§ Mr. Thorpe
On a point of order. I seek your leave, Mr. Speaker, to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 on a matter of definite, urgent, public importance, namely,The refusal of Her Majesty's Government to countermand the delivery to Beira, Mozambique, of 12,000 tons of crude oil, the property of British Petroleum Ltd., being carried by the British ship "British Security" which is now at sea and whose cargo is destined for delivery to Rhodesia within the next few days.In my submission, there can be no doubt that the matter is definite—it is a fact that this cargo is being carried in this ship destined to this port, ultimately to be delivered to Rhodesia. Therefore, nothing further needs to be said on that count.
With regard to the urgency; this is a cargo which is likely to be delivered within a matter of three or four days. The case of urgency, therefore, speaks for itself.
With regard to the third limb, namely, the public importance of the matter, I urge upon you, first, that this is a matter which has occupied the attention of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House by way of Questions and in the course of debate; secondly, that it is a matter with which the Security Council of the United Nations has dealt and in respect of which Her Majesty's Government have already cast their vote; thirdly, and finally, the importance is that this is an indication of the determination of Her Majesty's Government by all means to end the illegal régime in Rhodesia.
In that connection, it is noticeable that an ultimatum has been delivered to Her Majesty's Government by an organisation, the merits of which may have different interpretations but whose result may 252 be that nine members of the Commonwealth will seek to leave the Commonwealth if Britain fails to show adequate determination.
Therefore, in my submission, on all three counts the case is made out and, accordingly, I ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman rose——
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member must resume his seat when I am standing. I am dealing with a point of order under Standing Order No. 9. I think that the hon. Gentleman can leave it to the Chair.
§ Mr. Speaker
Can I assure the hon. Gentleman that I do not need assistance? I have been addressed by the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) at some length and with complete clarity on the reasons why he seeks to invoke Standing Order No. 9.
The hon. Gentleman wishes to raise under Standing Order No. 9 a matter which he regards as definite, urgent, and of public importance, namely,The refusal of Her Majesty's Government to countermand the delivery to Beira, Mozambique, of 12,000 tons of crude oil, the property of British Petroleum Ltd., being carried by the ship "British Security" which is now at sea and whose cargo is destined for delivery to Rhodesia within the next few days.The precedents which bind the Chair in this show that if the matter was known the previous day and, therefore, not raised at the earliest opportunity, it falls on the count of urgency. A near parallel is to be found in the OFFICIAL REPORT for 22nd November, 1950, col. 343. In the present case, a Question by another hon. Member, the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling), was tabled yesterday and now stands on the Order Paper for answer on Thursday. The matter was thus known yesterday and should have been raised yesterday if it was to be considered under Standing Order No. 9.
§ Mr. Warbey
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Might I call your attention to the point made in the submission of the hon. Gentleman, that a new fact was that the Government have refused——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The House has given the Chair a very difficult task to do in the question of the application of Standing Order No. 9. I hope that when the House has come to a decision on Standing Order No. 9 it will not be questioned by hon. Members.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
On a point of order. Does not this also raise an important question for future occasions as well as for this one? Is not my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) perfectly correct in the sense that a new point his arisen, in that only today have the Government refused to take action in this matter, and that that raises an immediate question? It could not possibly have been known yesterday that the Government were to refuse the action. If the House were to accept your Ruling in this case, Mr. Speaker, with great respect, it would appear that it would govern many future decisions, in the sense that a decision by the Government which has only just been announced would not be regarded as a matter of urgent public importance.
§ Mr. Speaker
As a general principle, I think that what the hon. Gentleman has said is unexceptionable. There may be cases in which the argument that he has 254 sought to address to me might be of validity. It is of no validity in this one and we must move on.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw your attention to the fact that only today has it become clear and admitted that this ship, which is carrying the oil to Southern Rhodesia, is the property of a company in which the Government have a controlling interest, so that the Government are directly responsible. This was not known until today.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do hope the hon. Gentleman will take note of what I have said. I must not allow him to argue what was in the mind of the hon. Gentleman who tabled the Question yesterday. He knows no more than I do what was in his mind. The Parliamentary facts are as I have stated; the Ruling is as I have stated, and I must ask the House to accept it.