HC Deb 26 June 2002 vol 387 c888

4.7 pm

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the question of the immunity of British, American and other forces operating abroad on peacekeeping duties has become a bone of contention between the United Kingdom and the United States in the United Nations, threatening the continuation of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Bosnia, I raised the issue on Thursday last week and asked the Secretary of State for Defence about it. He said: On the ICC"— the International Criminal Court— the Government negotiated an effective immunity for British forces—Obviously, that degree of immunity is available to any country that chooses to sign the treaty."—[Official Report, 20 June 2002; Vol. 387, c. 413] Today, when giving evidence to the Select Committee on Defence, the Secretary of State corrected that statement. He said: Immunity is not quite the right word. He went on to explain that the only protection from malicious accusation will be "appropriate procedures" in the International Criminal Court. In the circumstances, would it not be appropriate for the Secretary of State to correct the record and explain why the Government's policy is in such a mess?

Mr. Speaker

That is a matter for the Secretary of State; it has nothing to do with the occupant of the Chair.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Monday, during his statement following the Seville summit, the Prime Minister indicated in response to a question from me that the Sangatte protocol, which is directly relevant to the statement that we heard earlier, was overtaken by the introduction of the Dublin convention. My understanding is that the Sangatte protocol was signed following the Dublin convention and in the light of the effects of the Dublin convention, and therefore takes precedence over it. That being so, and the Prime Minister being aware of that, have you had a request from the Prime Minister to correct his statement?

Mr. Speaker

Those are matters that the hon. Gentleman will have to put to the Prime Minister. I chair the proceedings of the House of Commons; I do not answer questions on various protocols.