HC Deb 20 May 1998 vol 312 c973 4.25 pm
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I take hon. Members back to Prime Minister's Question Time, when the Prime Minister appeared to tell the House that there was no rebuttal officer dealing with NHS waiting lists? I wish to point out for the record that the Secretary of State for Health gave two parliamentary answers dated 11 May to my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce). The one specifically entitled "Civil Service Rebuttal Officer" confirmed: The Department's communications planning unit"— which is costed at £86,000 a year— includes a rebuttal officer".—[Official Report, 11 May 1998; Vol. 312, c. 40.] It goes on to describe the rebuttal officer's job. The Prime Minister may not have known that, but the record is clear.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You and your predecessors regularly call, "Ayes to the right, Noes to the left". I therefore take it that "No" is a respectable vote in this House, whether people are right or wrong. It was regrettable today that there were those who were urging a "Yes" vote, and there was no opportunity for anyone to say no.

Madam Speaker

That is an abuse of a point of order. It is not for me to become involved in politics. The hon. Gentleman is usually a gracious Member of this House and does not normally behave in that fashion. I hope that he stands—or sits—reprimanded.