HC Deb 25 March 2004 vol 419 c1072

1.20 pm

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

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In light of the remarks of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North and Leith (Mr. Lazarowicz), it might be helpful if I indicate that the Opposition generally provide the topics for their Opposition days if they fall on a Monday or a Tuesday, but in the interests of topicality we do not do that in respect of Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Mr. Speaker

That sounds more like putting the matter on the record than a point of order.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I caught the tail end of the comments of the Leader of the House on council tax, when he talked about the policy of Her Majesty's Opposition. Will you confirm that it is still a rule of the House that Ministers are present to account for the actions of the Government? They are here to account for what they said in their manifesto, such as: We will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them"; or saying, "We will reform the House of Lords." They are here to account for what the Government are doing, or not doing, not for what the Opposition may do in future.

Mr. Speaker

I have repeated time and again that at Question Time, including during business questions, Ministers should not indulge in speaking about the policies of the Opposition or of the Liberal Democrats while attempting to answer the question—they should be accountable for their own portfolio. I make it clear that it is different in a debate on the Floor of the House, when everything is open to criticism, including the policies of Her Majesty's Opposition.