HC Deb 27 February 1997 vol 291 cc456-7 4.55 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Normally I recognise that a slip of the tongue is a relatively trivial matter, and I would certainly not raise it on a point of order. But when, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), the Leader of the House used the words "new information" it was crucial not only to the then argument, but to something else. Since 1993, my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) and a number of the rest of us have endlessly asked parliamentary questions of a precise detailed nature on what has now come to be known as Gulf war syndrome. It is not as if this subject was neglected by the House of Commons—it was not. There was a cascade of questions on the matter. In these circumstances, simply to say that there is "new information" that justifies the behaviour of the Minister of State for the Armed Forces is not satisfactory. I would ask that you give the Leader of the House the opportunity either to correct himself or to say what he meant.

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

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. With your permission, I would like to respond briefly in case there was any misunderstanding—although I am not sure that there should have been. As I understand it, Ministry of Defence Ministers were only told on 25 September last year that OP pesticides had been more widely used than previously stated. I believe that they then made that clear as soon as they could.

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