HC Deb 08 February 1996 vol 271 c484 4.14 pm
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Last year you were helpful and made a ruling that, when a parliamentary question affected an individual constituency, hon. Members should be given notice of it. As far as I know, Ministers have complied with that ruling. Today, during business questions, the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) asked a similar question, on which I do not think you have ever been asked to reflect. She asked whether, when a written question is answered which directly affects a large number of hon. Members, the same sort of protection could be given so that we are aware of the answers before the rest of the world and do not face the difficulty that you dealt with last year.

That issue relates to the subject of reports, which was raised with the Leader of the House. I heard your ruling yesterday, Madam Speaker, and I know that reports to Ministers are clearly different, although, as Ministers are accountable to Parliament, those reports are made, indirectly, to Parliament. The Leader of the House gave an assurance that the report would be available to us at the same time as to the press. Perhaps you, Madam Speaker, could reflect on whether reports to Ministers could be encompassed in the same ruling as that on parliamentary answers that are of general interest.

Madam Speaker

On the hon. Gentleman's latter comments, I made my views clearly known yesterday and I have nothing further to add. I shall look at what he said in his earlier remarks, as I want to be helpful.

Mr. Newton

I confirm that I shall look at what the hon. Gentleman said.