HC Deb 27 February 2001 vol 363 cc714-5 3.41 pm
Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will be aware of the serious situation in the countryside as a result of foot and mouth disease. Almost every constituency is affected. Have you received any application from the Government to vary the business of the House for today? The debate that we are about to begin is singularly inappropriate for people who have been affected by the disease, as it is about a matter that has concerned them very deeply. I am sure that they would feel that the House would be displaying greater responsibility if we were to leave the subject, at least for today.

Mr. Speaker

The point that the right hon. Gentleman raises is not a matter for the Chair. However, I am sure that his concerns will be duly noted.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire)

On a slightly different point of order, Mr. Speaker. During questions to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food yesterday, when Madam Deputy Speaker was in the Chair, I asked for an undertaking that the right hon. Gentleman would keep the House informed while the foot and mouth disease outbreak continued. He replied, quite specifically, "No, I will not." Are you prepared to deprecate that statement, Mr. Speaker, and to ask the Minister to think again? [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a matter for me. It is for the Minister to make his replies. I have no control over the way in which the Minister replies in the House.

Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion)

On a different point of order, Mr. Speaker. Foot and mouth disease has been confirmed on the Isle of Anglesey, and there are suspected cases in my constituency and in that of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik). Thousands of visitors from Ireland on their way to Cardiff for Saturday's rugby union international are expected to travel through Anglesey and by routes to the south of my constituency. Have the Government given you any indication that they will give a further statement to the House to give leadership and guidance to agencies, Government Departments and quangos as to how problems arising from the foot and mouth outbreak should be dealt with? My constituency office is being inundated by questions from members of the public seeking guidance.

Mr. Speaker

Once again, I must say that this is not a matter for me. However, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's concerns will be noted.