§ Mr. John Butcher (Coventry, South-West)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will be well aware of the convention in the House that, when new Members make their maiden speech, it is customary to hear those speeches in silence. Perhaps a similar convention could be observed for the large number of Members who wish to make their valedictory speeches before their retirement. Many of our colleagues are at that interesting age, poised on the cusp between the recent arrival of wisdom and the future onset of senile dementia, and may therefore have a number of things to get off their chest under the privilege of silence. If you could rule that such a convention be observed, I am sure that it would benefit the collective wisdom of the House.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)
Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. [HON. MEMBERS: "Senile dementia."] A long time ahead yet. May I assure you, Madam Speaker, that most of us in the House who believe in speech-making and interruptions will not accept silence in our valedictory speeches. The more we are heckled and interrupted, the more the House and the Members will enjoy it.
§ Madam Speaker
May I respond to the original point of order. If I could distinguish between the voluntary and the involuntary valedictory speeches, I might go along with the suggestion.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. In view of the rather personal nature of Question 21, involving Mr. Perry Miller and Mr. John Kennedy and the book "Sleaze", has the Foreign Secretary made any request that his Ministers should answer the question, in order to clarify the rather difficult statements that are made in the book?
§ Madam Speaker
I fear that the hon. Gentleman is trying to extend Foreign Office Questions. I noticed the question that he had tabled on the matter, but I have not been informed that the Foreign Secretary has given any instructions about answering the question, unless of course it had been reached today, as I hoped that it might have been.
While I am on my feet, may I say that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is extremely good at handling questions. We tend to deal with a lot of its questions—more than any other Department. Had it been a little faster today, Mr. Dalyell's question would have been answered.