HC Deb 10 June 1993 vol 226 cc435-45 3.31 pm
Mrs. Margaret Beckett (Derby, South)

Will the Leader of the House state the business for next week?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)

Yes, Madam. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY 14 JUNE—Consideration of Lords amend-ments to the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Bill.

Proceedings on the Representation of the People Bill.

TUESDAY 15 JUNE—Consideration of Lords amend-ments to the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill.

Ways and Means resolution relating to the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

WEDNESDAY 16 JUNE—Completion of consideration of Lords amendments to the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill.

Motion to amend schedule I to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975.

THURSDAY 17 JUNE AND MONDAY 21 JUNE—Debate on a Government motion to approve the defence estimates 1992 (Cm. 1981).

FRIDAY 18 JUNE—There will be a debate on the Government's strategy for science, engineering and technology, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Mrs. Beckett

I thank the Leader of the House for that report and for his acceptance of our demand for a two-day debate on the trade union legislation so that we can expose the frightening consequences for personal freedom of the last-minute decision by the Government to use this legislation to allow employers, in effect, to fine people for being members of trade unions—a legal right normally threatened only in dictatorships, not in democracies.

I also thank the right hon. Gentleman for arranging the defence White Paper debate, and seek an assurance that this year's White Paper debate will take place on the normal schedule and not two years late, as with the one on which he is reporting today.

I remind the right hon. Gentleman also that we have repeatedly pressed for the Government to keep the House in touch with the situation in Bosnia by means of either statements or a debate in Government time.

Finally, will the Leader of the House arrange for the Prime Minister to make a statement to the House on a most important matter which touches not only the rights and liberties of the House, but our ability to defend the public interest?

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that, on 10 November, my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition pressed the Prime Minister to set up a full inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 into what is known as the Matrix Churchill affair; and that when, later that day, the Attorney-General announced the form of the inquiry—an independent departmental inquiry—he made it clear that inquiry in that form would not render the matter sub judice in the House.

This was explored further on 12 November, as reported in Hansard at column 988, when the Prime Minister explicitly stated that the form of the inquiry was chosen so that the matter would not be sub judice and so that hon. Members would be open to questions. The right hon. Gentleman confirmed this again in a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Smith) on 22 February.

Since then, we have had a string of refusals by Ministers to answer questions, in the form of saying that this is a matter for the Scott inquiry—in sharp contrast to the Prime Minister's assurance—but culminating in an answer given on 7 June to a question by my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition in which he asked the Prime Minister about making it a policy of the Government, as he had previously said, to give substantive answers to questions on this matter. The Prime Minister's answer was no; Ministers would not give substantive answers to any questions on the matter.

The Leader of the House will appreciate that, in consequence, the Table Office refuses even to accept questions on any of the issues now before the Scott inquiry. He will know that that is clean contrary both to the precedent set by the departmental inquiry into the Bank of Credit and Commerce International and to the assurances that were given repeatedly by the Prime Minister.

The decision keeps the matters not only away from questioning and debate on the Floor of the House but out of the domain of public knowledge because hon. Members are not permitted to publish questions that the Table Office has refused. It is a most serious matter for the liberties of the House. As the Prime Minister gave the assurances, I ask the Leader of the House to arrange for his right hon. Friend to make a statement to the House on the matter.

Mr. Newton

In view of the importance that the right hon. Lady obviously attaches to the matter, I shall take her last point first. I think that I would carry you with me, Madam Speaker, in saying that the question of what is or is not sub judice is to be determined by you, with advice to you, rather than by me. Equally, the policy of the Table Office towards the acceptance of questions is not a matter for me or for the Prime Minister.

The Government argued when the inquiry was announced, and it is still my understanding, that the form of inquiry did not render the matters formally sub judice. However, other Ministers and I have made it clear that we do not think it appropriate to respond to questions of the kind that the right hon. Lady has apparently in mind at a time when the Scott inquiry has been asked to conduct a thorough and independent review of all the matters. That is the common sense and propriety of the position. I answered a question along those lines in the course of deputising for the Prime Minister a week or two ago.

I will draw to my right hon. Friend's attention what the right hon. Lady has said. No doubt the matter will be noted by you, Madam Speaker, and by the House authorities.

On the right hon. Lady's other points, I am not sure that I recognised her description of the process that led to a two-day debate on the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill. Nor do I recognise or accept her description of the clause on which she spent most of her time. I acknowledge that, gracefully and with the usual understanding displayed in discussions through the usual channels, the Government felt it right to respond to the Opposition's request that two days should be allowed for debate on that matter. I am grateful that the right hon. Lady has, in her own way, acknowledged that.

I am grateful also for the right hon. Lady's thanks for the fact that I was able to meet yet another of her many demands, in this case the two-day debate on the defence estimates. I assure her that our aim will be to debate the forthcoming defence estimates for the following year on a more normal timetable, if it is possible. That is our aim and intention.

With reference to Bosnia, I have said several times that the Government are always ready to make a statement if they feel that some development or change in the situation justifies it. In any event, it would seem that, subject to whatever you, Madam Speaker, may say, a two-day debate on the defence estimates will provide some opportunity for hon. Members to advert to those matters next week.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as the President of Bosnia is planning to be in this country next week, it would be appropriate to have a statement on that country? While I accept entirely his remarks about the defence debate, may we have an early debate on the role of the United Nations in the matter?

Mr. Newton

I simply take note of my hon. Friend's latter point, without perhaps raising his expectations too high that I will be able to find time for a debate in the near future. I note also his reference to the forthcoming presence of the President of Bosnia in this country. Although I understand why he put the point in the way that he did, I do not want it to be thought that the presence of a particular person in this country is a reason for a statement to be made.

Mr. Nigel Jones (Cheltenham)

Following last night's indecently short debate on local government capping, will the Leader of the House find time for a full debate on local government? The House could then take stock of the shortcomings of the council tax and review the bizarre ideas of the Local Government Commission. That body is wasting large sums of taxpayers' money at a time when local services are being cut.

Mr. Newton

I note the hon. Gentleman's request. I am sure that he is making representations to Sir John Banham, who has indicated that he is very ready to listen to representations about the work of the Commission.

As for last night's debate, my eye falls on the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay), who helped to make the debate even shorter for almost everybody else by speaking at excessive length.

Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

When will the Government announce their policy on regional aid? There is considerable concern in Bury and Bolton that assisted area status is to be removed. The community that I represent would welcome an early statement to the contrary.

Mr. Newton

My hon. Friend knows that my right hon. and hon. Friends are working very hard on the review of the assisted areas map. I certainly cannot speculate from the Dispatch Box about the outcome, but I am sure that my right hon. Friends will note the point that my hon.

Friend has made and will certainly be concerned to bring these matters to the stage of a decision and announcement as soon as possible.

Mr. Doug Hoyle (Warrington, North)

May I revert to the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) about the refusal of Ministers to answer questions on the Scott inquiry? Surely the Leader of the House will agree with me that if Ministers refuse to answer questions it is not a matter for the Speaker or for the Table Office. They are debarred from doing so by the Minister's own actions, and it is the Ministers who are refusing and putting the block on, not the Table Office or you, Madam Speaker.

Mr. Newton

I meant no more than that the policies and practices of the Table Office are not determined by Ministers. It is for Ministers to determine for themselves whether they think it appropriate to answer particular questions in particular circumstances. On that I have made the position clear.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

Will my right hon. Friend arrange a special debate about the need for local authorities to exercise better discipline over unruly tenants? It is surely not necessary for a local authority to demolish a whole estate because of lawlessness. Cannot local authorities issue immediate injunctions on unruly tenants?

Mr. Newton

I am not immediately familiar with the precise powers of local authorities in that matter, although what my hon. Friend says seems to make sense. The circumstances in which a local authority might decide to demolish a particular estate, I imagine, would embrace a range of factors, including the extent to which it thought that the basic circumstances, surroundings and nature of the estate contributed to problems which could be better overcome by building new accommodation.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Pursuant to the important questions put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, North (Mr. Hoyle), is not the Leader of the House sheltering under your skirts, Madam Speaker? It is not the Speaker's responsibility. Erskine May" says on page 292: Questions are not in order which renew or repeat in substance questions already answered or to which an answer has been refused or which fall within a class of question which a Minister has refused to answer. The buck is with Ministers and not with Madam Speaker.

Mr. Newton

I can do no more than repeat what I said to the hon. Member for Warrington, North. Ministers do not determine the rules in "Erskine May", or indeed the interpretation and application of them by the Chair or by the Table Office. Ministers determine whether they think it appropriate to answer questions in particular circumstances. I have restated and defended the position of Ministers on that.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

May I ask my right hon. Friend for a debate next week on the provision of suitable shopping facilities with access for pensioners and others in any area so that I may raise the deplorable decision of Sainsburys to close the store at Greenford Broadway that has been there for 61 years? It is causing great concern to the people of the area because they will lose an irreplaceable facility. The matter should be discussed in the House; it is important to a community and it is typical of what is happening in other areas.

Mr. Newton

I and the Government can perhaps be expected to accept responsibility for many matters, but the location and practices of Sainsbury's stores—of which I am fairly frequently a customer, but not in that location —are not among them. I am, however, sure that, knowing the sensitivity of such firms to their customers and to representations on their behalf, the management's attention will undoubtedly be drawn to my hon. Friend's remarks.

Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann)

May I refer the Leader of the House to the call made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath), and repeated in The Times today, for the appointment of a senior Minister, backed up by a unified, nationwide anti-terrorist agency—to which Ulster Unionist Members would add, reinforced by comprehensive United Kingdom-wide legislation—to combat terrorism? May we have an early statement with regard to those matters, because we would strongly support the line that the right hon. Gentleman recommended?

Mr. Newton

Inescapably, a number of different agencies are involved in anti-terrorist operations. The hon. Gentleman will know of the arrangements for the fast and effective sharing of intelligence between those agencies. I have no doubt that my right hon. and learned Friends who are principally concerned—the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Home Secretary—will take note of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and the hon. Gentleman have said, but a very strong case would have to be made before one added yet another agency.

Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the case in the Hampshire courts involving a girl of eight years of age who a judge thought was partly responsible for the attempted rape of her when an 18-year-old boy baby-sitter was in the house? Is it possible to have a debate—I know that it may be sacrilege to say so—on the curious utterances of some judges in courts? The judge's statement has more or less prejudged the integrity not only of the eight-year-old girl but of the entire family.

Mr. Newton

I rather doubt that it would be appropriate to have a debate on that case and, while I recognise why he felt it right to raise the subject, I am sure that my hon. Friend will understand that the conduct of judges is a matter for my right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor. I would not think it right to comment on a judge's decision and remarks in a particular case.

My hon. Friend will also know, and I am sure will have taken some encouragement from, the fact that papers are, I understand, being prepared for consideration by the Attorney-General on the question of a reference to the Court of Appeal for the sentence to be reviewed. However, that is entirely a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Will it be possible next week, or as early as possible, to have a debate on the way in which the Government go about their business? In view of the criticism and the devastating remarks made yesterday by the former Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont), would it not be appropriate to take note of his remarks so that the House may have the earliest opportunity to debate the points that were made? Opposition Members would then have a chance to criticise the way in which the Government conduct their business day in and day out.

Mr. Newton

No doubt the hon. Gentleman could have found an opportunity in the debate yesterday, had he succeeded in catching your eye, or that of one of your Deputies, Madam Speaker. Since the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) appear to me to be totally and flatly contradictory to the type of criticisms that the Opposition make of the Government, I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman would get very far.

Dr. Robert Spink (Castle Point)

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House knows that Castle Point borough council was capped last night, although it is not a profligate council. I was denied the opportunity to give a full explanation of that decision—an explanation that hon. Members and the people of Castle Point deserve to hear —while Opposition Members spoke about it. Will the Leader of the House find time as soon as possible to give me an opportunity to explain that to the people of Castle Point and to the House?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) may have considered my remarks to have been a little harsh, but I thought that the length of the hon. Gentleman's speech deprived my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Dr. Spink) of the opportunity to respond to the criticisms that 'Thurrock' made of 'Castle Point'. I do not know whether I can arrange a full debate for my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point, but if I can find a way to provide an appropriate opportunity for my hon. Friend to make his case, I shall certainly do so.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Môn)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretary of State for Social Security to make a statement, preferably tomorrow, about the way in which the Benefits Agency conducts itself in its consultations with local communities about the transfer of facilities from one office to another? In my constituency a local community in Holyhead was given only 14 days' notice of the transfer. What are local communities to do when they are given such short notice? Will the Secretary of State come to the House to explain the Benefits Agency's actions?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman will know of my former experience as Secretary of State for Social Security and that, as this is the first time that I have heard of the matter, I cannot comment on it at the Dispatch Box. I know from my previous experience that it is the policy to mount a proper consultation process with local people about such issues. I shall bring the hon. Gentleman's comments to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Will the Leader of the House provide time to debate the report of the Select Committee on Members' Interests on commercial lobbying, which has now been published for about two years? The Select Committee, which has a Conservative majority, was concerned about the sleaze and corruption that surrounds Parliament. In view of recent events which show that employees of Asil Nadir have clearly been at the heart of government, is it not time that we had a debate on the issue—or are the Government determined to keep the affair covered up? The excuse of shortage of time is inadequate when two years have now elapsed. That points to the fact that the Government are frightened of sleaze being uncovered.

Mr. Newton

As I have said on a number of occasions, I am seeking an appropriate opportunity for the House to discuss both the report to which the hon. Gentleman referred and the one on which the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) so frequently presses me. However, I am not encouraged when I hear the sort of speech that the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) plans for such an opportunity.

Mr. David Young (Bolton, South-East)

I have heard what the Leader of the House said this afternoon about assisted area status, but there is great concern in Bolton and Bury about the press speculation on the issue. Although the Leader of the House cannot give a date for a statement, will he give an assurance that the Government's proposals will not be announced during the recess?

Mr. Newton

I expect that my right hon. and hon. Friends will wish to bring the issue to the stage of decision and announcement at a time appropriate for the House. As I am not in a position to make definite statements about timing, I cannot say more than that this afternoon.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)


Madam Speaker

Mr. Harry Barnes—[Interruption.] Sorry, Mr. Harry Cohen.

Mr. Cohen

Harry Barnes is a good bloke too.

A recent parliamentary answer revealed that the Government planned to push ahead with their privatisa-tion policies, which include privatisation of the police national computer. That privatisation will have enormous civil liberty implications as criminal records will go into private control. Therefore, will the Leader of the House urge the Government to reconsider the issue? Failing that, may we have a full day's debate on the matter in the House?

Mr. Newton

I do not think that I can promise a full day's debate, but I can promise to bring the issue to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.

Mrs. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

In view of the consultations taking place up and down the country about the charges for water that are to be made next year and thereafter, and in view of the fact that, in Yorkshire, customers are being asked to choose between an increase of between 6 and 11 per cent. over the rate of inflation, is the Leader of the House prepared to suggest that the House should have a full debate on the principle of how we charge for water, how we keep charges down and how customers can get a decent deal from the water industry?

Mr. Newton

I am not in a position to promise the hon. Lady the debate that she wants. She will want to reflect on whether her constituents would want important water quality and treatment of water waste projects to be disadvantaged in the way that might result from the sort of policies that I suspect she has in mind.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement to be made by the appropriate Minister on the question of Lloyd's, the posh gambling den where many of the people from the belly of the establishment, including as many as 47 Tory Members, are up to their necks in debt? Given the precarious nature of the Government's majority, will the right hon. Gentleman guarantee that not a single penny piece of taxpayers' money will be used to bail out those Tory Members? No set-aside schemes!

Mr. Newton

I shall deal with the hon. Gentleman's basic question, asking me to arrange a statement on these matters. The answer is no.

Mr. John Austin-Walker (Woolwich)

May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to the recent report by Amnesty International about acts of terror and abuses of human rights in the occupied territories? May I further draw his attention to remarks made to the Foreign Secretary by a delegation of hon. Members who recently visited the occupied territories? Will he find time next week, if not for a full debate, then for the Secretary of State to come to the House and make a statement on ways in which the Government may be able to bring pressure to bear on the Government of Israel to prevent them from frustrating the peace process?

Mr. Newton

I cannot promise a separate statement, but my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be here to answer questions on Wednesday next, which may provide the hon. Gentleman with his opportunity.

Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

Will the Leader of the House look again at early-day motion 1928 and find time next week to debate the issues surrounding illegal Sunday trading—or are the Government determined not to hold a debate so that we cannot expose the financial supporters of their party who are allowed to continue illegal trading and closing down small shops?

Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman mentioned early-day motion 1928, which concerns Manchester United football club. I think he meant 1929, which relates to the Shops (Amendment) Bill—his Bill.

[That this House notes the recent rulings of the European Court and the House of Lords upholding the Shops Act 1950; now demands that major national retailers set an example by closing their stores on Sundays in observance of the rule of law and in recognition of the sovereignty of Parliament; and urges the Government to support the honourable Member for Ogmore's Shops ( Amendment) Bill which received a majority of 173 at Second Reading on 22nd January and which was amended in Committee to make it a compromise solution so that it both meets the reasonable needs of consumers, including DIYs, garden centres as defined by the Horticultural Trades Association and convenience stores up to 3,000 square feet in size, and substantially maintains the special character of Sunday.]

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Government do not support his Bill. We propose to introduce our own Bill, embracing a range of options. That is the right way to proceed, and that is the way we intend to proceed.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for the Home Secretary to make an urgent statement on the family reunion policy for Bosnian refugees, about which there is growing concern? Is he aware that there are many vulnerable people in Bosnia, including Mrs. Sadeta Draganovic, a widowed mother of three young children who lost her right to come here following the murder of her husband? She is anxious to join her close relatives in this country. There is also a 13-year-old girl in a detention camp in Croatia who cannot come to this country to join her grandparents because she does not fit the Government's eligibility rules.

Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for an urgent inquiry into this policy—and arrange for it to be considerably relaxed?

Mr. Newton

If I know the hon. Gentleman, he will already have made representations direct to my right hon. and learned Friend on these matters. If he has not, I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will read in Hansard what he has said. I shall certainly not attempt to do more than undertake to ensure that the hon. Gentleman's remarks are drawn to his attention.

Mr. Mike O'Brien (Warwickshire, North)

Will the Leader of the House, pursuant to previous answers to questions about the Scott inquiry, confirm that there is no rule of parliamentary procedure that prevents Ministers from answering questions and that a political decision has been reached to break the Prime Minister's promise because to answer the questions may lead to embarrassment for Ministers?

Mr. Newton

I can certainly confirm—and nothing that I said on the numerous occasions on which I have referred to the matter this afternoon conflicts with this—that answers to questions are matters for Ministers to determine. I shall not attempt to go beyond that because there is nothing that I can usefully add to what I said earlier.

Mr. Gareth Wardell (Gower)

Further to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mrs. Jackson), may I ask the Leader of the House whether he read the all-party Whip drawing attention to the problem of drinking water in the House? The notice said that, unless the taps were marked "Drinking water", it was dangerous to consume water in the House. Could he make a statement about what obnoxious materials come out of the taps in the Commons and about what behaviour of hon. Members we should be on the alert for so as to show tolerance for their behaviour and to advise them that they should not drink any more of the stuff in case there are deleterious consequences for their health?

Mr. Newton

I have been advised by my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip to make some reference to W. C. Fields. I do not immediately recall the quotation, but I suspect that it has something to do with the advantages of drinking other than water most of the time. I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman's remarks have been heard by the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee, the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell), who is sitting almost immediately behind the hon. Gentleman. If the hon. Member for Ogmore cares to devote some attention to that, he may find it a welcome diversion from the problems of his Shops (Amendment) Bill.

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to reply to me about my constituency receiving training credits and the statement that I had the cheek to condemn the Government? When I checked with the Renfrewshire enterprise trust—

Madam Speaker

Order. May I help the hon. Gentleman? Is he requesting a debate next week about a matter concerning his constituency? If he is, perhaps he will let us know quickly and precisely what the matter is all about?

Mr. Graham

I was about to request a statement about a misleading statement to me that my constituency benefits from training credits. When I checked with the company that gives out training credits, I was told that there was none in my constituency. There were six in Dunbartonshire, which is across the river, and there were some in Grampian. Therefore, a misleading statement was made in the House and I should like a Minister to make a statement about thãt.

Mr. Newton

In view of your generous offer, Madam Speaker, to help the hon. Gentleman, may I suggest that the best way for him to seek to enlist your help would be to apply for an Adjournment debate?

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Is the Leader of the House aware that at this moment a peaceful 24-hour occupation of County hall is taking place in protest at County hall being left empty, at proposals to turn it into a hotel and about the fact that London still desperately needs a strategic authority'? May we please have a debate on London? The Leader of the House promised us one in the past, but we arc still waiting for it.

Mr. Newton

My recollection is that there was a substantial opportunity for a debate on London during, I think, the last Consolidated Fund Bill debate. I would need to check that, but there was certainly an opportunity not long ago. I am delighted to hear that the occupation of County hall, deplorable as that may be, is peaceful. That is in striking contrast to what went on there when it was occupied.

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

As the President of the Board of Trade has been surprisingly shy and timid in failing to come before the House to make a statement this week, will the Leader of the House find time for an early debate on the impact of last week's pit closures on the lives, pension rights and home security of the miners concerned and the impact on the economy of the areas affected?

The Leader of the House will understand that areas such as my constituency of Stoke-on-Trent will lose millions of pounds in wages and economic activity as a result of the closures. We need to know from the Government what form, speed and size of economic assistance will be made, and whether the Government back British Coal's vindictive attitude in calling the redundancies voluntary when they are compulsory. As the Leader of the House now understands, those miners will lose mortgage insurance rights. [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker


Mr. Newton

The hon. Gentleman is repeating at some length the point he made yesterday. I understand that, in view of his constituency interest. I am sure it was noted by my right hon. Friend, and equally I am sure that what he has said today will be noted.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker

Later. I shall take points of order after the personal statement.