§ 10 am
§ Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek your guidance on the form of our debates, which appear to be causing problems with regard to time keeping. Two weeks ago, at an Adjournment debate involving a Foreign Office subject, at which, I think, the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) was present, a Minister was late, although I emphasise that it was not the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), who is never late for debates. As we know, he is always ahead of history and usually ahead of time. At the debate to which I am referring, the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz), was entertaining people who were accompanying the Queen of Denmark. There was, alas, a contest between his obligation to be here and his obligations to be polite to reigning European monarchs.
Such events always cause tension for parliamentarians, but they emphasise the need for flexibility in the form of our debates. I know that you will take such matters into consideration, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I hope that you can give me a ruling on whether some flexibility can be allowed today.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
I understand what the hon. Member is saying, but the rules are specific. If, at the appointed time, the hon. Member who is to open the debate is not present, the sitting is suspended until the time at which the next topic is to be discussed. Given that the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Gapes) is not in the Chamber, I am bound to suspend the sitting until 11.30 am.
§ 10.2 am
§ Sitting suspended.