HC Deb 14 June 1988 vol 135 cc214-5


Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) about the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle), Mr. Speaker. Not keeping up-to-date lists of Members' interests can be extremely misleading to hon. Members. Last week, as you probably know, an injunction was to be taken out against the BBC in connection with the highly successful concert at Wembley on behalf of Nelson Mandela. When many of us looked at the rules of the House and at Members' interests, we believed that the hon. Member for Luton, North had gone on a major publicity spree for that concert, and had come to his senses by opposing the apartheid regime in South Africa. We thank him for that.

However, having read The Guardian and the other sources of publicity given on Saturday to the hon. Gentleman's injection of South African money, we understood that giving the concert money had been a crass mistake on his part. So it can be misleading if Members' interests have not been kept up to date. We came to our conclusion wrongly, but we still want to thank the hon. Member for Luton, North for the massive publicity that he gave to that successful concert.

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you confirm that it has always been regarded as wholly in order for hon. Members to put into the Register of Members' Interests visits that they may make to another country, whether at their own expense or at the expense of a foreign Government? My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) has recorded such visits in the past.

Mr. Winnick

He is a paid South African agent.

Mr. Forth

Will you confirm, Mr. Speaker, it is as legitimate for my hon. Friend to make such visits as it is, for example, for the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) who had an ANC-funded visit to Tanzania, which is also in the Register of Members' Interests? To avoid confusion, it would help the House, my hon. Friend and me if you could confirm yet again that there is nothing wrong with hon. Members going on fact-finding trips to other countries, at their own or at another Government's expense, if such trips are recorded in the Register of Members' Interests? That is a widely practised phenomenon.

Mr. Speaker

In the interests of the whole House, I confirm that that is absolutely correct. Hon. Members have every right to undertake visits, and should record them in the Register of Members' Interests, which is always available for Members to consult.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) has been calling out from a sedentary position that I am a paid representative of the South African Government. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that this matter was brought before you some two weeks ago, and that the hon. Gentleman reluctantly withdrew those remarks then. May I ask you to do the same today?

Mr. Speaker

I did not hear what is alleged, but if the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) made those remarks from a sedentary position, I ask him to withdraw them as a matter of honour.

Mr. Winnick

I am a man of honour, but the fact remains that the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) went on various trips to South Africa——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am not concerned with that. It would help the House and me, if the hon. Gentleman made those remarks, if he would now withdraw them. He is an hon. Member, and I am sure that he would expect the same from a Conservative Member.

Mr. Winnick

May I resolve the matter, Mr. Speaker, by saying that I do not withdraw anything, but if you ask me——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the remarks, not to qualify them.

Mr. Winnick

I was about to conclude by saying that, without changing my mind in the slightest, if you, as the Speaker of the House of Commons, ask me to withdraw, I obviously have no alternative, and I do so.