HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 c167 4.22 pm
Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Mid-Bedfordshire)

On a point of order arising out of Foreign Office questions, Madam Speaker. I suggested during questions to the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), that General Motors had considered withdrawing its support for Vauxhall in Luton, and that one reason given was the high value of the pound. The Minister said that my question was based on a false hypothesis, and he therefore would not answer it.

As many Labour Members know, what I said to the Minister about the withdrawal of support by General Motors was correct. I have the briefing paper from Vauxhall, which states that one of the reasons is the high value of the pound. I suggest that inadvertently the Minister misled the House.

Madam Speaker

That is an interesting situation and one that concerns the hon. Member's constituency. He might like to apply to me for an Adjournment debate, in which he can develop that theme and get a full response from the Minister concerned.

Sir Peter Emery (East Devon)

It has always been the tradition in procedure that interventions after a statement are put in the interrogative, as a question. We seem to be sliding away from that, with statements being made, not put in the interrogative, and often not even with a question at the end. Will you, Madam Speaker, reinforce the fact that hon. Members have been here long enough to learn that, according to the tradition of the House, questions must be questions, not just statements?

Madam Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct. He will know, as do many other hon. Members, that I often call Members to order because of the comments they make. It happens too in the case of hon. Members who are leading on an issue for their party. May I suggest—I think that it is a good suggestion—that the party Whips should give seminars to some of their Back Benchers and take them through some of our procedures? If I had the time, there is nothing that I should like more than to put on my mortarboard and give hon. Members lessons in how to proceed in the Chamber.