HC Deb 26 July 1983 vol 46 cc1073-4 4.57 pm
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the increasing miliary involvement by the United States in central America and the danger to peace as a result of such involvement. The matter is specific because the United States authorities in the past week have increased their involvement and military intervention in central America. They are determined to blockade and destabilise a country whose Government are not approved by Washington. A battle fleet has been sent to the area, and more military advisers— as Washington describes them— are being sent to assist the Government in E1 Salvador— a Government who have the seal of approval of the White House, and who, moreover, have been described by the former American President Carter as one of the most bloody in the region.

The matter is important because such military intervention by the United States can easily escalate, with the danger of another Vietnam—; this time in central America. It would also have grave consequences for international relations in places far away from central America.

The matter is urgent because of all the military dangers that are involved. The House should be in a position to express an opinion on this matter before we rise for the summer recess. Many people in the United States are deeply concerned, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said at Question Time. Newspapers, Senators and Congressmen in the United States understand only too well how the venture that is now being embarked upon by President Reagan can so easily escalate, with all the dangers that are involved.

We should have an opportunity to express such an opinion. I have no confidence that the British Government will express the sort of view that I believe should be expressed. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, as we saw at Question Time today, echoes President Reagan. When abroad, Ministers simply echo and support what President Reagan is doing in central America. However, there is a different view here, as there was over Vietnam.

It would be most unfortunate if we were to rise for the summer recess— not to return until late October—without expressing a view on a military venture that could easily get out of control. The House of Commons should be able to express its point of view. Labour Members should be able to say to President Reagan that many in Britain—;in the House of Commons and outside—;take the same view as many Americans on his Government's military venture in central America. That is the point of view that I hope can be expressed, and that is why I am asking you, Mr. Speaker, to grant my application so that we can debate the issue.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing an important and specific matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, the increasing military involvement by the United States in central America and the danger to peace as a result of such involvement. The House has listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman said, as indeed have I, but, as the House knows, under Standing Order No. 10 I am directed to take account of the several factors set out in the order, but to give no reason for my decision.

I have given careful consideration to the hon. Gentleman's representations, but I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.

Mr. Winnick

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

No point of order can arise on that.

Mr. Winnick

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Without in any way challenging your ruling, if the situation worsens by tomorrow, bearing in mind the summer recess, will you be willing to consider another application without taking the view that that is an abuse of the Standing Order in question?

Mr. Speaker

That is a hypothetical question. We must wait to see what happens tomorrow.