HC Deb 05 March 2003 vol 400 cc928-30

Amendment made: No. 33, in page 15, line 4, leave out subsection (2).—[Mr. Raynsford.]

Bill, as amended in the Standing Committee, to be further considered tomorrow.

7.19 pm
Mr. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During the Committee stage, the Government tabled what is now clause 118, which will be considered by the House on Monday. At that time, the Minister for Local Government and the Regions was unable to provide the Committee with draft guidance and indicated that he hoped to be able to do so by the Report stage. The Opposition have tabled an amendment that would remove clause 118, but we did so only for the purpose of creating an opportunity for a discussion of the draft guidance on the Floor of the House. Have you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, received any indication that such draft guidance will he available before Monday's debate?

The Minister for Local Government and the Regions (Mr. Nick Raynsford)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it may help the House if I indicate to you, as I have done privately to the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond), that I have written to him and the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey), sending them the guidance, and I intend to make it more widely available by placing copies in the Library and by giving a copy to any hon. Member who would like to see one before next week's debates on the Local Government Bill.

Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes)


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

Order. I am obliged to both the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman. No further ruling from me is required.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During Monday's sitting, when we were discussing the prevention and suppression of terrorism, the Home Secretary said: I do not believe that there is a problem with people approaching their general practitioner for the smallpox vaccination."—[Official Report, 3 March 2003; Vol. 400, c. 596.] The Select Committee on Science and Technology has just heard evidence from, among others, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners, which said that that is not the case, cannot be the case, and should not be the case, and suggested that the reference by the Home Secretary should be retracted. Has the Home Secretary indicated to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether he intends to come to the House to make such a retraction, because it is very important that clear advice be given on those important counter-terrorism matters?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The short answer is that no such approach has been made, but the issue that the hon. Gentleman raises, however serious, is a matter for debate, and I am sure that it can be pursued in other ways now that he has put it on the record.

Mr. Steen

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Forgive me for interrupting while you were on your feet; I thought that you were about to sit down any second. Please forgive me for any discourtesy.

I want to raise with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the question of the ministerial door that leads from the Star Chamber Court up the back entrance to the Table Office. As a matter of course, that door is always open during Divisions. It was not open this evening. I am afraid that, with this modern technology, a lot of the plastic cards do not work effectively. I came a long way for that Division—from Norman Shaw North—but I had to miss the vote because the door was locked. I wonder whether you could ensure that that door is left open in future, as it has been in the past.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am sure that we are all very pleased to see the hon. Gentleman now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I will ensure that the matter is investigated by the Serjeant at Arms, so that Members are not obstructed in future.