HC Deb 20 January 2004 vol 416 c1224

1.6 pm

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Last night, during the debate on the Civil Contingencies Bill, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg) raised a point of order. In response, Mr. Deputy Speaker ruled that the Minister for the Cabinet Office should place in the Library of the House the written advice that he had received from counsel, so that hon. Members could see it, unless he could produce an overarching reason why an exception should be made to the rule that such documents should be so produced. I have been in touch with the Library and understand that no such document has been placed there.

Do you, Mr. Speaker, agree that the Minister has two options? Either he places the document in the Library as requested, or he makes a written statement explaining the exception to the rule that he is relying on. Would you be prepared to make inquiries into this case, given the ruling that was given last night? An important fact is that the points of order were raised by Back Benchers, and you are the guardian of them and their rights.

Mr. Speaker

This matter came to my attention just before the hon. Gentleman raised his point of order. I shall look into it and get back to him.