HC Deb 12 November 2001 vol 374 cc572-3 3.31 pm
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will know that under the Human Rights Act 1998 an order was made yesterday and laid before the House today, and it will be effective tomorrow. You will know also that it provides for a derogation from article 5 of the European convention on human rights so as to allow detention without trial. It refers specifically to the existence of a public emergency in the United Kingdom and to an Act that has not yet been published as a Bill and cannot be obtained from the Vote Office.

Have you received a request by the Home Secretary to make a statement? If not, would you be good enough to use your good offices to try to persuade the right hon. Gentleman to come to the House at the earliest opportunity and make a statement on what is, on any view, a serious derogation from human rights?

Mr. Speaker

I have no power to make the Minister make a statement. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made his point, and I have no doubt that the Minister will have heard him.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is on a different matter. With a majority of the size that we face, it is to the power and protection of the Chair that the Opposition must look. Are you aware that the Animal Health Bill, which we will debate this afternoon, touches on issues concerning the slaughter of animals which are fundamental in light of foot and mouth disease? Is it sensible for such a Bill to be introduced before the report of the Government's inquiries, held in private, has been assessed by the House and when we are unable to determine whether the Bill is truly needed?

Mr. Speaker

I think that the hon. Gentleman seeks to have the occupant of the Chair make a political statement, and I would not want to do that. These are matters for debate, and it is up to the hon. Gentleman to catch my eye and make those points.

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Further to the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), could you ask the Home Secretary to come to the House later today? The order laid before the House today proposes huge changes to our human rights legislation, and at the very least we need the opportunity to ask the Home Secretary on what basis he is making those changes.

Mr. Speaker

As I have stated, I have no powers to make the Home Secretary come to the House. As for asking him to do so, there is nothing to stop the hon. Gentleman asking him.

Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The climate change talks in Marrakech concluded over the weekend, and I understand that progress was made on agreements between countries on fighting climate change, but the United States still remains outside the Kyoto treaty. Have you had any indication from any member of the Cabinet that they wish to come to the House to make a statement on climate change talks, which will have an immense effect on this country in future?

Mr. Speaker

I have had no contact from the Minister concerned.

Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have frequently criticised Ministers who have made statements outside the House before the House has been informed. You will be aware that, over the weekend, there were leaks in all the papers about the changes to human rights legislation and about the introduction of internment without trial. However, even now, after that leak to the press, there is to be no announcement to the House. Could you unequivocally condemn that, Mr. Speaker, and ensure that it never happens again and that statements are made to the House, not just to the newspapers?

Mr. Speaker

A debate will be held next Monday and the right hon. Gentleman can make those points then.

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry to trouble you, but the Home Secretary has spoken of a public emergency. Are there no rules of the House that insist that, when there is a public emergency of such extraordinary dimensions as to require legislation and an instrument of this nature, the Home Secretary should come to the House?

Mr. Speaker

There are no rules.