§ Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. On 11 June I was wrongly named by the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) in an early-day motion. I had to wait two or three days until it was eventually amended. In the meantime, the hon. Gentleman had persuaded 30 Conservative Members, including seven knights of the realm, to sign his EDM.
I am deeply concerned to find 45 such motions on the Order Paper attacking individual Members—representing 5 per cent. of all EDMs this Session.
Would you, Madam Speaker, use your good offices to persuade hon. Members to stop these personal attacks? And if they make mischief, as the hon. Member for Gravesham does, would you ask them to name the correct Member and have the courtesy to write a letter of apology? I have yet to receive one from the hon. Gentleman for his misdeed.
§ Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham)
Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. This refers to early-day motion 981, which includes a quotation from the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) in which he condemns the leader of his party, in the context of education policy, as saying, "Do as I say, not as I do."
I am at fault in that I thought the hon. Gentleman concerned represented Falkirk, East. Within two days it was pointed out to me that I actually meant the hon. Member for Falkirk, West; so I went to the Table Office and asked for the constituency to be corrected in the EDM. I also orally apologised to the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Connarty) in—of all places—the Members' Cloakroom.
§ Madam Speaker
The least I expect of all Members of this House when they go into print, especially on the Order Paper, is that they do their homework first and know which Member they are attacking. In other words, they must get it right.
Secondly, I have a copy of the early-day motion in front of me. It was signed by the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) and 29 other Members. All I can say about those other Members is that they put their signature to the motion without knowing what they were signing. I deprecate that.
I also deprecate the personal attacks in these early-day motions and across the Floor of the House. Increasingly as we move towards a general election we are concerned with the policies of the parties in this House, not with individual Members or personal attacks on them.
I appeal to the House: when Members go into print, they should do their homework and get it right; and let us stop these personal attacks which I see daily on the Order Paper and which I deprecate.