HC Deb 24 February 1994 vol 238 cc546-7 10.24 pm
Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It has been reported on tonight's BBC news that the Foreign Office has confirmed that it is concerned about apparent statements by the Malaysian Government concerning the freezing of trade between Malaysia and Britain. There are other unconfirmed statements about diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Britain in the context of inquiries in Britain into the financing of the Pergau dam project and the abuse of British aid. If that news is accurate, it is very serious for British trade and for the jobs of the people of this country. As British interests are at stake to such an extent, should not we have a statement from the Foreign Secretary—if not this evening, certainly tomorrow—to clarify the situation?

Before Ministers or any other members of the Conservative party point the finger at the media or at the Labour party, let them think about this further example of the abuse of power by a Conservative Government.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

The Chair has received no information whatsoever about whether there is to be a statement. No doubt Ministers will have noted the right hon. Gentleman's remarks.

Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I support the request for a statement tomorrow. However, I give notice that, irrespective of whether it is granted, the motion of which my party has already given notice for next Tuesday will take these latest developments into account.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House of Commons has an annunciator system, but recently there seems to have been inadequate notice of statements. The statement that has been requested for tomorrow is extremely important—in fact, vital. I am sure that our relations with Malaysia involve textiles—something that would affect my constituency. I hope that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, can ensure that, if a statement is to be made tomorrow, sufficient notice will be given on the annunciators. I very much hope that you will use whatever influence you have to encourage the Government to make a statement. Hon. Members should have sufficient notice to enable them to be present, bearing in mind the fact that Friday tends to be a rather specialised day on which attendance is somewhat thin.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If a statement is to be made, due notice will be given.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As the Leader of the House is in his place, does not courtesy demand that he indicate that the Government take this matter extremely seriously and that he will ensure that a statement is made in the House tomorrow? It is very discourteous to fail to provide this information now and to leave hon. Members to obtain it, possibly on the annunciator system, at some point tomorrow. Surely in respect of a matter as serious as this, the Leader of the House should come to the Dispatch Box now and tell us what is happening.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

This cannot be continued. Enough has been said.