HC Deb 06 February 2002 vol 379 cc863-4 3.31 pm
Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have just made—perhaps The Prime Minister would listen to this.

Hon. Members

He's off.

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is a point of order before us.

Sir Peter Tapsell

Not for the first time, I wish The Prime Minister bon voyage.

You have just made the interesting and almost theological ruling, Mr. Speaker, that we must in future draw a distinction between the right hon. Gentleman who is now on his way to west Africa in his role as Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman in his role as leader of the Labour party. Are we to understand, then, that in future we may no longer question him when the Government's policies, as so often happens now, diverge from those of the Labour party that was elected to support them?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman can always ask questions about the Government's policies. The Prime Minister is here at Prime Minister's Question Time to answer questions regarding his role as Prime Minister, not as leader of the Labour party.

Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can we also take it that in future you will use your sound judgment and prevent The Prime Minister from misrepresenting Conservative party policy when in fact he is being questioned about his Government's policies?

Mr. Speaker

I think that I demonstrated that I was able to tell both the Leader of the Opposition and The Prime Minister when they were out of order, and I will continue to do so when necessary.

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I hope that it is not another extension of Prime Minister's Question Time.

Chris Grayling

No, it is not, Mr. Speaker. You will have heard me asking The Prime Minister at Question Time about his comments before Christmas. Since—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That sounds like an extension of Prime Minister's Question Time to me.

Chris Grayling

I assure you that it is not, Mr. Speaker. I am really asking this question knowing the importance that hon. Members attach to your judgment as a guardian of the interests of the House. When I have asked The Prime Minister, on two separate occasions, through written questions, to substantiate a comment of his that has been contradicted by someone outside the House, and he refuses to do so, what advice can you give me about how to pursue the matter?

Mr. Speaker

As I have said before, keep persevering.

Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In questioning The Prime Minister about the discharge of his duties as Prime Minister, is it proper for the House to question him about what influences may have been brought to bear?

Mr. Speaker

I say to the right hon. Lady what I said to the Leader of the Opposition: let us see how the questions are framed, and then I will make a ruling on them.