HC Deb 09 February 2000 vol 344 cc249-50 3.31 pm
Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Given the Prime Minister's inadequate responses today—[Interruption.]

Madam Speaker

Order. I decide whether it is a point of order. Let me hear what it has to do with me.

Mr. Evans

The Prime Minister's responses today were inadequate and there may be the implications for the House. It is too soon for you to have received a request from the Secretary of State for Wales to make a statement today on the National Assembly for Wales, but should he make one would you please accede to it as soon as possible so that we may question him about the involvement of the Prime Minister and Millbank in the appointment of a new leader of the Labour party in the Assembly?

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows that the Speaker has no authority in respect of whether Secretaries of State want to make statements. They make them when they wish to, without consulting me. They just tell me, and that is how it should be.

Mr. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I draw your attention to Sessional Order No. 4, which the House passed on Wednesday 17 November 1999? It requires the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to keep the roads leading to the House clear and free of obstruction when the House is sitting. You will have noticed the extensive roadworks in Parliament square, which are causing considerable difficulty to Members seeking access to the House. I understand that the Metropolitan police agreed with the contractors that those works should be carried out now without consulting Officers of the House, who were merely informed after the event. Will you instruct the Serjeant at Arms to discuss the matter further with the Metropolitan police to establish whether the Commissioner has carried out the order's requirements?

Madam Speaker

I understand that traffic disruption in and around Parliament square is on account of cabling work. The Serjeant at Arms warned Members of those works and they should be prepared for delays until early March. The Sessional Order to which the hon. Gentleman refers concerns matters such as demonstrations and processions, which come under the responsibility of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. It does not cover roadworks, which are of course the responsibility of Westminster city council. However, I am greatly concerned at the significant disruption in Parliament square and its impact on Members' ability to reach the House expeditiously. I regard it as most important that there is proper liaison, of which the hon. Gentleman spoke, and consultation between the council and our House authorities on such matters. I shall review the current arrangements in that connection so that we have better liaison as to when repairs can be carried out in that area. For example, we could mutually agree that they could be done during a parliamentary recess.

Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) to accuse another hon. Member—in this case, the Prime Minister—of lying in the House?

Madam Speaker

Certainly that is totally unacceptable in the House. I did not hear such a thing, otherwise I would have asked the Member concerned to withdraw it immediately. The hon. Member for Lichfield is here; could he offer me some explanation?

Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

I made no such statement. If I accused the Prime Minister of lying, of course I withdraw the remark. However, I am not aware of what the hon. Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) is talking about. I can only assume that she is referring to something that occurred during Prime Minister's Question Time. I am sure that the Prime Minister would not have lied, but if he had lied, I would have shouted "Liar".

Madam Speaker

Sometimes tempers in the House are a little more frayed than I would wish them to be. I accept the hon. Gentleman's word.

Mr. William Ross (East Londonderry)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Although you are aware of the content of questions on the Order Paper, you cannot possibly be aware of the supplementary questions during Prime Minister's Question Time. You will recall that questions were asked today about events in the Welsh Assembly. You will also be aware that the Scottish Assembly—

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde)

Scottish Parliament.

Mr. Ross

The Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly have certain devolved functions that are outwith the competence of this House. Madam Speaker, when a question is bounced on you from Back Benchers, how are you to decide whether the issue raised is a matter for this House or for the devolved institutions? Were the questions put today about the Welsh Assembly devolved matters or matters for this House?

Madam Speaker

The questions today were perfectly in order. I always come to the House prepared in my own mind to deal with such supplementary questions. I have good relations with the Presiding Officers of the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. We have arrangements whereby we can deal with such matters daily in the event of them coming before us. I assure the hon. Gentleman that nothing that has been said in this House since those areas were devolved has been out of order. I try to watch these matters carefully.