HC Deb 10 May 2004 vol 421 cc40-1 4.30 pm
Dr. Andrew Murrison (Westbury) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the Minister of State to mislead the House? In his statement last Tuesday, he said that he had received no reports from international organisations. That has been partly clarified but not fully. May I quote from a letter that I have just received—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is seeking to extend the questioning of the Secretary of State. [HON. MEMBERS: "He is not."] I say that he is, and that is the important thing. He had an opportunity to question the Secretary of State; others did not. I ask him to refrain from extending his question through a point of order. I also point out to the House that there is a 10-minute limit on Back Benchers for the business that we are about to take. It is unfair to take any time out of that debate.

Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I draw your attention to the conventions of the House. I am aware of at least a couple of Members who stood up during questions on the Minister's statement last week but were not called and who stood up again today and were not called. Generally, it is a convention that that is taken note of and that those Members are given an opportunity to speak on future occasions.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is usually down to my fairness, so perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be called next time. He will be remembered; I will not forget him.

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is obviously important that our proceedings be held in public and that commentators and others outside should be aware of what is happening. I understand that there is a document in which the Minister of State explains why he made his remarks to the House last week when reports had been received. Is it possible to find a way in which this document can appear inHansard?

Mr. Speaker

I do not have powers to do so. It is up to the Minister, who will have heard what the shadow Leader of the House has had to say.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I could help the House. I have submitted a letter to the hon. Member for Westbury (Dr. Murrison), who raised the question last week, and I passed a copy to the main spokesmen of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties We tried to contact the hon. Gentleman by telephone today to tell him that the letter was coming; we could not do so. We faxed it to him and I personally put the letter on the board when I came to the House to try to make sure that he had it in advance of today's statement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Put it on the record."] I am coming to that point. It has also been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Heald

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. One of the great problems with documents placed in the Library is that they are not on the record. That is one of the practices in this place that has arisen on occasion. There used to be 200 "will writes"; there are now 2,000. Should not this important letter be on the record inHansard?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Documents placed in the Library—[Interruption.] Perhaps I can answer without any interruption from the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). Such documents are public records when they are put in the Library. Hon. Members can therefore use them in debate or in any other discussion.

Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am not always a fan of modernisation but perhaps it would be in order if you reminded the Minister of State of the existence of written ministerial statements.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is not for me to remind the Secretary of State. It is for me to get on with the main business.