HC Deb 12 June 1995 vol 261 cc499-500 3.31 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, which is of some delicacy, Madam Speaker. On Tuesday 27 June, BBC Scotland and a programme called "Scottish Lobby" propose to have parliamentary awards. I do not know whether it is proper for the BBC to award Members of Parliament parliamentary awards according to criteria decided by the BBC. It is a matter of some concern when the Office of Speaker becomes involved. It is understood that you, Madam Speaker, are going to present the awards. I earnestly ask for reflection as to whether, with all the authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons, your Office should be involved—perhaps without any sort of judgment by the Speaker—in awarding awards to parliamentarians on a pretty invidious basis. Whatever the basis, you have to be above such battles.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has written to me on more than one occasion about the matter. As with a number of issues that he pursues, the hon. Gentleman has pursued this one with me now for more than four weeks. I have taken sound advice from many of his colleagues, particularly from the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), who leads for the Opposition on Scottish matters, as well as from many other colleagues. I am not adjudicating, but I consider it to be a privilege and honour simply to make the presentation to one or two of my colleagues on whichever side of the House they may sit.

Mrs. Helen Liddell (Monklands, East)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I rise in view of the developments over the weekend on trading in PowerGen shares. I am aware that the Financial Secretary made a statement to the House on Friday afternoon. In view of the growing seriousness of the issues raised, particularly in relation to the Treasury's role, has the Chancellor of the Exchequer approached you, Madam Speaker, to say that he is prepared to appear before the House to make a statement on those serious matters?

Madam Speaker

As the hon. Lady indicated, the Minister did not make a statement on Friday; I allowed a private notice question. I have not heard since that any Minister is seeking to make a statement.

Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Could we have a further investigation of Welsh questions? I appreciate that we have asked you to investigate that in the past, but after today, I think that it is necessary that the matter should be looked at again. I am complaining not for myself because I was fortunate enough to be called to ask a supplementary question, but because hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies and who tabled questions failed to be called today.

Today, eight Labour Members were called, with four Conservative Members who do not represent Welsh constituencies and one Liberal Democrat who does not represent a Welsh constituency. Five hon. Members who do not represent Welsh constituencies were called compared with eight who do. That is out of 38 Welsh Members. We have the opportunity to ask questions only once a month and surely that right should be given to Welsh constituencies and Welsh Members.

I notice that that does not happen in Scottish questions, for some unknown reason. Therefore, I suggest that we look yet again at the matter. Perhaps the Government Whip who deals with Welsh matters could persuade his colleagues not to use up the time that Welsh Members should have to ask Welsh questions.

Madam Speaker

As the hon. Member appreciates, I deal with Welsh questions in the same way that I deal with Scottish questions. This is, of course, a United Kingdom Parliament and when hon. Members from any part of the House table questions, they will be called to put them and called for supplementaries if they should rise.

I have noticed today that we have not moved as quickly as we normally do with Welsh questions. To some extent, that is because we tend to get long questions and we get long answers, too. If they were much more brisk, we would make further progress and the hon. Gentleman would be much happier than he is at the present time, although I see him with his usual smile on his face.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have no inside information about who will get the Scottish parliamentary awards but I have some suggestions. Would it not be preferable if you were to nominate one or two Scottish Members to give awards for the journalists in the Gallery? It would not be proper for those who do not manage to stay for Adjournment debates on Scottish sewage and other such matters to be considered in that respect. It would be much more fun for us to adjudicate for once on the qualities, persistence and abilities of those who spend so much of their time telling us what we ought to be doing.

Madam Speaker

I could agree to the hon. Member's suggestion only if those nominated worked 12 or 14-hour days in that Gallery and stayed to the very end.