§ Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Friday, I raised with Madam Deputy Speaker the Government's extraordinary behaviour on Thursday and the way in which the abolition of the office of Lord Chancellor was announced. Madam Deputy Speaker was very kind and said that she understood the concern in the House, which was fairly widespread. In view of the fact that there is a statement in the House of Lords today, I had hoped that the new Leader of the House would make a statement today to explain precisely the implications of the decisions and what the new Secretaries of State for Wales and for Scotland—if there are such creatures—are to do. Will you, Mr. Speaker, make inquiries on behalf of Back Benchers of all parties to find out whether the Government will send a Minister to tell us precisely what they are seeking to do?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I shall reply to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack), which might save the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) from raising his concerns.
I thank the hon. Member for South Staffordshire for giving me warning of his point of order. The statement in the other place is about the chairing of proceedings in the other place and no other matter. I share his concerns and I have been in touch with Downing street to ask that a statement be made. The Prime Minister has agreed to that and a statement will be made on Wednesday. I am sure that that will help the hon. Member for Nottingham, North.
§ Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Bearing in mind that we will get a statement from the Prime Minister, he might talk about what is happening regarding the Lord Chancellor. However, there is a matter of more immediate urgency for the House and hon. Members. We now have a Secretary of State for Transport and a Secretary of State for Scotland in the same person. We have a Leader of the House and a Secretary of State for Wales in the same person. When we table questions to the Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for Transport, may we also table questions on their responsibilities as Leader of the House and Secretary of State for Scotland, or will they be two different people when they come before the House to answer those questions? Will they wear a form of identification to let us know the capacity in which questions are being answered—as the Secretary of State for Wales or the Leader of the House, for example? Perhaps the Secretary of State for Wales could wear a daffodil and the Secretary of State for Scotland could put a thistle in his jacket so that there could be proper 41 identification of their roles and responsibilities at any time because, obviously, the public do not know and we will not know.
§ Mr. Speaker
I say to the hon. Gentleman that there is often no need to wear a thistle or any other emblem; the accent usually helps. Being familiar with Scottish questions, he knows that there is always a different slot for Scottish questions and Transport questions. I think that that practice will continue.
As I said, I know of the concerns of the Leader of the Opposition and members of the shadow Cabinet. I have expressed those concerns to the Prime Minister and I hope that he will be able to answer such questions when he makes his statement on Wednesday.
§ Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Given the exceptional constitutional impertinence of the Prime Minister last week and the track record of incompetence that the Government have shown in all matters relating to constitutional reform, will you ensure that the Prime Minister is aware that when he comes to the House on Wednesday, he should expect to answer all questions relating to whether he consulted all those that his constitutional duties require?
§ Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for West Derbyshire (Mr. McLoughlin) is urgent. We have Transport questions tomorrow. Transport is devolved for certain issues but not for others. We may want to question the Secretary of State for Scotland on Scottish planning matters that relate to airport policy. However, tomorrow the Secretary of State for Transport—the very same person—is appearing presumably to answer questions on transport. Will it be in order for him to answer the full remit of questions that fall within the same person's brier?
§ Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is the second time that the House has had to wait for the Prime Minister's convenience for him to make a statement to the House. Following the G8 summit and the shambles of last week, we have to wait until there is a happy coincidence between when he has to make a statement and when he has to be here to answer Prime Minister's questions. Is it really a satisfactory state of affairs for this House of 42 Commons to have to wait for Ministers to make a statement? Should they not come here at the first opportunity?
§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Gentleman trusts me on this matter, it is my understanding that Wednesday is the first opportunity for the statement. There are matters to which the Prime Minister must attend tomorrow. I shall not go into those, but they are genuine and concern long-standing engagements. I made the request because I wanted the House to have a statement from the Prime Minister, and it will be on Wednesday.
§ Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It was the source first of stupefaction and then of some merriment when early on in his statement the Deputy Prime Minister advised the House that the Government were completing the process of House of Lords reform. Does he know something that we do not, or are you, Mr. Speaker, privy to an imminent announcement on this important matter of which others are so far ignorant?
§ Sir Patrick Cormack
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that we are all extremely grateful to you for intervening this morning. Can you assure the House that you will allow questions to the Prime Minister on the wide-ranging statement to run for a fairly long time on Wednesday?
§ Mr. Speaker
If the next motion is agreed to, it will be for the Chairman of Ways and Means to decide, and he will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that the House is extremely grateful to you for telling us that you made that approach to the Prime Minister. In the past, of course, Speakers have been rather reluctant to talk about their exchanges with the Prime Minister, but clearly, from time to time, you are minded to approach the Prime Minister on behalf of the House. That being so, would it be proper for us as Back Benchers on occasion to approach you in order that you might approach the Prime Minister on our collective behalf?
§ Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I apologise to you and the House for my somewhat exuberant behaviour a little earlier? I think, as you saw, I was very exercised by the matter raised by the Deputy Prime Minister. I do apologise.