HC Deb 15 February 1996 vol 271 cc1171-2 5.34 pm
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recall the answer that I received from a Minister of the Crown on the granting of a pass by a Minister to a commercial lobbyist. You will also know that last week you twice ruled that you are not in a position to intervene. Who will sort out the problem? A Minister of the Crown provides a pass to a commercial lobbyist, whom he registers as a researcher but who does no research for that Minister. There is an issue—

Madam Speaker

Order. Perhaps I can inform the hon. Gentleman. I think that he is looking at a register that is not current. The Minister of the Crown concerned ceased to employ the gentleman in question in the middle of 1995, and he has not had a pass since that time. I have correspondence on the subject. If the hon. Gentleman would like to come to my office, I shall show it to him, so that he can see all the dates.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I, too, have seen the documentation, Madam Speaker. The pass application was signed on 1 May, yet the person concerned was appointed as a Minister three months earlier. It cannot be possible for a Minister of the Crown to sign a pass for a commercial lobbyist who does not work for him. Something is wrong in the system. I am simply suggesting that something should be done.

Madam Speaker

It is perfectly correct for a Minister of the Crown to employ whom he wishes. That was done perfectly properly. Since last year, the Minister has not employed that person, and he does not have a pass to enter the House. I have records giving me that evidence, and if the hon. Gentleman wants to come to my office, I shall make them available to him.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As you uphold, some may say embody, the dignity of the House, do you share my concern about an article that appeared in The Guardian yesterday about the "Mark Thomas Comedy Product", a new Channel 4 programme in which Members of Parliament will be interviewed dressed in the costumes of various animals, especially teddy bears? I am sure that we are grateful to the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes), who declined to be interviewed dressed as a male organ—although some of us might think that most appropriate. Do you not feel, Madam Speaker, that that detracts somewhat from the dignity of this place? Clearly some Members of Parliament will do anything for publicity, and I feel that their attention should be drawn to the matter.

Madam Speaker

I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman that many Members of the House will do a great deal to get publicity. I make no mention of names—just follow my eyes. We must now move on to more serious matters.