HC Deb 10 March 2004 vol 418 cc1627-8

Motion made,

That the Standing Orders be amended as follows:—

  1. (1) In Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business), line 18, leave out from 'committees' to 'which' in line 20 and insert 'to which that paragraph applies'.
  2. In Standing Order No. 121 (Nomination of select committees), line 10, leave out from 'under' to `, or' in line 13 and insert 'the Standing Orders of this House (with the exception of the Liaison Committee, the Committee of Selection, the Committee on Standards and Privileges and any Committee established under a temporary Standing Order).—[Charlotte Atkins.]

Hon. Members


Andrew Selous (South-West Bedfordshire) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I rise to seek your guidance on what is acceptable parliamentary language when referring to another Member. Earlier today, the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) was referred to in a manner that many people would consider gratuitously nasty. That demeans the reputation of this House, is not appreciated by our constituents and does not contribute to debate. What reassurance can you give us that you will not tolerate such language in future?

Mr. Speaker

I do my best to ensure temperate language in the House at all times. Obviously, I need the co-operation of every hon. Member, and such cooperation is not always the case. But I shall look at the record and write to the hon. Gentleman to see what we can do.

Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I fully understand the level of stress that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) must feel as he observes from directly across the Floor Liberal Democrats in ever-increasing numbers. May I suggest through you that, for the sake of his health and everyone's safety, he be asked to sit somewhere else?

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was sitting in this corner seat when the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Õpik) had got nappies on. I am still here and I shall be here when he has gone—done and dusted.

Now then, I am very interested in this wonderful Tory-Liberal pact. I have been waiting years for it and now it has burst out. What a funny crowd they are. Get to bed. [Laughter.]

Mr. Speaker

I sat next to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) in that corner, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of remarks that were never put on the record—thanks be to God. [Laughter.] All that I can say to the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) is that I have never seen the hon. Member for Bolsover being stressed at any time.

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD):

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I seek your guidance on, and protection from, impersonation of Members of this House? It has been drawn to my attention that in the Strangers' Cafeteria book, it has been alleged that "Bob Russell" made derogatory comments about Fair Trade chocolate and urged Members to eat Mars bars instead. [Laughter.]

Normally, such a bit of jesting would be all right, but I believe that there was malicious intent. The information was conveyed to the London Evening Standard, which regrettably did not check the story. It has attributed to me comments that I take seriously. I support the Fair Trade industry and any suggestion that I do not is derogatory to me. I therefore seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has explained his concerns to the House. It is, of course, not a point that the Chair can rule on. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman contact the director of catering services and the Chairman of the Catering Committee to ask them to investigate this very serious matter.

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