HC Deb 05 June 1997 vol 295 cc559-60

4.7 pm

Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. It has been announced on Ceefax this afternoon that the Home Secretary intends to abolish the primary purpose rule in immigration—it is said, today—and make an announcement. I take it, because we have not had a ministerial statement, that no application has been made to you, but I wonder whether, through you, we might make a plea that any major change to the immigration laws such as the primary purpose rule should be announced to the House first, not communicated to us through a Teletext statement.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman might try to raise that point with the Leader of the House, who is at the Dispatch Box and no doubt heard what he had to say.

Mr. Alasdair Morgan (Galloway and Upper Nithsdale)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As a new Member, I seek your advice. Press reports today indicate that the 1922 Committee of the Conservative party is considering a scheme whereby Conservative Members for English constituencies—of course, there is no other kind—will be asked to take under their wing some Scottish constituencies, especially those that the Conservatives lost at the recent general election.

The public in Galloway and Upper Nithsdale have made a clear decision as to who they wish to represent them and who they do not wish to represent them. I understand that hon. Members do not interfere in the constituencies of other hon. Members. I wonder whether you would consider that matter, and in particular whether that so-called adoption scheme would breach the rules of the House.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman will soon learn that I pay very little attention indeed to press reports but, as far as the substance of his question is concerned, it is entirely an internal party matter. It has nothing to do with me as Speaker and certainly nothing to do with this House.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Questions have been tabled by my colleagues and me, and today was the main day for reply. The questions have a specific bearing on the debate that is about to take place. The answers to those questions seem to be mysteriously not yet available.

Will you, Madam Speaker, guide me and the House? Surely there is a reasonable obligation on Ministers to provide answers in a timely manner to questions that are starred for a specific day, especially when the questions relate to a debate that is to be held in the Chamber.

Madam Speaker

Certainly, answers to all such questions should be available by 3.30 pm. I shall make it my business on leaving the Chair to ascertain what has happened.