HC Deb 31 January 1995 vol 253 cc853-4 3.31 pm
Mr. Paul Marland (Gloucestershire, West)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I seek your guidance on what appears to have become a conspiracy to cover up an hon. Member's voting record. The question is whether or not the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang), Labour's Front-Bench spokesman on agriculture, voted for the export of live animals in 1975.

Hansard shows that, after the debate on 17 January 1975 following the O'Brien report, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East, on a free vote, voted for the restoration of the export of live animals. Furthermore, on 17 April 1975 in an Adjournment debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is the point of order?"] The point of order is that it was not just in one free vote that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East demonstrated his support for the export of live animals, but in his subsequent actions. In those circumstances, what can be done by the House to establish the truth and to expose what appears to be a conspiracy?

Madam Speaker

First, I take it that the hon. Gentleman informed the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang) that he intended to raise that matter today.

Mr. Marland

indicated assent.

Madam Speaker

That is as it should be.

Dr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. This is an abuse of the time of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If Conservative Members have any doubt about that, they should read the remarks of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who accepted the position. We reached agreement on what actually happened.

I will briefly state the facts. In 1973, I voted to stop the export of live animals, on a Labour motion. The Conservative Government, who opposed that motion, set up the O'Brien committee. By the time that a Labour Government were elected in 1975, of which I was a member, the O'Brien committee had recommended increased safeguards and resumption of the trade. I might add that the trade then was in cattle and pigs, and was small compared with now. I, as a member of the Labour Government, voted with those on the Conservative Front Bench and with the Labour Government for a resumption of the trade.

It is nonsense to make such a meal of this. I have never sought to misrepresent the position. It is the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Marland) who, at Prime Minister's questions a fortnight ago, misrepresented it.

Several hon. Members


Madam Speaker

Order. I will hear no further points of order on that matter. Points of order on it are becoming far too frequent. It has now been cleared up once and for all.

Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Last week, I tabled a series of questions for written answer regarding incidents of fire, crimes of violence, unannounced station closures and train cancellations on London Underground. Such questions had been answered in some detail in the Official Report in June 1994.

The reply that I received from the Minister for Transport in London on 27 January of this year was that these are operational matters for London Underground. Surely that constitutes an abdication not only of Government responsibility but of accountability to this House and to Londoners. I should be grateful for your advice on how to proceed in this matter.

Madam Speaker

As far as I am aware, there has been no change of policy. Ministers are responsible for the answers that they give. As far as I know, and as the hon. Lady has told the House, these are day-to-day matters of an operational nature. I am sure that she would want to find other ways of pursuing them, possibly with London Underground direct—or she may even try to get an Adjournment debate.