Speaker tires of bickering London MPs Hands and Slaughter

July 1, 2009 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

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The Speaker of the House of Commons has declined to become involved in a spat between two London MPs with neighbouring constituencies.

On Monday Greg Hands, Tory MP for Hammersmith and Fulham, raised a point of order on “a serious issue.”

“Last week, without informing me, the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush (Andrew Slaughter) organised an open meeting in my constituency for residents of two of my constituency estates, entitled “Hands off our homes”.

“The invitation was signed “Andy Slaughter MP” and it declared a number of falsehoods in relation to alleged plans “to demolish the estates and force everyone to move”, which is wholly untrue.

“This is an outrageous interference in another Member’s constituency, and I would be grateful for clarification on how we are to uphold the conventions and courtesies of the House.”

Mr Speaker said MPs should respect the existing boundaries of each other’s constituencies.

“They should not venture into neighbouring constituencies in anticipation of future boundary changes—but which boundary changes have not taken place—without prior notification of the hon. Member concerned,” he said.

“The hon. Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush (Mr. Slaughter) is in his place, and I feel sure that he has noted what has been said.”

Mr Slaughter, a Labour MP, then raised his own point of order.

“For the record, I asked him to tell me when he would make his point of order and the details of it, but he refused,” he said.

“I am quite happy to deal with the points that he has raised and to deal with them with you, Mr. Speaker.

“However, that point of order is a trick that the hon. Gentleman tried repeatedly and regularly with the previous Speaker until he became bored with the issue.

“Those matters, which the hon. Gentleman deals with in his capacity as campaigner for the candidate in Hammersmith and Fulham, a constituency that the hon. Gentleman has abandoned, should be left to his other job outside the House, not to the job that he does here.”

Mr Speaker said Mr Slaughter had not made a point of order “but a continuation of the debate, into which I know he would not seek in any way to entice me.”

However, Mr Slaughter raised the issue again yesterday.

“On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that yesterday the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands) raised a point of order relating to my conduct.

“I do not believe that was a matter for the House, as it concerned my role as a prospective parliamentary candidate.

“However, I did not have the opportunity at that time, not having noticed the subject, to correct what I believe was an entirely inaccurate statement, and I would like to do that for the record.”

Mr. Speaker said: “No, I do not think I can allow the hon. Gentleman to do that.”

Mr. Slaughter tried to speak again but the Speaker told him to sit down.

“I heard the point of order from the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham (Mr. Hands) yesterday, and I heard the response of the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush (Mr. Slaughter),” Mr Speaker said.

“I hope he will understand when I say that I do not want a continuing and essentially political debate to take place through the device or contrivance of a point of order.

“I feel that I have heard quite enough on the matter from both hon. Gentlemen who are parties to the dispute, and I do not think the House will benefit from any further utterances on the matter today or, probably, for some time.”

Not deterred, Mr Slaughter risked the wrath of the Speaker by asking how he could secure a correction “to an accusation of dishonesty by me on to the record.”

Mr. Speaker called Mr Slaughter “an extremely experienced political campaigner.”

“He will be familiar with the opportunities that exist for him in the media, including his local media, to put robustly on the record his version of events,” he said.

“I have a hunch that he will not long delay doing just that.”

In line with the recommendations of the Boundary Commission, at the next general election Mr Slaughter’s seat will be abolished.

The section falling within the London Borough of Ealing will be combined with parts of central Ealing to create a new Ealing Central and Acton constituency.

Shepherd’s Bush, part of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham will, be combined with the northern part of the current Hammersmith and Fulham constituency to create a new Hammersmith seat.

Mr Slaughter will contest Hammersmith.

Mr Hands will fight another new seat, Chelsea and Fulham, at the next election.

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