HC Deb 24 November 1992 vol 214 cc753-5 4.17 pm
Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recall that yesterday, in reply to a point of order from the hon. Member for South Dorset (Mr. Bruce), you ruled that, when a Minister refers to an official document, that document has to be laid on the Table.

You will be aware that, during the debate on Iraqi exports, the President of the Board of Trade quoted from an official document, and that the matter was raised on a point of order by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). He asked whether the ruling that you had made earlier in the day applied, at which stage the Deputy Speaker ruled that the decision had been made that, when a Minister quotes from a "state paper", he must lay it on the Table. That ruling was much narrower than your ruling earlier in the day.

I understand, however, that, following a further approach late last evening, you agreed to consider the matter further and to give us your decision today. Is it in order to ask whether you have had time to consider the matter, and whether you can let us know your decision?

Madam Speaker

The President of the Board of Trade did quote yesterday from a paper. I can tell the House now that the whole of that document will be laid before the House.

Mr. Derek Conway (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Following yesterday's debate in the House, has the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) sought your permission to make a personal statement to substantiate his allegations that Lord Justice Scott has been "nobbled" by the Government? Many of us believe that he must be prepared to substantiate that scandalous allegation in the Chamber. Has he made such an application?

Madam Speaker

No application has been made by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I heard yesterday's exchange on whether Lord Justice Scott would be compromised by the Government, in which my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston said, "Yes, I believe that Lord Justice Scott will be compromised by the Government." I believed it then, I believe it now and, quite frankly, the only reason why the Government are refusing an independent tribunal under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 is because they want to participate in setting up a whitewash inquiry.

Madam Speaker

No point of order arises.

Dr. David Clark (South Shields)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recollect that, earlier today during defence questions, I asked a supplementary question to Question 9, in which I raised the arms trade with Iran, which we believe may be illegal. I asked whether Lord Justice Scott's inquiry would cover relations and the arms trade with Iran, to which the Under-Secretary replied in the affirmative. To avoid any confusion, will you confirm that an assurance given to the House by an Under-Secretary overrides any decision or guidelines laid down by the Prime Minister?

Madam Speaker

The Chair makes no comment on the remarks of Ministers, at whatever level. The hon. Gentleman will have to find other means of probing the Government to obtain the information that he is seeking.