§ Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I should like to bring to your attention some correspondence that I have received relating to my private Member's Bill which is due to receive a Second Reading on 3 March. The British Field Sports Society has written to say that there is insufficient time for the Bill to pass through all its parliamentary stages. The correspondence also contains a letter from the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Dr. Goodson-Wickes) which tells colleagues that it is not the intention to divide the House as there will be insufficient time.
It is my contention that such correspondence will militate against a full debate and votes on a closure motion and Second Reading. It may also lead to a false impression being given to hon. Members. I seek your advice, first, on the propriety of an outside body such as the British Field Sports Society daring to interfere with the rights of Members of Parliament by stating that there is insufficient time. Secondly, is it in order for the hon. Member for Wimbledon, to whom I gave notice of this point of order by putting a message on the board at 2 pm, to speak for other hon. Members in a way in which he is not entitled to do?
§ Madam Speaker
There seems to be nothing wrong with the course of action that has been taken. Hon. Members often receive letters giving advice or guidance on what they might like to do. As the hon. Gentleman knows, letters and correspondence do not bind anyone to anything.
§ Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. During my contribution to last night's debate on passenger service requirements under rail privatisation, I was remiss in not declaring an interest—that I am sponsored by ASLEF, the Associated 346 Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen. May I take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to the House for that omission?
§ Mr. Peter Atkinson (Hexham)
Further to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall), my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Dr. Goodson-Wickes) asked me to thank the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in notifying him of the point of order and to apologise for the fact that he was unfortunately unable to be here.
§ Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I do not know whether you have seen reports today that the Secretary of State for Health was summoned to see the Lord Chancellor about the legal action that was going to be taken against her because of her Department's lack of beds for severely disturbed mentally ill patients. Has the Secretary of State announced that she intends to make a statement on this alarming state of affairs?
§ Madam Speaker
I have had no notification that the Secretary of State for Health is seeking to make a statement to the House, at least not today.
While I am on my feet, may I say that some right hon. and hon. Members seem to think that it is rather smart or clever to manipulate the English language when referring to other right hon. and hon. Members across the Floor of the House. I remind the House of the wise words of "Erskine May":Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language.I hope that hon. Members will bear that in mind in future interventions and that they will make use of the richness of the English language and select elegant phrases that express their meaning without causing offence to others. I know only too well from my postbag that some exchanges across the Floor of the House do not enhance it in the eyes of our electorate.