§ Mr. Brian H. Donohoe (Cunninghame, South)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have given notice of my intention to raise with you a matter of major concern. I understand that you have copies of the offending material to which I shall refer.
At 4.40 pm yesterday I received a call from my local newspaper, the Irvine Times, asking me to comment on answers given to questions raised by me about the Irvine development corporation's housing transfer. I had been given only a holding answer, dated 13 May, which I supplied to you. The local paper, however, had been faxed full answers. You must understand, Madam Speaker, that this is a highly critical period. The housing stock is being transferred from the development corporation, and tenants are shortly to be balloted on whether they want their new landlord. Moreover, as the local paper's deadline was yesterday evening, I have no chance of putting my case to the local people.
I feel that you, Madam Speaker, must condemn what I would describe as disgraceful action on the part of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, and call him to the House to explain his conduct. After all, he has withheld information from the House and from me in particular.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Kynoch)
Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. The information came to my attention less than two hours ago: that was the first that I had heard of it. I understand that information was released to the media without the authority of any Minister, and I have asked the permanent secretary at the Scottish Office for an urgent inquiry into how the administrative error occurred. I apologise to you, Madam Speaker, and to the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Donohoe). No discourtesy was intended, and I will get to the bottom of the matter.
§ Madam Speaker
This should not have happened. The hon. Gentleman has been given an apology and assured of a full explanation as soon as an inquiry has been carried out, which I appreciate.
§ Mr. Bernard Jenkin (Colchester, North)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You have often admonished hon. Members for visiting other hon. Members' constituencies without their consent. Could you take action against the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) who, this morning, visited my constituency for a futile, anti-Government media stunt, at the expense of me and my constituents, entirely without my consent?
§ Madam Speaker
I have no authority to take action against any hon. Member. I have merely made a plea, on numerous occasions across the Floor of the House, for hon. Members to give notification. The matter should be resolved between hon. Members; after the numerous statements that I have made on the matter, it should never come to the Chair of the House. It is a petty matter, although I understand that it is irritating to hon. Members 963 when other hon. Members appear in their constituencies without their knowledge. Hon. Members should give notification of such visits, if only as a matter of courtesy.
§ Mr. Skinner
I read in the paper today that the Government have put up a poster in Vauxhall, in Lambeth—over the bridge—saying that although it has hurt, supposedly it is now working. That constituency does not belong to John Major or the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any of those on the Treasury Bench. I do not think that they ever tell the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) what they are doing.
§ Madam Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is fully aware that that is not a point of order for me. I have not seen the poster, but I shall make a point of doing so during my walk tomorrow morning.