HC Deb 10 March 2004 vol 418 cc1523-4 12.31 pm
Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am aware that you are not responsible for the contents of ministerial answers, or for the contents of any answer that the Prime Minister gives this House, but you do preside over a House whose duty is to hold the Executive to account. When a Member of this House asks the Prime Minister a straight question, and the answer is about as related to that question as to the habitats of African elephants, how are we supposed to hold the Executive to account?

Mr. Speaker

As the right hon. Lady says—she is so right—I am not responsible for the content of the replies, but I am responsible for good order in the Chamber, and she was very noisy indeed today; she was noisier than usual, if I may put it that way. Reluctantly, I had to tell her off, and I hope that I will not need to do that again. [Interruption.] I do not need to tell the Prime Minister off; whatever answers he gives, they have nothing to do with the Chair. I have enough responsibilities.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of Back Benchers who listened to the exchange between my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister, may I ask whether you will entertain any request from the Secretary of State for Health to come to the House and explain what has been happening about the degenerative eye disease that they were speaking about? I have a constituent, Mr. Newman of Carterton, whose surgeon has told him that he is suitable for treatment on the NHS. The consultant would like to give him treatment on the NHS, but the money is not there. We need a statement from the Secretary of State for Health to explain why people such as my constituent, who will go blind if they do not get that treatment, cannot get it on the NHS now. This is not an issue of capacity; the Government are not being straight with us.

Mr. Speaker

I sympathise with the difficulties of the hon. Gentleman's constituent—I genuinely do—but the hon. Gentleman should go to the Table Office and table questions to the Secretary of State for Health on the subject. That is the way to do it.