Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Sir George Young: It would indeed be possible for the hon. Gentleman's constituents to argue to the inspector, under the process provided for by the Transport and Works Act 1992, both that they object to the proposal and that they can suggest an alternative way of meeting the need. It would then be up to the inspector to judge the merits of the argument, and to submit them in his report to me.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham): I welcome the way in which my right hon. Friend used his statement to trail an announcement relating to the promoter of the channel tunnel rail link. As he knows, the Government have chosen Ebbsfleet, 19 minutes from St. Pancras, as the channel tunnel rail link intermediate station: that will provide my constituents with magnificent connections to all parts of the country, north and south.

Sir George Young: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he has said. I have said on one or two occasions that I hope to make an announcement about the channel tunnel rail link shortly; I can say no more at this stage.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk): Today's announcement will be welcome in East Anglia, particularly in King's Lynn and west Norfolk. The borough council has lobbied hard for the project, not least because it will provide new economic opportunities.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the recent announcement that the King's Lynn to London route is to have new Networkers, and can he confirm it? More broadly, does he agree that his statement shows the Government's commitment to public transport?

Sir George Young: I am grateful to my hon. Friend: what he has said is, indeed, the case. The Thameslink 2000 diagram, which I have before me, reveals new opportunities for the King's Lynn-Cambridge-Royston line, through connections and the opening up of destinations in the south.

I thank my hon. Friend for what he said towards the end of his remarks. The Government are indeed committed to driving up standards on the railways, and enabling them to play a greater part in taking traffic off the roads.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham): My right hon. Friend has spoken of the benefits for the south coast from Brighton to Bognor Regis. The Kent lines through Eltham and New Eltham will benefit particularly from the flyover at New Cross and the Borough Market junction proposals. Do the Liberals seriously want Borough Market junction to be taken out of the scheme? Virtually everyone has been fighting for better public transport links in south London for the past 20 years.

Sir George Young: As a north London Member,I hesitate to intervene in a dispute between south London Members. My hon. Friend was right in what he said at the beginning, however: Thameslink 2000 will provide enormous opportunities for people in south-east London.

27 Feb 1996 : Column 733

Points of Order

4.3 pm

Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will be aware that, last Thursday, I dropped you a note and a copy of a statutory instrument, the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1996. I dropped you that note because that issue--the proposals to change the statutory instrument--was first flagged up three years ago. Certainly the current incumbents of office--the Ministers--at the Department for Education and Employment told me in January that it would be ready in February, and it was. It was rushed through--some people might say hastily--to meet the commitments given in the Standing Committee on the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill.

The instrument not only lacks coherence: it lacks legibility. When I was a teacher, had a group of students brought it in to me, I would have sent them back--DFEE and all--and told them to repeat the exercise until it was in a form that was legible, coherent and acceptable to the House. I seek your advice on whether the instrument is in an acceptable form to be presented to hon. Members.

Madam Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. I understand, as he says, that the instrument laid before the House last week contains a number of manuscript alterations to the printed proof. I have taken the trouble to look at the instrument to see it for myself.

The form of the instrument is a matter for the Department concerned, and I suggest that the hon. Gentleman must pursue his inquiry in that direction.I have myself made further inquiries, and I understand that the Minister was attempting to be helpful to the Committee in laying the draft instrument at the earliest opportunity. Perhaps the reason why there were so many manuscript amendments was his attempt to help the Committee at that stage.

Mr. John Butcher (Coventry, South-West): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will be aware that, over the centuries, the House has gained its powers and privileges through its ability to deny or grant the supply of moneys to the Executive, and the decisions that the Executive makes. A decision will soon be made to spend a large amount of money--raised through public subscription--at a particular location to celebrate the millennium appropriately. The Millennium Commission is unelected, and it is a large amount of money.

If the Secretary of State for National Heritage were to come to you and request a short debate and a free vote, in which the representatives of all parts of the country could express a view, I am sure that it would be excellent therapy for those who can become hyper-ventilated over the issue, and would be seen as an endorsement of the decision, or a recommendation, after which there could be no argument over who rightly secured the investment of that money.

Madam Speaker: That is hardly a point of order, but I understand that the hon. Gentleman needed to ventilate the matter. He may, of course, care to put it to the Leader of the House during business questions, because it is a matter for him, not for the Speaker.

27 Feb 1996 : Column 734

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. This morning, for the first time that I can remember, I noticed that openly armed police officers were around the outskirts of the Houses of Parliament. I understand that you are not responsible for police activity outside of the House, but only for the inside.

I am as interested in security as any other hon. Member in this place, but were you consulted before that rather dramatic decision was taken? If you were not consulted, do you know whether leading Members of the House were consulted? I feel that it is not a welcome development, although we all know the reasons for it. However, it looks as though we are somewhat under siege in this place,and I feel that, by giving that impression, we are in many ways giving way to the terrorists. I wonder whether you would like to reflect on the matter, and tell us exactly how the decision was taken.

Madam Speaker: I refuse to discuss matters of security across the Floor of the House. If the hon. Gentleman would care to see me or the Serjeant at Arms privately, he will be most welcome.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You are the defender of Back Benchers' rights in this House. During our questions to the Secretary of State for the Environment, there was only one question--Question 5--on local authority revenue. You will have noted that, after the question from the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) was answered, there was an immediate use of an ancient practice to gag further questions on that subject.

The Labour party is clearly embarrassed by the Government's generosity this year in the settlement for local government finance, and it was an unfair abuse by the Labour Opposition to gag Back Benchers on a very important subject.

Madam Speaker: It is the prerogative of hon. Members to use our procedures. I think that the hon. Gentleman who acted in that way is seeking a full Adjournment debate on the matter, so that more time can be made available for questioning on the Floor of the House.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South): Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle), Madam Speaker.I thank you for your ruling and guidance on that matter,but may I draw to your attention a possible related procedural complication?

The printing of the substantive document and its distribution may be delayed. It has been made available to the Committee, but it is of importance to every school organisation, every school governor and every education authority across the country.

It so happens that the statutory instrument is germane to the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, whose Committee stage is drawing to a close. It is also germane to that Bill's Report stage. However, by the time the Bill reaches its Report stage, either the statutory instrument will have been debated in Committee or it will not.In either case, the question arises whether there will have

27 Feb 1996 : Column 735

been sufficient time for its substantive printed version to have been made available to interested parties. Should it be debated in Committee or on Report?

Madam Speaker: I said that it was a matter for the Department concerned, but I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. Some of the Ministers on the Government Front Bench will no doubt have noted the hon. Gentleman's comments.

Next Section

IndexHome Page