HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 c21 3.31 pm
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had any request from the Ministry of Defence to make a statement on the relief—let us use the polite word—of Brigadier Lane in Afghanistan? Does not the House of Commons deserve to know what the heck is going on in Afghanistan, particularly in the prisoner camps? If what was outlined in "The World Tonight" on Friday and to my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) and me is true, it is almost holocaust-like and the west should be ashamed. If the reports are true, should not the House of Commons be told?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman's first question was whether I had been contacted by any Minister with regard to a statement. The answer is no. It is the responsibility of the Minister concerned to come before the House.

Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to raise, not for the first time, the inordinate length of ministerial replies to supplementary questions, as the Question Time that has just finished showed. Will you make a study of Hansard tomorrow and, if you believe it appropriate, write to Ministers or communicate with them to ask them to make their replies shorter? They really are becoming longer and longer.

Mr. Speaker

I have already made a study, and we reached only Question 10. I agree that ministerial replies to supplementaries are far too long. They should be brief, and so indeed should the supplementary questions. I hope that Ministers take note—we should get further down the Order Paper than Question 10.