HC Deb 16 December 1998 vol 322 cc984-5 4.30 pm
Mr. Giles Radice (North Durham)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Could you give some guidance to the House on the application of the Parliament Acts to the European Parliamentary Elections Bill?

Madam Speaker

Yes. The rejection of the European Parliamentary Elections Bill for the second time by the other place now brings into play the provisions of the Parliament Acts. The House of Lords will be asked to return the Bill to this House, where it will be prepared for the Royal Assent. The Parliament Acts require that, before a Bill is presented for the Royal Assent under this procedure, it has been sent to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the Session in which it was rejected for the second time. The Bill was sent to the Lords on 3 December. In order to comply strictly with the requirements of the Parliament Acts—and I certainly intend to interpret the Acts strictly—it cannot be submitted for Royal Assent until a month after that date.

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. It may be for the convenience of the House if I say now that the Government will not ask the House to agree any motion directing that the Parliament Acts should not apply.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. This morning, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions launched a policy document on shipping at 10.30. That document is still not available in the Vote Office. Instead of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announcing non-policies this afternoon, would it not be better if the Government made policies that they have decided available to Members of Parliament?

Madam Speaker

Would those Members on the Front Bench who are responsible for seeing that documents are available do so immediately? Perhaps I might have an explanation of why the document was not available in the Vote Office.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will have noticed that the Prime Minister in the House today, and the Foreign Secretary elsewhere, have been scrupulous in avoiding giving any information that might relate to any operations that might be carried out in the near future by British forces. In the event that any such operations are begun, may I take it that you will look sympathetically on any efforts to ensure that the House has the opportunity to discuss those matters before rising for the Christmas recess?

Madam Speaker

I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate—I am sure he does—that I am scrupulous about such matters. I take to heart what he says and I think that I know the full feeling of the House, too.

Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Before this afternoon's debate and the vote on the Government motions in the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, I would like some clarification on whether the principle behind the motions needs to be decided by the House before any alteration, as described in the amendments, is voted on.

Madam Speaker

I shall deal with that if I am allowed to get on to the main business.

Mr. Tony McNulty (Harrow, East)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

No. Let me get on to the main business before I take points of order that relate to it.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. At Prime Minister's Question Time, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition raised points about payable tax credits. In responding, the Prime Minister seemed to be answering a different question, on the subject of yesterday's statement on pensions. In order to avoid that discontinuity, would it be possible to have the amplification equipment checked in the recess, to ensure that the Prime Minister really understands what is going on?

Madam Speaker

It would be better all round if all hon. Members—and that includes Back Benchers—were rather less noisy at Question Time. Then we could all hear perfectly what was said from the Dispatch Boxes and from all the Benches.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)


Madam Speaker

Is it necessary? I seem to have mushrooming points of order today.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you clarify whether you will take points of order before you rule on the order in which amendments and motions are taken? Is that what is agreed?

Madam Speaker

I am trying to get to that point so that I can give an explanation to the House. First, I want to get the presentation of the Bill out of the way.