CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

POINT OF ORDER – MEDIA LEAKS – 10 June 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order arises from a report in the Mail on Sunday yesterday, to which I have drawn your office's attention, by that newspaper's political editor. You will recall that, throughout the last Parliament and at various times during this Parliament, various hon. Members have complained that Government announcements have been made to the media before being made to the House. The political editor of the Mail on Sunday claims to have documentary evidence that that practice dates from a meeting at No. 10 Downing street during the last Parliament, called by the communications director at No. 10, Alastair Campbell, in which he stated:

"We have got to think up new ways of communicating our message and be less tied by parliamentary rules."

That seems to suggest a pattern, and a hand behind that pattern, of flouting parliamentary convention. I should be most grateful to you, as I am sure many other hon. Members would be, if you would endeavour to investigate this matter.

[Mr Speaker: I will not comment on media articles – it is not for me to do so – but I reiterate that I want Ministers to come to the House when any important matter has to be announced, rather than releasing a statement to the press. I hope that that helps the hon. Gentleman.]