.
§ Madam Speaker
I am, of course, not prepared to discuss security matters, but what took place was perfectly in order providing that the room was booked in accordance with the relevant regulations, as I understand was the case in this instance. I dealt with the matter earlier this week. Had the meeting not been in order, I would of course not have allowed the use of the room.