§ Mr. Dalyell
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which should have urgent consideration. namely,The statement by General Sir Geoffrey Baker, Chief of the General Staff, that he would like to see British soldiers fighting in Vietnam alongside Australians as in two world wars.It is specific in that according to the Daily Telegraph, General Baker was attending. an official Press conference in Canberra. It is important since it is out of keeping with the British political tradition that generals, however eminent, should make loaded political statements—contrary to Government policy.
Above all, it is urgent, as in the present critical situation in Laos and Cambodia it may well be desirable for the British Government to seek to act as a mediator as a co-chairman of the Geneva Convention. Any hope, however slender, of a successful mediation would be jeopardised if the Government failed to repudiate statements such as that of General Baker, who said:I am very sorry indeed Australian troops have been fighting on their own.This issue raises some rather deep other issues both of relations between senior officers and the Government, and British foreign policy in South-East Asia.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,The statement by General Sir Geoffrey Baker, Chief of the General Staff, that he would like to see British soldiers fighting in Vietnam alongside Australians as in two world wars.Under Standing Order No. 9, Mr. Speaker is directed to take account of the various factors set out in that Order but not to pronounce on the merits or to give any reasons for his decision. I have given consideration to the hon. Gentleman's representations, but I have to rule that his statement does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and I therefore cannot submit his application to the House. We must get on to the Orders of the Day.
§ Mr. Thorpe
On a point of order, if it is possible to raise a point of order by courtesy of Government supporters. Of course we accept your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but, as the right hon. Gentleman is present, would it be possible to ask whether, as the Leader of the House will have taken note of the concern obviously felt in some quarters about what must be a matter of some constitutional importance, it would be possible for the appropriate Minister to make a statement on the matter in the near future?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. However, I have no doubt that the Leader of the House will have noted what the right hon. Gentleman has said.