HC Deb 27 March 1995 vol 257 cc695-6 3.31 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Have you received any request from a Foreign Office Minister to make a statement on the increasingly ugly situation that is developing in Washington in relation to wild talk of military action against Iraq? Is it not highly desirable that the Commons should at least hear about that and have an opportunity to discuss it before any military strike?

Madam Speaker

I have not been informed that the Government are seeking to make a statement on that matter, but there will be questions to the Foreign Office later this week, and the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members might be able to raise that matter then.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I wonder what redress is available to hon. Members who find themselves coming under undue pressure from outside organisations on subjects that are of interest to the House. I have in mind the reports about the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union in respect of the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), and consideration of the future of clause IV.

Madam Speaker

That is not a point of order for me. Our standing orders and our procedures have not been breached, but if the hon. Gentleman will let me have a copy of the report that he is referring to, I will take a look at it. I have not seen it, and I need to be fully informed before I can comment.

Mr. Bruce Grocott (The Wrekin)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker, on a matter that affects the responsibilities and duties of the House. At the weekend and on Friday, there were extensive leaks to the media of what the Government are hoping to include in a Queen's Speech that cannot be delivered until November at the earliest—assuming that a general election does not intervene.

Clearly nothing is more important to the responsibilities of the House than knowing the Government's plans for the following parliamentary year. I have no strong views on whether it is good to leak those plans six months in advance, but surely anything as important to the House should at least be announced to the House by the Leader of the House, and should not be dealt with in leaks to the media.

Madam Speaker

I make no comments on leaked documents or leaked information. I have enough to do in dealing with authoritative information, let alone leaked material.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Blackpool, South)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I seek your guidance. I know that you uphold the principle that any hon. Member who receives payment on a matter that might affect his judgment should make a declaration to that effect. Should not the same rule apply to political journalists who deal with this place?

Would it be appropriate to refer to the Nolan committee, through you or by some other means in this House, the fact that it is now being reported that a political journalist, John Humphrys of the BBC, failed to disclose during his interviews on the "Today" programme that he would receive payment for his involvement in the overtly anti-Government education rally last week?

Madam Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman believes that it is a matter that he can refer to the Nolan committee, knowing the terms of reference of that committee, as an individual Member he is perfectly free to do so.

Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Today's Order Paper shows that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Cann) intends to raise on the Adjournment, under Standing Order No. 9, the proposed sale of the RAF Bentwaters base in Suffolk. You have ruled in the past that, when hon. Members refer in questions or Adjournment debates to a matter that concerns another hon. Member's constituency, they should at least consult the hon. Member concerned.

I understand that the hon. Member for Ipswich has not advised my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) that he intends to raise that matter on the Adjournment. Should not that strict convention, to which you normally like us to adhere, be observed for the sake of future good practice?

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is quite correct. When an hon. Member wishes to raise, especially in an Adjournment debate, the question of some development or project that concerns another Member's constituency, not only is it a matter of courtesy to let the other hon. Member know but it is a matter of good custom and practice. I deprecate the fact that the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) has not been informed that that Adjournment debate is to take place this evening.