HC Deb 17 June 1999 vol 333 c580 1.41 pm
Mr. Andrew MacKay (Bracknell)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In light of this morning's High Court judgment in favour of the ex-paratrooper witnesses at the Saville inquiry, have you had any request yet from Downing street about the Prime Minister coming to the House of Commons to amend the terms of reference that he inadequately gave the House? They have caused those ex-paratroopers to be scared for weeks about the consequences of their names and details being given to the inquiry. That could have led to a loss of life.

As we know from a written answer from the Secretary of State for Defence, the legal fees have cost the taxpayer more than £1 million. At a time when paratroopers are being sent by the Government to Kosovo, where they do an excellent job, it is important that their colleagues in Londonderry should be protected from an inquiry in which their names and identification will be given. Is the Prime Minister coming to that Dispatch Box to put matters right?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael J. Martin)

I must inform the hon. Gentleman that Madam Speaker has not received any word that there will be a statement.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You may wish to give a written answer to this point, but the matter came to light only late this morning and I hope that you will give me some guidance about whether hon. Members can criticise Lord Saville. Two questions seem to be relevant. First, is Lord Saville covered by the protection afforded to judges against certain types of criticism, given that he is acting in the capacity of tribunal chairman rather than as a judge?

Secondly, does the question of sub judice arise? There is real concern about this judge, who has been criticised by the courts three times now and who also appears to be responsible for an administrative blunder that has put in danger the lives of five ex-paratroopers and their families. Are we able to raise the matter in the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman. The tribunal and the judge are covered by the sub judice rules of the House.