HC Deb 02 November 2000 vol 355 cc863-4

2.7 pm

Mr. James Plaskitt (Warwick and Leamington)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In exchanges at Prime Minister's Question Time yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition cited what he described as new figures in relation to the share of national income taken in tax. It has come to light today that they are not new figures. In fact, they are very old figures and do not even take account of the 1 p reduction in income tax, the 10p rate of income tax or the working families tax credit. Have you had a request from the right hon. Gentleman to make a statement withdrawing what he said yesterday?

Mr. Speaker

These are matters for debate. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can take them up with the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Are we sure it is a point of order?

Mr. Bruce


I do not know whether you have yet had a chance to read the 17th report of the Standards and Privileges Committee, dealing with declarations of interest during debates in the House. You will know that the Commissioner upholds what we all understand to be the rule. The Committee seems to discount the fact that we have a rule whereby if there is any likelihood of an interest being involved in a speech, hon. Members should declare it at the beginning. Will you please study the rules and the report and advise the House on how you think that hon. Members should deal with this matter? The report directly criticises the Chairman of the Committee, who is effectively saying, "Well, the rules don't apply to me and perhaps not to anyone else in the House."

Mr. Speaker

The rules and the report are a matter for the House. It is a matter for the right hon. Gentleman how he conducts himself.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Earlier this week, there were some scandalous revelations about the state of affairs at the mortuary at Trafford general hospital, which serves my constituents. The state of the mortuary is a disgrace, the likelihood of infection being spread is apparently great, and so far there has been no sign of anything being done. I communicated with the Secretary of State for Health on Tuesday, to ask him to make an urgent statement on the matter. Has he indicated his desire to make such a statement and reassure people who are concerned about the state of the mortuary?

Mr. Speaker

The Secretary of State has not contacted me.

Mr. Malcolm Savidge (Aberdeen, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. With regard to the earlier point of order about the Chairman of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), I understood that it was part of the traditions of the House that a Member who intended to make an attack on another Member would inform that person first.

Mr. Ian Bruce

He has.

Mr. Savidge

Thank you.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I fully appreciate that you said you had noted those hon. Members who did not get called during business questions, but I wish to repeat the point that I raised last week—that junior Members of Parliament have only once chance every week to ask questions that are of crucial interest to constituents. I know that you have had a lot to think about in the past two weeks, but would it be possible for you to plan to allow a little more time for business questions?

Mr. Speaker

It is possible that I could allow more time for business questions, but the hon. Gentleman must understand that he was called to intervene during the preceding statement by the Home Secretary, and he spoke for too long. That delayed the Leader of the House getting to her feet, so the fault lies with the hon. Gentleman.