HC Deb 09 January 1996 vol 269 c26 3.56 pm
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As you will know, there has been exceptionally severe weather over the past few weeks in Scotland. In the Grampian region, for example, many schools opened only today, and some are still closed. Local authorities have incurred phenomenal extra costs that are way beyond anything for which they could reasonably have been expected to budget—at a time when they have been told that budgets will be cut even further. Surely the Government must make a statement on how those extra costs are to be met.

Have you had any requests from the Government to make such a statement? If they had any care for the people still unfortunately under their rule, it seems logical that they would make a statement about what is to happen.

Madam Speaker

I have not been informed today that the Government are seeking to make a statement on the issue that the hon. Gentleman raised.

Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Have you had any notice of ministerial intention to make a statement on what has become notorious as the Vickers memorandum? In that memorandum—written by a captain of industry and knight of the realm, Sir Colin Chandler, following discussions with Dick Evans, the chief executive of British Aerospace—a conspiracy is unveiled, involving the possible kidnap or murder of a political refugee, Professor Muhammad al-Masari, who was living peacefully in London. Is there any indication that the Government will explain the extraordinary events and their relationship to the decision to deport Mr. al-Masari?

Madam Speaker

I repeat what I said earlier. I am always informed before midday if the Government are seeking to make a statement. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman and to any others who wish to change the business of the House that they should approach the Leader of the House on Thursday during business questions to see whether there is any opportunity for a statement or debate.

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes), Madam Speaker. As you are the protector of the rights of Back Benchers, I am sure that you are as concerned as I am that approximately 30,000 houses in Glasgow have suffered flood damage as a result of burst pipes, due to the exceptionally severe weather. More than 1,000 families are now homeless. However, the Scottish Minister responsible for industry and local government either complains that it is his day off or blames everything on school janitors. Can you advise me what one has to do to obtain a statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland on the problem, which is so important to the whole of Scotland?

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman might reflect—he has been here for a number of years—that there are now greater opportunities for hon. Members to raise such issues in Adjournment debates. Perhaps I might direct his attention to the fact that, when matters are raised in Adjournment debates, the Minister has to make some response.