HC Deb 08 May 2001 vol 368 cc22-3 3.35 pm
Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister has just announced that the date of the general election will be 7 June. Given the grave events in Northern Ireland today, have you received any requests from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for the opportunity to speak to us? You will be aware that it has been stated that the leader of the Ulster Unionist party will resign if decommissioning does not start by July. No. 10 Downing street has already said that that would be a grave move with regard to the peace process. Have you received any request from the Secretary of State to come and speak to us today?

Mr. Speaker

The answer is no.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Further to the announcement made outside the House by the Prime Minister about a quarter of an hour ago—as it happens, it was made in my constituency—I have two questions. First, have you requested that either the Prime Minister or anybody else should make a formal announcement to Parliament about the Government's intentions? is it not more appropriate that the announcement should be made here, rather than in any school, however good it or the constituency in which it is situated may be? Secondly, do you have any indication of when the Leader of the House will inform us of the statement's implications for our business? Should she not make such a statement at the first available opportunity?

Mr. Speaker

It is a matter for the Prime Minister to decide where he makes the statement regarding the general election. The hon. Gentleman is a very fortunate man; it was 1964 when I last had a Prime Minister in my constituency. On his other question, I can tell him that 1 understand that the Leader of the House is coming to the House at approximately 7 o'clock this evening to make a statement. I hope that that is helpful to him.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the general election has been announced and the Leader of the House is coming to the Dispatch Box to make a statement, and in light of the fact that many businesses in our constituencies have been blighted by foot and mouth, whether they are involved in farming or in tourism, will you encourage the Leader of the House to make time before Parliament is dissolved for a statement to be made by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food or the Minister in charge of the rural affairs taskforce? Such a statement is needed to ensure that constituents who have been directly affected by the foot and mouth blight may know during the election period about the assistance that they can get. They cannot wait another four weeks until the election is over.

Mr. Speaker

That is a matter for the Ministers concerned.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have tried to give notice of this point

of order, even though I did so a relatively short time ago. During this Parliament. a number of complaints have been referred by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to the Standards and Privileges Committee. Are you concerned that those complaints do not seem to have been dealt with with the firmness that was applied to similar complaints made during the previous Parliament? Most recently, such a complaint has led to the censuring of a former Minister, but there is no proposal to inflict any punishment for three months, which ensures that the general election will be left way behind. Are you satisfied that the Committee is doing its work properly, bearing in mind the importance of ensuring that a Labour-dominated Committee in seen to be properly impartial when Labour Members appear before it?

Mr. Speaker

That is a matter for the Committee and also for the House. It is not a matter for the Speaker.

Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As a member of the Standards and Privileges Committee, I stress that every report in this Parliament has been unanimous. That was not the case in the previous Parliament.