HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc151-2 3.31 pm
Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Advocate-General for Scotland, in an answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt), suggested that there had been "filibustering" in the Committee that considered the Criminal Justice and Police Bill. I have raised the matter in advance with you, Mr. Speaker, and ask you to confirm that the three Chairmen of the Committee—the hon. Member for Clydesdale (Mr. Hood), my hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) and the hon. Member for Paisley, North (Mrs. Adams)—would have intervened had there been any filibustering. Since the issue has been raised, each of them has confirmed that ill the Committee's proceedings have been in order. The Advocate-General for Scotland should apologise, and withdraw her comment.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has made his point.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. My hon. Friend has made one of the points that I intended to make, but I take personal exception to the point made by the Advocate-General for Scotland. I received uncalled-for compliments from the Minister in the Standing Committee about how pertinent my remarks had been. Quite apart from the question of filibustering on Committees, the programming of the Committee will mean that 50 clauses will be dealt with on the final day. It is not the Government who are losing out, but the people of this country who will face legislation that has gone entirely unscrutinised.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a matter for me. As far as the Committee is concerned, the Chairmen on the Speaker's Panel are excellent, and I make no criticism of them.

Mr. Eric Joyce (Falkirk, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. At the beginning of Scottish questions, the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning)—not a famous Scottish location since it is in Devon—appeared to suggest that she was the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. Were you made aware of that, Mr. Speaker, as no such courtesy was extended to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a matter for the Chair.

Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I respond, since the hon. Gentleman gave me no notice that he would make that point? If he and his colleagues study carefully, they will find that I have shadow Cabinet responsibility for the constitution, which includes Scotland and Wales.

Mr. Speaker

That puts the matter right.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien (Eddisbury)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Are you aware that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has been touring the television studios? In particular, he appeared on Sky News, making what appear to be announcements about foot and mouth disease rather than making time to come to the House. Have you received any indication that the Minister will come to the House today to answer questions from hon. Members, including me, who have serious concerns on behalf of constituents worried about the foot and mouth crisis?

Mr. Speaker

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will most certainly be here on Thursday for his Question Time, so the hon. Gentleman need not worry.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food gave an undertaking last week that he would be available to the House to keep us properly informed and updated about the crisis. Since that undertaking was given to you as well as to the House, are you satisfied that the Minister seems to deem it fit to be in the television studios to make what amount to daily announcements but does not come to the House to be questioned by Members whose constituents are affected by the crisis?

Mr. Speaker

It is a matter of judgment for the Minister. The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) is quite right: the Minister gave the House an assurance that he would come to the House, and he has given an assurance to me. However, the Minister is entitled to use his judgment.

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