HC Deb 19 April 2000 vol 348 cc981-2 3.31 pm
Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In March this year, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions issued to outside organisations guidelines on full local transport plans. That document has been made widely available to outside organisations, including motoring organisations, but it is not available in the Vote Office. I serve on the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs, and it is valid to make the point that this document should have been circulated to all members of that Committee, and should be available at least in the Vote Office.

Madam Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving me notice of her point of order. As the House knows only too well, I am most vigilant in seeking to ensure that Ministers meet their obligations to Parliament. On this occasion, I have no criticism to make of the Department's activities. The issuance of guidance on full local transport plans, to which she referred, was announced in a written answer on 27 March, and a copy of the document was placed in the Library. It is a matter of ministerial discretion whether copies of documents of this nature are also placed in the Vote Office, taking account of a document's significance, the likely interest in it and resource constraints.

In this case, Ministers decided not to place copies in the Vote Office, and I happen to think that that was a reasonable decision. Any Member who has a particular interest in a document is, of course, able to consult it in the Library, to obtain a personal copy through the Vote Office in the usual way, or to call the Department and ask for it.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have given you notice of it.

Madam Speaker

No, I do not have it.

Mr. Heath

I beg your pardon, Madam Speaker. I sent it to your office, and I apologise if it has not reached you. As you know, Madam Speaker, the Government have announced their intention to add a variety of genetically modified maize to the national seed list. I raised this matter in business questions last week, and I seek your guidance. Representations against that addition are governed by regulation 21 of the Seeds (National Lists of Varieties) Regulations 1982, which require people wishing to make a representation to pay a sum of £30 to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and pay an additional £60 if they want to make a direct representation.

I seek your guidance, Madam Speaker, on whether matters of privilege are raised if right hon. or hon. Members of the House want to represent their constituencies and feel strongly about this matter, but have no way of raising it, because it is not part of any business before the House—except by providing a £30 cheque, which 1 have done.

Madam Speaker

I did not receive notice of the hon. Gentleman's point of order, but that does not matter; I shall try to deal with it in any case.

The hon. Gentleman raised the question of privilege, which means that I must consider his point of order immediately and give him a written answer. I shall do so now that I have heard what he had to say.