POINT OF ORDER – PRESS LEAKS – 28 November 2000

Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for not giving you advance notice of this point of order, but yesterday I received a telephone call from a journalist on a senior regional paper in my constituency, asking me, in some detail, whether the provisions in the White Paper on which we have just heard a statement would have any bearing on the extremely controversial proposal to build a huge container port at Dibden Bay, a rural part of my constituency.

I wonder how that journalist knew in detail what the White Paper contained, 24 hours before the statement was made, and whether this is one more case of the Government disregarding your injunction to Ministers not to leak to the press before statements are made in the House.

[Mr Speaker: The hon. Gentleman will have to provide some clear evidence that the journalist was in fact in possession of the White Paper before it was presented to the House. I will need more than hearsay evidence. I do not doubt what he says, but it is only hearsay evidence.

... Mr Anthony Steen (Totnes): Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis), Mr. Speaker. I shall be brief, and not take the House's time, but this morning I received an e-mail from an august journalist who works for a highly regarded journal in my constituency. The e-mail contained a detailed list of questions about the rural White Paper. Would it be helpful to you, Mr. Speaker, if I let you see a copy of that e-mail?

Mr Speaker: Yes.]