New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: May we have a debate in Government time entitled "The Fallacy of Atheism"? I defy any right hon. or hon. Members to refuse to believe in the existence of God having read today's edition of the Argus in which the most judgmental and sanctimonious Member of the House admits to having pocketed between £20,000 and £30,000 by paying rent to himself for a constituency office in his own home.

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Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I assure you that this Point of Order has nothing to do with the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker)?

Mr Andrew Love: Why not? [Laughter]

Dr Lewis: I think that the hon. Member for Lewes has done enough to himself.

Mr Speaker, you have rightly drawn attention to the distinction between that information which has been released early and that information, such as Members' home addresses, edirectory telephone numbers and bank account details, which has been stolen as a result of a criminal breach of the Data Protection Act. What guarantee is there that the same thing will not happen again with the next year's claim forms and receipts if the House insists on handling them in electronic form rather than in paper form? If the House had not handled that material in electronic form, it would have been impossible for people to steal the private data, which everyone, whatever they think about the claims – the substantive data themselves – must agree should never have been copied.

[Mr Speaker: I have to be careful about what is said on the Floor of the House regarding hon. Members' private business and that of their staff. The Clerk of the House, as the corporate officer, felt that there was a criminal matter involved, and he took it up with the police. Perhaps some clarity can be given to the issue: the Clerk felt that there was a criminal matter and, he, as the corporate officer, took it up with the police. I endorse what he had to do. Now that we have called in the police, I have to be careful about my response to the hon. Gentleman and his point of order. I know that he will appreciate that.]