HC Deb 19 November 1996 vol 285 c858 4.38 pm
Mr. Roy Beggs (East Antrim)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. With reference to the Prime Minister's challenge to the comments made by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), I ask whether such a challenge was justified, bearing it in mind that early-day motion 93 tabled on 29 October was on record in the House, showing that every elected representative in Northern Ireland opposed the proposals to reduce the number of education and library boards from five to three.

Madam Speaker

I noticed that the hon. Gentleman got excited when the Prime Minister gave his answer during Question Time. However, the matter he raises with me now is not a point of order but a point of argument, and I may accept only points of order.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. On the significant point of principle as to whether hon. Members should be allowed to have their say before British troops are irrevocably committed to a dangerous situation, has the Secretary of State for Defence disclosed to you when he wishes to report to the House on the factual findings of Brigadier Jonathan Thompson and his reconnaissance team? He should report to the House so that he may hear hon. Members' comments on the subject before the Cabinet decides irrevocably to commit British forces to Zaire.

Madam Speaker

I have not been informed that the Secretary of State for Defence, or any other Secretary of State, is seeking to make a statement about Zaire today. I refer the hon. Gentleman to my comments yesterday, which I still have very much in mind.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I shall not point out that the Tories ran out of questioners halfway through the statement of the President of the Board of Trade. Did you notice that the Labour spokesman was joined by the spokesmen from the Scottish National party, the Welsh National party, the Ulster Unionists and the Liberal Democrats in opposing the statement? Is there any way of putting that fact on record?

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is trying to continue questions on the statement. He should have caught my eye at the appropriate time rather than seeking to use points of order in that way.