HC Deb 08 December 1999 vol 340 c827 3.30 pm
Mr. Patrick Nicholls (Teignbridge)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Have you received a request from the Minister of Agriculture to make a statement on the catastrophic effect that the Intervention Board's decision—if it is allowed to stand—to remove from Devon the last over-30-month scheme abattoir would have on the farming industry and on animal welfare standards?

Madam Speaker

No, I have not. As the hon. Gentleman will know, if the Government intended to make such a statement, it would have been notified on the Annunciator by noon today.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker, of which you have prior notice. In the light of uncertainty on the matter, Madam Speaker, I wonder whether you are able today to inform right, hon. and hon. Members whether the Palace of Westminster will be open on new year's eve.

Madam Speaker

A number of hon. Members have raised with me the issue of whether the House of Commons should be open on new year's eve for the benefit of hon. Members and their families. I have made a very clear decision that—apart from a party for family and friends in my private apartments, which I normally hold on new year's eve—the Commons should remain closed on that night. Separately, I understand that the Royal Gallery in the House of Lords will be used earlier in the evening for a Government function.

I have based my decision that the House should be closed on the grounds of safety, expense and—most of all—consideration for the staff of the House, who should be allowed to be with their own families on that night.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady), the Prime Minister implied that he was responsible for expenditure, out of the new opportunities funds, on the Christie hospital, in Manchester, whereas the Prime Minister is responsible only—

Madam Speaker

Order. That is a matter of political argument and not for me. What is the hon. Gentleman's point of order, to me, which I might be able to resolve?

Mr. Blunt

I believe that the Prime Minister has inadvertently misled the House, Madam Speaker. What arrangements are there for him to be able to correct the record?

Madam Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman believes that the House has been misled and wants to clear up what he thinks is an erroneous point, he must find other ways of asking the Prime Minister a question on it.